Students in Fisher’s Master of Business Operational Excellence Healthcare cohort spent four days last week at the Thedacare Healthcare System in Appleton, Wis., as part of the year-long program. Senior lecturer Mrinalini Gadkari was on the scene for daily recaps.
Any of our MBOE students wondering how the landmark Toyota Production System could apply in the health-care sector got their answer at the Thedacare Healthcare System in Appleton, Wis. Although John Toussaint, its former CEO, had a clear vision for an efficient system, the transformation wasn’t free of challenges. The key to meeting them, we found: Leadership.
Simply having a vision isn’t enough. It’s important that it translates into something meaningful and actionable. When developing their core strategies, the leaders at Thedacare repeatedly asked the questions: What is most important? How do we measure that? They had to let go of past goals based solely on numeric results and embrace the “True North” goals of customer satisfaction, people development, safety and quality and financial stewardship.
Thedacare used the powerful problem solving technique called A3 thinking, widely adopted within Toyota also referred to as PDSA. The PDSA cycle has four stages:
- Plan – Determine the problems with the gap between current and ideal conditions, goals, and the proposed changes.
- Do – Try out the proposed changes
- Study – Analyze the results of the trials and reflect on the findings
- Act – Incorporate the findings (successful/not successful) into the new process and standardize the change.
In addition to changing how they came up with strategy, they did two other things: (1) They created standard work for leaders that involved going to the gemba and assessing the health of the organization by visiting visual board for leaders, and (2) they translated strategy to actionable items for the frontline staff. That group, in turn, was able to chime in on what was possible and describe roadblocks.
In short: The leaders had to change how they did work before they could bring a change to the organization.
There is a lot more where this came from. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s a video where you can see the highlights of the Strategy Deployment DVD at Thedacare and also a blog by Toussaint.