Posted by: Knightbird | December 27, 2011

Non-Traditional Kaizen

Sometimes I forget about the amazing work my employees are doing in non-traditional areas of Lean implementation. Manufacturing lean is well accepted and applied at many places (although maybe in too much of a tools based approach). Lean Healthcare is taking hold at many hospitals and a few clinical settings (although not here in Alaska). Lean Government is evident when you do a search on the Internet, and our Municipality of Anchorage and Alaska Division of Public Assistance are either considering or actually implementing some aspects of Lean Government. My staff is encouraged to test the boundaries of Lean Management and they do it. Here are some examples.

Confidentiality is important to what we do in healthcare, behavioral health and counseling, human resource management and realty trust services, among others. We have been applying the tools of lean to improving our confidentiality practice. We are mapping the flow of information. We are examining our communication to our customers. We will be training each employee through the use of Training Within Industry’s Job Instruction method.

Our Community Health Aide’s use a document called the CHAM (Community Health Aide Manual). This is not a Chugachmiut responsibility, but we assisted with a Kaizen to define the problems that occur with use of the CHAM. Here is that problem statement: “A lack of a consistent process and allocated recurring resources has resulted in inadequate alignment of CHAM, curriculum with current standards of clinical practice of CHA/Ps in rural Alaska.” The team then conducted a Fishbone (CEDAC, Ishikawa Diagram) exercise to brainstorm potential solutions. They did a value stream map of a future state. They now have a clear view of what they need to do in order to improve the use of the CHAM in rural Alaska.

We have used our Lean Management system on many interesting problems. Our Language and Culture program conducted a recent Kaizen. We are working on our process for contracting for services. Our Finance and Administration Director constructed a Yamaguchi Chart to better deploy our finance team in accomplishing our monthly reconciliation and closings. The list goes on an on.

I might add that employees lead these improvement events. They are coming up with the ideas. They are asking for the help in solving, and by doing so, are learning more about Lean implementation.

I am not aware of many lean transformations in a not for profit service organization. What my staff proves every day is that Lean works here. And whenever we extend to our partner organizations, at least the participants in the events start to believe.

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