It’s huddle time! No, I’m not joining a sports team. But along with my leadership team, we are taking the next step on our lean journey. In a few weeks we’ll be starting twice-a-week, 30-minute leadership huddles. This is part of Lean in Daily Work which also includes key visual metrics, visual boards, Everyday Lean Ideas (ELI), and leadership walks.
In a post last summer, I talked about the lean journey. It is important for leadership to set common expectations throughout an organization. So if we’re going to practice lean thinking as a department, our leadership team has to set the example.
The goals of this lean experiment include the following:
- Create a common understanding of what our performance is compared to what we want it to be so we can understand the gaps and improve.
- Make our work visual and actionable.
- Understand our business more deeply by asking questions and looking at trends.
- Surface, track and trend problems.
- Gain experience and practice with lean.
Our visual board will be organized around the same balanced framework that our health system leadership is defining for setting goals, priorities and measures — safety, quality, timeliness, financial stewardship, and people. And a few words to help understand what this framework means:
Safety – To avoid harm to patients, employees, students and visitors.
Quality – Do the right work in the right way the first time to obtain the intended clinical and/or administrative outcome. Do not pass on a defect.
Timeliness – Timely execution.
Financial Stewardship – Resource stewardship.
People – Create optimal environment to engage and empower workers and leaders to improve performance.
At each huddle we will walk through a standard set of questions:
- Are there any Major Incidents or risks for Major Incidents that need executive escalation?
- Are there any staff we would like to recognize?
- Are there any incidents to report in regards to safety of our patients or staff?
- Are there any incidents to report that were the result of inadequate testing or quality controls?
- Are there any concerns regarding service level agreements, project deliverables, or service desk performance metrics?
- Are there any financial issues to report including potential budget variances or unplanned funding requests?
- Are there any resource management issues to discuss including key position vacancies, resource availability or any significant morale or engagement issues?
- Are there any Everyday Lean Ideas (ELI) to review and/or update?
- Are there any other announcements?
For anything that is raised requiring follow-up, we will determine the action needed and assign a lead.
An obvious question when we are all pressed for time is what the addition of these two 30 minute huddles each week offset in terms of other standing meetings. The answer is none, yet. The “yet” part is key. I believe that Lean in Daily Work practices can eventually reduce other standing meetings and change the way we use email. Two common complaints from leaders are too many meetings and too much email.
Will we get this right the first few huddles? Probably not. Will it feel awkward and different? Probably yes. But we’re agreeing to experiment and learn as we go. Lean Enterprise Institute CEO John Shook often says, “Learning how to improve is as important as the improvement itself.” Using PDCA (plan-do-check-act) we’ll make adjustments as needed.
I’d eventually like to see use of Lean in Daily work practices (huddles, visual management, ELI) implemented throughout my entire IT department at all levels. By leading the way and being willing to experiment as a leadership team, we will learn and refine our approach. As my lean coach, Margie Hagene from the Lean Enterprise Institute, would say, we’ll develop the muscle.