Building a Lean Culture, Part One

Posted by Ken Chess

Feb 2, 2016 6:52:10 PM

Read Time: 2 Minutes, 15 Seconds

In an age when companies across industries are striving to increase quality of their services, FUSIONOEMCOLOR_178.jpgemployee engagement and customer satisfaction, anything that helps to motivate and retain a skilled workforce is worth the investment. Last week, a meeting with David Fox, President of Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, demonstrated that initiating and sustaining tangible results without sacrificing resources is possible, but it hinges on the quality of a company’s culture. Under Fox’s leadership, Advocate Good Samaritan has realized tremendous operational improvements, including reduced costs, improved employee engagement, reduced turnover, and increased productivity. As a result, this hospital has won numerous industry awards and recognition while serving as a nationwide benchmark in the healthcare industry. Observing the methods implemented immediately drew parallels to our company culture of lean operation and continuous improvement. During our visit, we noted the following requirements for a successful company transformation from Good to Great:

  • Leadership has to drive change. Before a new company culture has any impact throughout the organization, upper management must genuinely embrace its principles and practices. Employees view management as a model of the company, so they must demonstrate the intended culture as well as explaining it. Before initiating Good Samaritan’s transformation, David Fox held countless meetings and conversations with physicians and employees from all sectors in order to garner what was working and what was an opportunity for improvement. The information he gathered was analyzed and categorized into (6) key performance areas, all supporting the top level goals for the hospital. The goals were disseminated throughout the organization, starting with the leadership team. The leadership team fully understands the future goals and vision of the company at the level required to build a lean culture, so the new culture had to begin with them. During the visit, David Fox cited one of his favorite and pertinent quotes from Lao Tzu: “The way to do is to be”.
  • Expectations and behaviors must be clearly defined. Creating a new lean culture means the new standards, expectations and cultural norms must be more firmly established than old habits and entrenched values. With time, these new, clear standards become the norm for lean culture. At Good Samaritan, the focus was on being place where doctors have a great experience practicing and patients have a great experience receiving top clinical treatment. Every interaction was expected to reflect that mission. To accomplish this, employees needed to have an in-depth understanding of how their work affects both internal and external customers, including how the two are ultimately connected.
  • Effective prioritization requires data. Both Good Samaritan and Fusion OEM utilize Value Stream Mapping to identify efficiency issues. Value Stream Mapping provides a detailed view of different processes, identifying waste and detailing how each step delivers value to customers. Once identified, a problem (opportunity) at Good Samaritan is handled through a specific problem-solving process called A3-PDSA. This is a disciplined problem solving approach that requires clear identification of all aspects of the problem, including what success looks like.

Every competitive business leader is aware of the importance of having a vision, a mission statement, company values – something the entire company can rally behind. However, few leaders have managed to successfully execute a shift in company culture to transform their business. Crafting a culture centered on continuous improvement requires investment of time, but the venture is well worth it, regardless of industry - as demonstrated during our visit to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. Under the leadership of David Fox and his team, Advocate Good Samaritan went from an average hospital to a world-class facility.

Topics: lean culture