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“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects the wind to change; the leader adjusts the sails.” – John Maxwell

I like this saying so much I have a copy of it next to our vision and mission statements. In these uncertain times it is easy to just complain about everything wrong that’s going on around you. It’s simple to point the finger of blame at the economy, customers, suppliers or someone else. That, of course is not going to help.

We also can’t just sit around hoping things are going to get easier. What have you done lately to help improve your organization? Have you adopted the kaizen philosophy trying to make things a little better each day? You can’t just sit in the sailboat wishing the wind would pick up.

I like to be an optimist, but I realize in business it is better for me to be adjusting the sails. Have you adjusted your strategic plan (or Hoshin plan)? What other opportunities are you looking for? Can you think of ways to provide more value for your customers? When the wind picks up, it will probably pick up for everyone. Are you positioned to lead the race when it does?

Try to do something this week that will eliminate or at least reduce some waste in your work area. Keep adjusting the sails (kaizen) and see what happens.

Let me know what you think. – Tony

P.S. Check out my dialogue with Capt Karl on The Lean Nation radio show Wednesday, June 23, 2010 on Value Stream Mapping and more.

Captain Karl

I know this is last minute, but I just found out that today I’ll be on the The Lean Nation radio show hosted by VIBCO President, Karl Wadensten, airs daily from 4-5pm on 790AM Talk and Business in Providence, RI. The Lean Nation is globally available via webstream. We’ll be talking about one of my favorite subjects – Value Stream Mapping. If you can’t tune in today, check Thursday for the download. – Tony

I apologize for not getting my posting up last week, my brother was in the hospital. This was an interesting experience for me as a family member of a patient in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit). I have been helping hospitals with their Lean journey for quite some time now. But, I wasn’t there to see how they were implementing Lean. I was there to see how my brother would get better. As we all probably know, Lean is only ten percent about the tools and 90 percent about people. This last week I really got to see the people part of things.

E. M. Forster

“One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.” – E. M. Forster

The reason I picked this quote is because I was amazed at the different level of care that I saw my brother receive from the nurses that were scheduled. I say ‘scheduled’ because that’s what it felt like sometimes. The nurses did their jobs technically well. Some may have been more ‘efficient’ than others. When it comes to healthcare the customer (the patient) is not only concerned with efficiency, they also want some amount of compassion. There was one nurse who stood out among the rest. She was caring, reassuring, funny and genuinely seemed to like her job and take care of my brother as if he were her family member. You could tell that she has a passion for her job, like many of us do. I understand that each person is unique and each has their own personality. Some people just make you feel good when they do their job. I also know that a hospital is a tough place to work in with all the rules, regulations, policies, etc. I also know that nurses are generally overworked. That’s where Lean has a role in hospitals. I noticed that they had applied some 5S to the unit by labeling racks and storerooms for supplies. By continuing on a good Lean journey we can reduce more waste and allow the nurses to do what they want to do – spend more time with the patients.

I will write more about my healthcare experience in upcoming blogs. For now, let’s see if we can find people with passion or rekindle passion for our work. – Tony