Monday, May 21, 2012

A Lean Leaders Big “AHA” Moment

By Al Norval

Many of you will recognize the name John Toussaint, MD. John is the CEO of the Thedacare Center for Healthcare Value and a former CEO of Thedacare. During his time at Thedacare, he introduced the Thedacare Improvement System which was based on the Toyota Production System. John co-authored the best-selling and Shingo Prize winning book “On the Mend” which documents his experience from implementing Lean into a healthcare system.

John has had time to reflect on his journey of leading a lean implementation and has many great insights. On speaking with John, he had a wonderful quote which I’d like to share with you.

“I spent so much time putting out fires until I realized I was the oxygen” John Toussaint, MD

As a leader what you do is what you get. If you spend your time putting out fires, people will bring you more fires to put out. Better to spend your time teaching others and building the capability of the organization. Not to have them learn to put out fires but to have them learn how to solve problems to root cause so the fires don’t come back.

Once people learn how to solve problems using the scientific method, leaders need to reinforce that new behavior and be careful to not reinforce firefighting.

In John’s words – put the oxygen into problem solving so we can extinguish firefighting.


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