Healthcare World Series Favorite: St. Mary’s General Hospital

Old Baseball, Glove, and Bat on Field

As a child I aspired to be a sports journalist. I used to look forward to Thursday’s more than any other day of the week.  Thursday was the day that my father’s Sports Illustrated magazine arrived in the mail.  The excitement and anticipation I had for this delivery would cause me to run home from school and wait patiently by the mailbox for it to be delivered.  I would read the magazine cover to cover in just a few hours.

Obviously, sports journalism was not the career path I chose and as an adult it is not as common to get that same feeling of excitement and anticipation about anything (except for maybe opening day of the new baseball season). However, as I boarded a plane to head to Kitchener, Ontario to visit Catalysis Healthcare Value Network member, St. Mary’s General Hospital, I felt that same childhood excitement and anticipation bubbling up.

I had heard from multiple sources, both inside and outside of Catalysis, that St. Mary’s General Hospital is an example of what good looks like in a healthcare organization (or World Series favorite if you are a baseball fan like me). Witnessing their daily management system, strategy deployment, front-line engagement and leadership-led lean initiative was well worth visiting Canada in February.  Continue reading →

Why a Lean Management System?

Posted on by Patsy Engel


The health care system I worked for began its lean journey as many organizations do; using lean tools and rapid improvement or kaizen events. We experienced huge improvements and were excited about our results. However, after about four years our operational managers started to express frustration that we were not sustaining breakthrough improvement. We realized that we had gaps in our approach to improvement.

That is when we began work to design and implement a lean management system. Developing the lean management system required us to move away from a project mentality for improvement to a system that builds a continuous improvement culture. The overall objective of a lean management system is to develop people to solve problems and improve performance. Continue reading →

Change Your Behavior, Change Your Results

Posted on by Paul Pejsa

The day the world changed concept

Many healthcare organizations are coming to the realization that tool-based implementations are insufficient to sustain continuous improvement. This is leading organizations to take a principle-based approach to operational excellence.

Adopting a principle-based approach can seem daunting, and many leaders are not sure where to start. Here is some advice:  Continue reading →

3P: The Mindset Behind the Tool

house on virtual screen in man hand

“We did a 3P for our last project, and it was HORRIBLE.  I will never do another one again!”  I heard this at a networking event not long ago, and I felt the need to know more.  What went wrong?  How was it approached?  What did the process really look like?  It made me wonder how many more people might feel this way and shy away from this kind of event after hearing about other experiences like this one. How many organizations replicate this “less than ideal” version of 3P – the one without true transformation, quality results, and champions – without even realizing what they missed?

Saying 3P’s aren’t valuable is like saying “I hate shovels!” Continue reading →

It’s Not About the First Question

Too Many Questions. Colourful question marks background

As a leader preparing to go to gemba or connecting with staff at huddle, the emphasis is often placed on crafting that perfect question. While having a good first question is important, I would like to suggest that it is not as important as what comes next.

Your reaction to the answer could overshadow the question and will impact what those you are coaching take away from it.  Continue reading →

Why You Need to Go-and-See

Child Magnifying Glass, Amazed School Kid, Student Boy with Magnifier Study Mathematics, Math Education

One of the best parts of my job is meeting with healthcare leaders from across the country and hearing about their organization’s cultural transformation as well as their own personal transformations as leaders in a lean environment. I recently had the opportunity to spend time with Keith Knoll, President at Wellspan’s York Hospital. It was awesome to go-and-see at York Hospital and hear Keith candidly share about the cultural change that is occurring there.  Continue reading →

The Key to Breakthrough Results from Innovation: Address the Whole Care Model

Minimalist stile red airplane changing direction and white ones. New idea, change, trend, courage, creative solution, innovation and unique way concept.

Many healthcare executives are interested in building innovation capability in their organizations. Oftentimes this interest manifests as a stated objective in the enterprise strategic plan to “do innovation” and some lucky (or unlucky) soul is pulled aside and asked to add the initiative to their existing, long list of responsibilities. They end up stuck with the mandate – “go forth and innovate!” Continue reading →

Hope is Not a Strategy, and A Wish is Not a Plan

Dandelion clock dispersing seed

It’s not uncommon to hear statements like “I think this will help us achieve that target,” or “I hope this change in process will get us to where we need to be” from operations managers when it comes to new goals or targets being defined for the year. But hope is not a strategy, and a wish is not a plan. It is necessary for organizations to create a plan to ensure that the improvement work they are doing will impact their True North enough to achieve the goal.  Continue reading →

Being Open to Learning and Using Process Behavior Charts Means Unlearning Something Else

Posted on by Mark Graban


Better Metrics

Why don’t people adopt best practices? I get asked this question a lot. What are some of the possible answers? Sometimes, it’s as simple as people not being aware of the better way. You can’t blame people for not adopting something they haven’t been taught.

Other times, people just get really anchored in the way they were taught to do something. That’s sometimes a variation of “the way we’ve always done it” or they might have been taught a new practice last year. People probably won’t try something new unless they see a problem with the way they’re currently doing it. Or, it might be politically risky to scrap something you just implemented. Either way, the human mind seems to favor the certainty of suboptimal performance over the risk of trying a new way that might not work.  Continue reading →

Don’t Let Performance Fail Because of Poor Execution

Posted on by Mike Radtke

Leadership Concepts over Human Head

Many executive teams spend significant time and resources developing a differentiating strategy, defining their priorities and deploying performance targets to set them apart from other hospitals or health systems. Unfortunately, all too often they look back and realize that they didn’t get where they planned to go because of poor execution.

Why does this happen? One reason is that operations and the front lines lose focus and alignment to priorities as other issues arise. Managers may not be equipped to handle the priorities in a way that keeps them aligned with the defined true north and strategic performance challenge. Or worse, they focus too heavily on reaching outcome measures without focusing on the processes that deliver those outcomes and engaging the people who actually do the work.  Continue reading →