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The other is to believe that leaders don’t have to lead or understand the methods deeply.
The leaders must be the most committed to understanding and utilizing the methods in order to be role models for the rest of the organization.
But, when we were looking for a management method, we didn’t find it. So, we were beginning to think that maybe the answers were outside of the health care industry. Smith: When did you decide to take your executive team over to Japan? Dr Kaplan: Well, the people at Boeing said that if you were really serious, you need to go to the source, you need a deep immersion experience.
We came home totally different – we were thinking differently – that’s why we continue to take people to Japan almost every year. Was it knowledge or attitude, or was it belief, a change of thinking about what’s possible? One answer is that it was learning in a different culture, looking at something that you were not familiar with seeing; Toyota’s history, Toyota’s production, working on a line in Hitachi; and then each night was a debrief, a very long debrief of what we saw, what did it mean to what we were doing at Virginia Mason, and what is the relevance to health care?
Dr Kaplan: I think the best aspect of that is to take people out of their comfort zone.There’s a big difference between lean as a project improvement method whereby we just use it to solve problems with tools and ideas, versus a management system which aligns the work we do every day and helps us to accomplish the goals we want to accomplish within our organization.Smith: Why did Virginia Mason look to a Japanese management methodology to be its guiding light? We met somebody who had been working at Boeing, John Black.Since a crisis period with financial losses in both 19, Virginia Mason has since achieved positive margins every year since implementing the Virginia Mason Production System.Together with the significant improvements achieved in efficiency across the organization, safety, quality and patient satisfaction metrics have also seen impressive improvement.