Four Indicators Your Lean Effort is NOT Creating a Culture Shift

Posted on Posted in Culture, Management System

1. People are saying, “We’ve tried this before.”

Flavor-of-the-month efforts come and go. There are many organizations in healthcare that you’ve never heard of that have tried to implement any number of process improvement methodologies trying to change the culture. One of the most common phrases I hear when working with a new organization on a Lean transformation is some form of the following:  “We tried this once before… a few years back. You should talk to so-and-so. They still use the tools in their department.”

Key Action: Leverage the visibility and influence of leadership within the organization. Facilitate a conversation where the leadership decides on the structure and positioning of the lean effort. If leadership supports a Lean cultural transformation, then the support and discussion must be visible and reinforced in multiple mediums and forums. 

2. Managers are asking, “When is the next training scheduled? I have this new manager on my team and a project I’d like them to do.”

This might be an indication that the organization views the efforts surrounding lean as a set of projects. In order to move towards a culture of lean thinking, the ideas and concepts must go much further than a singular event such as a project. As a result, it has to become a part of the way people work day-to-day.

Key Action: Develop a practice of regularly discussing improvement opportunities through the use of a huddle board. Allow the conversations around key performance metrics and ongoing within the operation to drive the focus of improvement opportunities and where lean efforts and resources get placed. 

3. If you answer “No” to this question: Have you heard the executive sponsor talk about their vision for a lean culture shift within the organization?

This is a critical piece in setting up the culture of lean thinking and learning. The executive sponsor must be able to articulate a clear vision of what the organization will look like when a) the journey is underway and b) when there has been significant progress made.

Key Action: Spend the time talking through the vision for the lean culture with the executive sponsor and key stakeholders invested in the movement’s success. Develop a vision for how the Lean effort will interact and integrate with existing: quality efforts, process improvement efforts, change management efforts, IT initiatives and HR development programs. 

4. You are unable to clearly identify a governance body that integrates the lean deployment strategy into the organization’s strategy.

There must be a steering committee and a subset of operational committees that focus solely on the cultivation and management of the direction of the lean culture shift. It should include a good cross-section of executives and clinical partners in the organization with formal and informal influence.

Key Action: Charter the group with a healthy membership of firm supporters to the cause. Have the team primarily focus on setting an action plan that will create a firm foundation for the change to grow and infiltrate the organization within the first 18 months of existence. This may mean the company focuses on “small wins” first with basic lean principles, in order to build momentum, before moving towards more complex and advanced methods.