Category: Lean thinking

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A few years ago, I was working with nurses, pharmacists and physicians to understand the chemotherapy administration process at a cancer center. They all had a common problem: Too many screens Way too many. As I observed a nurse as she was walking me through the process of activating a chemo treatment, I noticed she went through 19 screens as she toggled through the multiple systems to access all the information she needed to do her work. In the lean world, this is described as “overprocessing” waste.
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We’re pretty proud of the successes we’ve seen in just three years running Fisher’s Master of Business Operational Excellence program. And the same can be said of the industry heavy-hitters we line up to give students top-notch wisdom in lean leadership. Among those big deals is John Shook, the CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute in the Boston area.
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In a recent session for Fisher’s Master of Business Operational Excellence class, we had the pleasure of hearing James Hereford, COO of the Palo Alto Medical foundation. While discussing lean deployment in the health-care sector, he touched on using Japanese terms for the tools and methodologies of the Toyota Production System. It’s Hereford’s preference to use the original terms. His succinct defense:
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Unlike my blog-posting colleague, I’m a relative newbie at lean, having spent my years out of college in the newspaper business and only recently making the jump to Fisher’s Center for Operational Excellence. I’ve pored over the Lean Enterprise Institute’s Lean Lexicon, scratched my head at A3s and learned very well how to nod politely at jargon as I scribble down mental notes for later. No amount of memorization, however, has taught me more about the transformative power of a lean approach than my first simulation.
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Because lean principles have their roots in automobile manufacturing, people in the service industry are prone to bristle at the thought that their organization could benefit from them. Health care is a prime example and its workers sing a common refrain: My patients aren’t cars. They are human beings.