Monday, 5 July 2010

Lean Health: Our Approach - Unplugged

We are often asked “So what exactly is your phased approach?” so we thought that it was high time to spell it out. As a result we will do so in a series of posts. On this occasion we are the ‘pacemaker’ here (the pacemaker concept will be revealed in post number 5 or 6) so for now all that we can say is that we will release this information one piece at a time (as opposed to batching) outlining our phased approach.

We are all gainfully employed because there exists a customer problem that needs to be resolved – right?

In this post we’ll outline the importance of really understanding the customers’ problem before our phased approach actually commences.

I’m a solutions person – Really?

We shudder when we hear those words……

Based on experience and observation, implementing countermeasures to problems before accurately defining the problem is one of the biggest wastes we see in healthcare.

This behaviour is dangerous and fraught with risk. Instead of improving services this behaviour actually makes thing worse.

A bi-product of this behaviour is the distraction it causes, consuming precious resources and preventing them from doing the right things.

Unless a problem or set of problems are accurately defined, the effectiveness of any solution is at the very least debatable.

It is easy to declare victory in this world of ‘not really understanding problems’ with an illusion of progress. However the problem WILL re-emerge having not really been solved.

Any premature leap to solutions (often mistaken for ‘increased pace’) is, in reality, nothing more than tampering.

In all industries the management mantra 'don't bring me problems bring me solutions' is perilous. This approach directs organisations rapidly to the above issues. Additionally staff in the organisation will begin to act in the same way, further reducing the organisations' ability to solve its own problems.

Voice of the Customer (VoC)

Prior to commencing our phased approach we always obtain the Voice of the Customer (VoC):

This exercise is critical. If we don’t obtain the Voice of the Customer then we will never ‘hit the spot’

This VoC although hugely important tends to be, even if expressed in plain English, fairly vague in that it is not measurable. As a result we then employ a process to translate this VoC into CTQs (Critical to Quality).

CTQs are the key measurable characteristics of a process, the performance standards or specification limits that must be met in order to satisfy the customer. They align improvement or re-design efforts with customer requirements.

A CTQ must be interpreted from a qualitative customer statement to an actionable, quantitative business specification usually a set of numbers, KPIs or metrics by which we can all measure how successfully the improvements are being implemented through regular review.

Right now we already know that any folks reading this that are exponents of either six sigma or lean will be crying out “but so far, that’s not lean, that’s six sigma”. However the folks reading this that truly understand, the folks that really understand the scientific approach will be thinking “So, what’s wrong with that?”

This is just the start. Phase one coming soon.....

1 comment:

  1. I think VOC approach is very important for service organization like healthcare or hotel industry.