Does your workday frequently feel like mayhem? I have talked with many people who feel like their job is filled with unnecessary chaos. I believe a lot of organizations self-inflict themselves with craziness. There is a way to stop the mayhem!
Overburdening people (and equipment) is a form of waste. Your organization must first identify where people experience this waste. Usually it is very easy to find just by asking who feels they are overwhelmed.
Here are some examples of what you may find (also note that most below do not have a paying customer waiting for the outcome):
Leaders asking for non-standard reports with quick deadlines (usually to sit on their desks for weeks before they look at them)
Constant edits or change of direction to documents because planning is often done afterthe content was created
Support departments get projects dumped on them without ever problem solving around their ability to have capacity to do the work
Somebody’s procrastination or lack of planning becomes another person’s urgent priority
The next step is to acknowledge this kind of mayhem is a problem. This step is difficult because firefighting heroics and the rush of adrenaline from last-minute deadlines becomes “how things are done around here”.
As an outside observer, I usually see little need for subjecting employees to this kind of work condition and believe it lowers engagement. Until teams align that overburdening staff is a problem, it will continue unabated.
The final step is to identify the root causes of the mayhem and eliminate them.
What sort of unnecessary mayhem do you experience in the workplace?
(NOTE: The attached video is only related to this post because of the title and I thought it was a cool rockabilly song!)
Technology can sometimes seem like the right way to address issues but most people do not know about the extra problems it can create. You may get a short-term win with technology but end up suffering in the long-term.
If your hospital or organization in on a Lean journey, technology can sometimes go against your philosophy and management system.
Here are some things to consider if you are looking at technology:
Never automate a bad process. Eliminate waste and understand what the process really needs before you find a way to make it faster. Quicker waste is still waste.
IT systems should fit the process, not the other way around. In The Birth Of Lean, there was an early Toyota document with the following: “It is not a conveyor that operates men…it is men that operate a conveyor…” So often people change processes to meet the rigidity of the technology. Ensure the technology does not force standardization that has waste, lowers quality, or makes no sense.
Be able to make changes after it is implemented. So often organizations are stuck with wasteful systems because nobody has knowledge to make iterative improvements or the cost to bring someone in is so high that nobody fixes it until it is totally broke.
Trial first instead of piloting. Pilots usually happen after you buy the system. I have rarely seen organizations stop implementation if a pilot does not work out like they expected. Organizations usually just change their messaging and training to fit what the technology can do instead of ensuring it does what they wanted it to do. Trialing is part of PDCA thinking and will help ensure the IT system meets the needs of the process without being financially committed to rolling it out.
Know the problem you are addressing. With today’s technology, there are all sorts of bells and whistles that seem great. Although impressive, the added features may be more than needed (overprocessing waste) and can sometimes distract from why you were looking for technology. These ‘extras’ can also add complexity to your processes.
I think technology can be embraced in Lean organizations but it is important to ensure it is thoroughly tested, reliable, and improvable before you commit to implementing.
Vodpod videos no longer available. Jason Yip & Paul Heaton created this outstanding SlideShare presentation “Lean Times Require Lean Thinking” (RSS readers might need to visit improvewithme.com to view). I love the sketches throughout and really like the cartoon of 3 wastes. The description of wastes are mostly hospital based which is nice to see. The slide describing the difference between authority-based vs responsibility-based focus is a great reminder of the culture we are trying to create in Lean enterprises.
My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation. How can I help harness that inspiration?
It is easy for people to become overburdened (MURI). I think leadership and teams need to prioritize the removal of this dangerous waste because the “respect for people” principle dictates action, not just words or feelings. I drew this to practice the art of visual communication!