Business process guru shares myriad messages with St. Francis Health audience
INDIANAPOLIS – When detectives in Japan flock to a crime scene, they refer to it as gemba, meaning “the real place” – and situation requiring a solution. But the term also applies to hospitals, factory floors and construction sites, any place where work is done.
“Gemba is the place where service is created and provided, and how you interact with your customers,” said Maasaki Imai, “In hospitals, for example, it can mean improving patient flow [from admissions to treatment to discharge]. Your patients look to you for care. You create value.”
That’s one of the messages that Imai, an internationally acclaimed management consultant who has championed the gemba kaizen business approach, delivered to Franciscan St. Francis Health employees and representatives from other hospitals during his visit to the south-side hospital June 13.
The kaizen philosophy is used by many health care organizations – including Franciscan St. Francis – government, banking, and industries around the globe. It was implemented in Japan in the wake of World War II, largely influenced by visiting U.S. business experts who were enlisted to help rebuild the shattered Japanese economy.
Kaizen’s premise is that small changes, occurring at various levels and in coordination, lead to better customer service, more efficient work and reduction in waste. Imai established the Kaizen Institute in 1986 to help Western companies introduce kaizen concepts, systems and tools.
|Imai met with visitors after the seminar and signed free |
copies of his latest book, Gemba Kaizen: A Commonsense,
Low-Cost Approach to Management.
Gemba kaizen embraces the skills of a whole organization, encouraging and rewarding employee contributions and understanding even the smallest improvements will create greater value over time. When used in the workplace, the process promotes activities which continually improve all functions, and involves all employees from the executive suites to front-line workers.
“It is the moral obligation of any organization’s leadership to apply lean principles and to constantly find ways to make improvements on their products,” Imai said. “When a problem exists, leaders must go to the source of the problem, take temporary countermeasures to fix it on the spot, discover the root causes of the problem, and implement standards to prevent future trouble.”
Imai cited General Motors as an example of how large corporations often fall short by not fostering activities which continually improve their way of doing business and encouraging its workforce to participate in process improvements
"GM's top management never applied a lean approach to business, much to its detriment," said Imai. "Even after your government bailed it out, nothing has changed at GM."
|St. Francis Health CEO Bob Brody was among |
the seminar participants.