The Top Four Ways to Assure Quality at the Source

Cherries on orchard tree

Each time I prepare to send out an electronic newsletter I follow a standard process that has been designed to ensure that a defect-free email goes out. The process includes proofreading copy before it goes into the newsletter format, testing links, and even testing the email format. Over the years we have refined this process multiple times to help us assure quality at the source.

The principle assure quality at the source is part of the continuous Improvement dimension on the Shingo Model. The way to assure quality at the source is through processes that are designed to make it easy to do things the right way and creating standards that produce the desired outcome. Assuring quality at the source is the opposite of a quality control department that is aimed at catching errors after they occur; it focuses on how to ensure that errors don’t happen in the first place; but if errors occur they are not passed down the line.  If the end goal is to create value for the customer, it is important to focus on quality in all stages and areas of the business. Continue reading →

Five Behaviors That Embrace Scientific Thinking

Posted on by CATALYSIS

Interior of Chemistry Classroom

The principle “embrace scientific thinking” falls within the continuous improvement dimension of the Shingo Model. Each principle within this dimension is essential to improvement, innovation, and continuous learning. If an organization is truly embracing scientific thinking everyone in the organization works to generate repeated cycles of experimentation and improvement when faced with a problem.

Here are some behaviors that embrace scientific thinking: Continue reading →

Dos and Don’ts of Implementing Process Observation

Posted on by CATALYSIS

Binoculars looking to the Manhattan skyline

Kamishibi, or process observation, is not only fun to say, but it is also an essential component of a lean management system. Process observation helps to ensure that you are maintaining standards and the standards you have in place are delivering on the expected outcome. If you walk away from processes that you improve, they will deteriorate by nature.

Here are some dos and don’ts to help you get started with process observation:

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How to Establish a No Blame Work Environment

Blaming you. Anxious man judged by different people pointing fingers at him. Negative human emotions feeling

Focus on the Process is one of the Shingo Principles that highlights how all outcomes are the result of a process and consequently it is nearly impossible for people to consistently produce ideal results with a poor process. W. Edwards Deming captured this idea well when he said, “A bad system will beat a good person every time.” Understanding this is the first step to establishing a no blame work environment.

Like my colleague Stephanie Van Vreede’s reaction when asked to write about one of the Shingo Principles, I immediately jumped to my favorite, Focus on Process (I know, lean thinkers get excited about odd things don’t we?). When I was first exposed to lean thinking the phrase, “it’s the process, not the person” resonated with me because I feel that all too often people are accused of not doing their job when they were not at fault. And as one can imagine, this makes for a toxic environment.  Continue reading →

Tips for Creating a Continuous Improvement Mindset

Start-up Company and Motivation in Business Concept. Paper Planes Flying with Shadow of Rocket over the Wall

The Shingo principle seek perfection is about challenging the status quo; always wanting to be better and do better. While perfection will never be obtained, the pursuit of perfection creates a mindset and culture of continuous improvement.

Over the years, I have seen many healthcare organizations who are striving to attain operational excellence by focusing on the Shingo Principles, and found they all have some behaviors in common in their pursuit of perfection.

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Dos and Don’ts of Implementing a Daily Huddle

Posted on by CATALYSIS

Football team huddled during time out while playing game

A daily huddle can go by many names; improvement huddle, performance huddle, just a huddle, whatever you want to call it. No matter the name, there are many reasons to implement a daily huddle; for example, to facilitate continuous daily improvement, engage your team in problem solving, and help your team understand the importance of their work in achieving system objectives. One of the important characteristics about a daily huddle is that it gives an outlet to surface defects in daily flow.

If you are thinking about implementing a daily huddle in your area or unit here are some things you should keep in mind:

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Seven of Our Favorite Helpful Questions

Businesswoman with question mark

A leader’s role is to develop their people to solve problems. Asking open-ended, helpful questions will help draw out deeper thinking and strengthen the problem-solving muscles. Many times, the best helpful questions begin with ‘what’ and ‘how,’ rather than ‘who’ and ‘why.’ For a question to truly be helpful it must be delivered in a humble way.

Here is a list of some of our favorite helpful questions:

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How to Encourage Systemic Thinking

Jigsaw is a harmony among the group will not be impossible.

When I was asked to write about one of the Shingo Principles, I immediately thought of my favorite– “Think Systemically.” I’ll explain why it’s one of my favorites at the end.

How many times have you heard colleagues talking about their improvement work, excitement in their voice, but then begin to wonder if this work was done in a silo? Why? Because sometimes what has improved for them or their portion of the value stream can create more work for you or others that is not value added.  Or the work can sometimes impact work you do, and you were not queried about possible impacts or input into the process. When thinking systemically, this sort of occurrence and frustration is minimized or eliminated.  Continue reading →

Five Leader Behaviors That Show Respect for Every Individual

Posted on by Paul Pejsa


To me, respect for every individual means to have empathy for those around you; to think about the impact of your actions and behavior on others.  I believe that in order to have empathy for someone you need to be able to walk in their shoes and understand their perspective.

The Shingo Model shows respect every individual at the base of the pyramid and lists it as a cultural enabler; meaning that it is part of the foundation that all other principles are built on. If your organization is not living this principle you will not truly be able to demonstrate any of the other Shingo principles.

So how do you show respect for someone?

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Achieve Enterprise Alignment by Creating Constancy of Purpose

rowing team race

Enterprise alignment means getting every person in the organization to row in the same direction, which makes the organization stronger and allows achievement of better results. Creating constancy of purpose is fundamental to attaining enterprise alignment. Senior leadership must define the purpose of the organization, align the strategy and True North metrics to the purpose, and communicate this consistently with the entire organization. This will enable staff at all levels to connect their daily work with the organization’s mission. Creating constancy of purpose will help staff feel more connected to the mission and in turn they will likely feel more ownership and pride in their work.

Here is some advice for creating constancy of purpose in your organization:

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