Posted by: knightbird | September 10, 2010

It Gets Worse—Cutting out the Customer

I am always amazed at the wisdom of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. I am fortunate to have been conversant with his 14 Principles or what is often called his Profound System of Knowledge. Anna Roth, CEO of Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Health Centers, is currently exploring and adopting this at their Improvement Academy. It’s no wonder that they are on a solid upward path of improvement. The first blog I read of Anna’s involved the report out of their behavioral health Kaizen on June 18, 2010. I was impressed with the invitation they issued to their consumers and family members to become involved with their Kaizen. This is totally consistent with Dr. Deming’s advice to the Japanese when he spoke to them in July of 1950.

“Deming showed how customers and suppliers are brought into, and become part of, the production system. Systems thinking is the key. The supplier-producer-customer network works together as a system.” [http://quality-history.blogspot.com/2007/10/deming-ishikawa.html]

Contra Costa gets it.

Contrast this with a report I heard from our statewide health organization. Mind you, I don’t have the facts, and they are loathe to let go of the facts, but I am working on understanding their mindset. I blogged about it yesterday. There are new staff involved and a budgeting process. But the comment I think I heard fairly was a representation by the CEO that process improvements are an internal concern, and we aren’t going to involve you in mapping the processes you asked us to do. In other words, we are cut out of the supplier-producer-customer network. So Anna can involve her consumers and family members, but our CEO can’t. I don’t understand this thinking. Is it true that the customer network is being dismissed? I hope not, or I have even more reason to be disappointed.

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