Issue 26


Issue 26

Strategy Deployment by Ron Bercaw

One of the most critical pieces of deploying lean is to link the improvement work to strategy. Virtually every organization I work, with does not complete this first critical step. Rather their Lean improvement is used on a project basis. The organization submits requests for improvement services and the improvement resources act as consultants on loan to departments to solve specific problems. This approach can and sometimes does generate some small wins. But unless you tie your improvement activities directly to your strategic priorities, you will not generate the breakthroughs your improvement system is capable of delivering.

Before I continue, how many of you have a prioritization matrix you use to filter requests for improvement services? If you do, then you have the project approach to improvement I just discussed above. We want to shift our focus from running projects to organizational transformation. Lean improvement is a vehicle to deliver world-class rates of improvement in morale/ human development, quality, delivery (timeliness), cost, and growth. But where in the organization do you deliver these rates of improvement and how much should you improve? These answers come from strategy deployment.

Strategy Deployment is a seven step process to determine where to focus, what to focus on, how fast to improve, and how to manage the improvement activities. The seven steps are listed briefly below.

  1. Establish the organizational vision - This step involves coming up with your strategic plan. What markets do you want to be in? Where do you want to grow? Where do you want to divest? What services and products do you want to offer? Organizations typically perform some customer focus groups and environmental scans as a part of this exercise.
  2. Develop the three to five-year breakthrough objectives - Here we are defining the organizational True North Measures. World class organizations demonstrate consistent improvement in operational measures. Measures of operational excellence include:
    • Excellence in staff engagement/ morale/ safety/ and human development
    • Stellar performance in process quality and reduction in errors and defects
    • Shorter and shorter lead-times for products and services
    • Optimized used of resources in delivering products and services
    • Increasing volumes of products and services provided in a capital efficient manor

    The five measures of operational excellence make-up an organization's true north measures

  3. Develop the annual breakthrough objectives and improvement priorities - Once the true north measures are known, this step involves determining what to work on, and how fast to work on delivering the results. From a lean perspective, what value streams, if improved, will deliver on driving our true north measures. It is in this step that the senior leaders of the organization determine where the improvement efforts should focus, and how much of the measurable results will need to be realized in the subsequent year to be on track to deliver on the three to five-year objectives.
  4. Identify top level improvement priorities - Now that the areas of focus are defined, the model(s) are identified. Using data, this step involves determining the specific area(s) that will serve as the model area to deliver results. Selecting the model is a critical step, because by using a model focus, experiments can be completed faster. Once a process is stabilized, the corresponding process, and supporting artifacts can be translated, or spread to other areas if the organization.
  5. Deploy the improvement priorities - It is in step five that improvements are actually realized. In this step we are deploying A3 thinking and the scientific method to realize double-digit improvement in our true north measures. However, we first have ensured linkage between strategy and improvement. This work is allowing us to realize our strategic plan.
  6. Monthly review - In this step we conduct a formal review of all the A3's that have been "deployed". This is a senior team meeting to review both the process and results. Oftentimes this is combined with a financial performance review (budget review) of the organization.
  7. Annual review - In this step, we review the process and results for the year. During this step, new annual breakthrough objectives are established and new improvement priorities for the upcoming year are defined. Lessons learned are captured so the deployment process and results can be improved on a year over year basis.

As I stated earlier, most organizations skip the first 4 steps. Organizations use a matrix to filter out and prioritize lean/ quality improvement projects and then jump to step 5 once the resources become available. This approach leaves the senior leadership group completely out of the improvement process. The leadership for improvement has been delegated. This is never a recipe for getting to world class.

To be truly excellent, ensure all improvement work is DIRECTLY tied to the organizational strategy. Senior leadership owns this activity.

Lean Blessings,


Lean Simplicity by Scott Brubaker

After a decade and a half (still a rookie!) of doing Lean Sensei consulting, I have become dedicated and indeed, “married to” simplicity in the Lean solution.

We all are familiar with the “Gemba Walk”, but what about a virtual Gemba Walk? Do we always review the engineering drawing of the building/layout before the Gemba Walk”? This is often referred to as spaghetti” mapping. Actually mark flow patterns on the engineering drawing...where does the Customer come from...the logistics, the information, the equipment, the staff, etc. Most importantly, ensure that you take actual observations into account...not what you “think” happens...but what actually is happening.

May I offer some healthcare and industrial outcomes that can and have occurred to me when the engineering drawings are thoroughly reviewed prior to the Gemba Walk.

  1. During a pre-construction Gemba Walk, utilizing the engineering drawings, the Team discovered that the only elevator access to an Adolescent Psychology Floor was not big enough to fit a gurney. This caused a complete redesign due to the fact that many Patients were brought to them via a gurney.
  2. Another Team at a Military Hospital was able to locate Patient entrance and exit paths that did not impede the other. This was discovered by a Team that was very familiar with the Facility…but had never considered looking at the Facility from a “bird’s eye view”.
  3. At a large Metropolitan Hospital, a Team involved in a PACU event was able to focus on Patient Flow…in a manner that was absolutely clear. This clarity was provided by the engineering drawings. A completely new Patient Flow process was implemented with outstanding improvements in efficiency.
  4. At a large Military Base, the deployment processing building’s engineering drawings were reviewed prior to the Gemba Walk. Bottom line, the team was amazed at how the current flow pattern actually caused Personnel to backtrack, run into each other and cover unreasonable and unnecessary distances. A significant amount of changes were implemented due to this effort…with very positive results.

Remember that you normally look at a map before you depart on a trip… why not make it standard work to do the same with the Facility roadmap…only the map is called the engineering drawing…before the Gemba Walk proceeds.

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment