Lean Takes Time

Have you ever heard the phrase “everything good in life takes time?” If so, you may understand that under common circumstances things do take time. It would be pretty unrealistic to develop and build a whole company from the ground up in less than a week or even month for that matter. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The plain and simple truth is that it takes time to do things, especially if it is going to be considered quality.

Implementing Lean

When embarking on the implementation of lean, I hear all too often that people assumed the changes would happen faster and that they would start to notice a cost or time savings right away. However, lean is not a “quick fix” fix program. In fact, if my grandma was here she would say starting lean is “slower than molasses” and she would be right. When you start the process of lean, various steps need to be taken in order for it to be truly successful. Everything from management styles to manufacturing processes to office procedures should be transparent and open to possible improvements and reorganization.

Lean is a journey, not a destination

Let’s consider the field of healthcare with lean implementation. There are many different processes and procedures happening all over in healthcare settings, which makes healthcare a prime candidate for lean and other possible improvements. Furthermore, much of the costs associated with healthcare end up digging into the pockets of nearly every American. If more healthcare processes were streamlined or improved to align with the concepts of lean, not only would the services provided by healthcare facilities be improved, but cost savings could also be reflected upon the patients. My mind just glazes over thinking about all the possible areas in healthcare that could benefit from lean practices. However, in addition to the component of time, one of the big challenges with lean concerns the task of creating the actual change. Most people are hardwired to simply enjoy or find comfort in familiarity, and when new processes or changes are considered it is normal to feel a bit unsettled or apprehensive. However, without improvements everything would stay the same and nothing would ever improve.

According to leanblog.org, Dr. Atul Gawande an Indian American surgeon and journalist suggests the following steps towards creating lasting changes:

  • You have to “understand existing norms and barriers to change,” understanding “what’s getting in their way.” This requires a lot of one-on-one mentoring of people.
  • “Evidence is not remotely enough,” as you need “seven touches” in talking with people seven times
  • Having seven key, easy to remember messages or pitches about the idea.

Change is not always easy, but in order for improvement to evolve and even exist, change must be accepted as just a normal part life.

The Possibilities are Endless

Never settle for mediocre, especially when processes and procedures could be improved to provide greater levels of productivity and enhanced levels of cost savings. Furthermore, for those who worry about the time involved with implementing lean concepts, remember, the time will pass anyway so why not spend it creating worthwhile changes.

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