Monthly Archives: December 2009

Development Versus Deadline

For Lean improvement workshops, non-customer driven deadlines should be negotiable to ensure time is given for quality development of staff.

Matthew E. May discusses how organizations are so addicted to action sometimes that the deadline drives people to get things out versus get things right.  To me, “Getting things right” does not mean taking no action until something is perfect.  I think it means staff has a solid understanding of how to assess the current state, how to use data to determine where to begin improvements, how to see in gemba, how to communicate to gain consensus about the problem and the countermeasures, how Lean tools can help them, and how the workshop can be a model for their daily work. 

To move forward without that deep understanding poses a big risk for your organization for its long-term Lean growth.

With workshops at a hospital, sometimes dates are set aside before the work has truly begun.  Nurse and provider schedules are a very real constraint to work with.  I think dates should not be set until after the assessment.  This may draw out your lead time to an event, but it will have a better long-term effect on your organization.  The trick is to not have the event so far away from the assessment that momentum is lost (easier said than done).

When deadlines are put above development of staff, a consultant or Lean expert in the area ends up doing the work or telling people what to do.  While you may get the desired results with this method, the problem solving process was not followed.

The best scenario would be to ensure all of the development and understanding happens before the deadline.  Sometimes Lean can be so counterintuitive that people need more time.  One last caveat, I do not define development as “after one single event the staff become experts” since the Lean journey is iterative.

Do you let deadlines rule over staff development?  Do you think one is more important than the other?  What do you do to get both done on time?

My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation.  How can I help harness that inspiration?

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