Process Improvement – More Than Just a Project

It is a dark day in the Louisville healthcare Process Improvement community.  Once again, senior leaders failed to see process improvement as more than just another way to cut costs or manage projects, and the organizations will suffer.

One organization actually had, at one time, a VP of PI, and 4 black belts leading up the effort to transform the company.  However, as it turns out, transformation was not what the leaders really wanted.  This became evident when the 1st of the BBs left 3 years ago and was not replaced, but was taken as a “cost savings”.  Over the course of the past 3 years, one of the remaining was promoted to another area of the organization (not replaced), one left to another healthcare organization (not replaced), and the VP left to pursue other opportunities (not replaced).  Today, the last one is leaving – tired of living on an island alone.

The other organization did not invest the resources as the first, but placed the PI position somewhere in the Quality department.  Not having a voice at the senior table, it is no wonder that PI does not get the senior lever attention and flounders there.  Today, they will be losing their PI resource, the second in as many years.

Why are these organizations, who desperately need to change the way they do business failing when in comes to sustaining a solid process improvement effort?  My belief is because they do not view PI as a way to fundamentally change the way they operate, but only as a project methodology to cut costs.  With all the needed transformation required, these organizations seemed to be fixated on doing things the same way they always have and not taking a hard look in the mirror – which a transformative PI effort will require.  And guess what – sometimes when you look, you don’t always like what you see.

It’s a shame to see this transpire and we can only hope that leadership will one day become enlightened enough to really want to do something about it.  Only time will tell.

Want to see PI sustained?  Then quit treating it as a project and start viewing it as the way to change the business.

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3 thoughts on “Process Improvement – More Than Just a Project

  1. I have to agree with you Glenn.

    One of the things that I have noticed is that since our economy is contracting there seems to be less and less effort put into continuous improvement efforts. However, outside the U.S. there is a greater emphasis in continuous improvements. I believe that most any Lean consultant and/or executive search firm specializing in this area would confirm that their activities in this area has substantial increased.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future.

  2. The funny thing is (or maybe not), when one of the people was giving notice, their boss asked them for recommended replacements. The person they suggested was in a Director level position and has the exact skill set needed. The boss replied, “But why would they want a demotion” That organization DOES NOT get it.

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