MBOE groups hit the road to see lean leadership in action

It’s a busy time for gemba walks, folks. Fisher’s Master of Business Operational Excellence cohort recently spent time visiting Center for Operational Excellence members Nationwide Insurance and Cardinal Health. Meanwhile, MBOE’s health-care cohort met out in Seattle, visiting Seattle Children’s and Seattle GroupHealth, learning what role leaders take on in a lean environment. 

David Mann, author of Creating a Lean Culture, spent a day with the students explaining and demonstrating the tasks that lay ahead of a lean leader.  Lean, Mann said, is a higher-maintenance way of managing because there isn’t much of a buffer, or waste, built in the process. As a result it is important that leaders adhere to standard work. So what does standard work for leaders involve and how do you build in accountability? Per Mann, here are some questions one can start answering to find out what is lacking and eventually build a system to have the answers:  

Having tasks and deadlines on public display improves accountability
Having tasks and deadlines on public display improves accountability
  • Does your standard work involve going to the workplace or the ‘gemba’? How frequently? 
  • What do you do in the gemba? Are you problem solving or empowering people to identify and solve problems?
  • What feedback will you give the people about their processes?
  • How does information flow from the corporate level to the shop floor? What is the chain of command? How will you identify if there is a break in the link?
  • Are there standard work visual controls? What is their intent? How do they tie to the strategic goal?

According to Mann, if visual controls for leader standard work are easily visible to the public, have due dates for completion of tasks and name of the responsible person, you automatically build in accountability in the process. To summarize, focusing on the process, adding visual controls with built in accountability and having the discipline for following up the first three elements are the basis of leader standard work. 

The MBOE cohort got the insight on developing efficient teams by hiring the right people by Larry Inks, faculty at the Fisher College of Business. The MBOE healthcare team learned about team building and basics of 3P taught by Barb Bouche, Director of process improvement at Seattle Childrens’. The students also witnessed seamless flow at Seattle Children’s outpatient surgical facility in Bellevue, which was built by implementing the principles of the 3P and involving all the stakeholders responsible for providing care.


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