Like all kids, I used to want to be a firefighter when I grew up. The above picture is me in the 70’s all ready to take out an inferno. People may not be public-service firefighters, but we sure douse flames a lot in hospitals.
We need to change our mentality about fighting fires to focusing on prevention. Think how Smokey The Bear advised “Only you can prevent forest fires”. The same is true for you AND your team.
Fighting fires at a hospital are waste. They overburden people (muri), they are the anthisis of an even production level (mura), the interruption may cause waiting for other patients, they often are a cause of defects, and there can be some overprocessing included because you have to touch something more than normally required.
How can you begin to prevent fires?
- Get to the root cause of the last fire you extinguished and make improvements
- Prioritize improvement projects to prevent fires – they are clear problems to fix
- Don’t get stuck in the mental trap of “this is an oddity and only happened once therefore not worth fixing”
- Look for standard work opportunities since the lack of them can lead to fires.
- Be fiercely protective of your even production level. If other management and departments spring quick deadlines on you (usually not real fires but they act like it), add them to the appropriate heijunka slot. If they fight this concept, be a learning organization and coach them on the importance of not adding waste.
What other advice do you have?
My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation. How can I help harness that inspiration?