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More on Lean, from my mom and VIBCO

January 10, 2012

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my mother exists in this crazy health care world as well. She works at a hospital in Salem, Oregon and spends most of her time implementing something called the Lean method.

I profiled Paul Levy’s blog, which talks about how he used Lean to improve operations at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, but I should have just talked to my mom. She lives this stuff every day.

Today she sent me some resources explaining the concept of 5S. It’s basically a way to better organize spaces/tools and keep them that way. Here’s a chart explaining each “s” and what it looks like when it’s properly implemented (click to see a larger version.)

My mom says this process of reorganizing seems simple, but it’s the first step towards implementing other, more systemic changes. She puts it this way- if you have a lot of clutter, you don’t understand what’s underneath it. You have to clear away the mess before you can even know what’s going on below the surface.

Lean isn’t just for hospitals either. Mark Graban writes about Lean in all sorts of settings. He told me about VIBCO– it’s a Rhode Island company that makes industrial vibrators (not the sexy kind, the kind that shakes concrete so it looks smooth.) Karl Wadensten, the president of VIBCO, not only uses Lean to make operations run smoothly, he also hosts a weekly webcast with Lean experts. At one point, he even had a daily radio show about Lean.

Linda Kleineberg from VIBCO tells me hospitals in Rhode Island are starting to take a serious look at how Lean might improve the way they operate. In fact, Karl Wadensten is speaking at Lifespan’s human resources conference this Friday.

Keep watching this blog and listening to our air for more info on how these concepts might apply to health care in RI.

Unsure about what all this means? Check out my earlier post.


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