Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Healthcare Manager Swallows Bitter Lean Pill and "Likes" It

A chance conversation uncovers a troubling, unhealthy perspective.

Last weekend I attended a social function where I had a chance to talk to a woman from a neighboring town who works for a large hospital and provider of healthcare services. 

During our converstaion I recognized her position at the hospital as being a middle management role so I asked her if she new about "Lean" entering the healthcare industry. She immediately new what I meant, told me her hospital was involved, and then quickly began describing a project impacting her area. The description she gave included several details, all of which seemed technically correct. Based on what she said, the work seemed admirable and I am sure the hospital is realizing good benefits from their efforts.

Then, just out of curiosity, and in the regular flow of the conversation, I asked how she personally felt about the new Lean program. She replied almost matter-of-factly but with a bit of sarcasm clearly evident in her voice. This is what she said,

"It doesn't matter what I think. Everyone knows they are supposed to smile and say how much they like it."

It took a little while for her answer to sink in. Later, when I recalled the candid comment, and some o the detail she mentioned that indicated the leaders of the project were making an effort at enabling employee involvement, I couldn't help but think, "maybe the executive management team believes they have genuine employee involvement on their side, when in reality, what they really have is a weaker, somewhat artificial form of employee involvement."

1 comment:

Robert Polo said...

i remember the reaction and the level of understanding of 'lean' when Lowell started to draw new, more effective layout of cell after the lecture we had on the meaning of 'lean'. the more things change the more they stay the same, i guess.