Effective Lean Leadership
Leading in a Lean organization is very different from traditional management.

Lean leadership is based on two key principles – Respect for People and Continuous Improvement. Lean leaders succeed by focusing on these principles and developing a management system and culture that embodies them.

A Lean management system empowers the people on the front lines to identify and solve problems, and aligns the entire organization around achieving shared aspirational goals.

Lean leaders work differently:
  • Rather than sitting in back to back meetings interrupted only by emails or crises, Lean leaders intentionally go to the “gemba” – the place where the real work is done – in order to understand what is working and what is not, and to build trusting relationships with the front line workers.
  • Rather than spend time analyzing spreadsheets and reports filled with data that is weeks to months old, Lean leaders encourage transparency with visual management in which real time performance data is posted on walls in a way that makes it easy for all to see when performance is on track or off track.
  • Rather than simply demanding action plans to fix the metrics that are off track, Lean leaders seek to understand the root causes when performance is off track and support the front line workers as they redesign the workflows to eliminate the problems.

Lean leadership is a journey that takes time and never reaches a final conclusion. Everyone is always improving.

If you are struggling with Lean leadership, or are interested in learning more, feel free to contact me. I am happy to help.
Want Physician Engagement? Engage with Physicians!

Want Physician Engagement? Engage with Physicians!

“How’s your physician engagement?” I’m directing this question to hospital and health system leaders, because they often as for someone like me to help them with it. I’ve been asked many times by the C-suite to help them get their doctors engaged in Lean or other forms of process improvement. What I commonly find is… Continue Reading

Everything Has to Change

Everything Has to Change

“If you want things to stay the same around here, everything has to change.” Richard Carr, an HR expert and Simpler colleague, shared this quote from The Leopard, written by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. As described in this Wikipedia post, as the mid-19th Century Italian historical novel progresses, a prince is forced to choose between… Continue Reading

Single Payer Solution to Burnout?

Single Payer Solution to Burnout?

Is Single Payer the solution to burnout? I received an email from a good friend this week, Dr. Patty Gabow, who is CEO-emerita of Denver Health.  As CEO, Patty led a Lean transformation of Denver Health that achieved great physician and staff engagement while saving the State of Colorado over 200 million dollars.  She is… Continue Reading

Go to Gemba to Show You Care

Go to Gemba to Show You Care

As a health care leader, you need to Go to Gemba!  Why? Because 82% of your physicians think that their leaders don’t care about their problems.  (It’s not just healthcare, in pretty much every industry 80-85% of front line workers think that those in the C-suite don’t care enough to offer help to the people… Continue Reading

Servant Leadership – Asking Questions, Not Giving Answers

Servant Leadership – Asking Questions, Not Giving Answers

Servant Leadership is alive and well among effective Lean leaders in Europe. This past week I had the good fortune to give a presentation on “Preventing Physician Burnout” at the 3rd Annual Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit Europe in Brussels.  It was a great meeting with 300+ attendees from 17 countries all committed to transforming health… Continue Reading

Denver Health: Engaging Physicians through Engaged Leadership

Denver Health: Engaging Physicians through Engaged Leadership

Last Sunday I discussed the sixth driver of burnout – Conflicting Values.  Today’s posting is a vignette from our book, Preventing Physician Burnout: Curing the Chaos and Returning Joy to the Practice of Medicine, and discusses Denver Health’s Lean journey.  As CEO of Denver Health, Dr. Patty Gabow engaged Simpler Consulting to coach her and her… Continue Reading

Front Line Connections

Front Line Connections

Last Sunday I focused on the fifth driver of burnout – Absence of Fairness. Leaders can increase the sense of fairness with front line connections to caregivers by being present in the clinical areas to understand the challenges first hand.  Of course, rapidly solving problems is key to making people feel that they are being… Continue Reading