Know What to Work, When

Posted on by Kim Barnas


I’ve visited a number of organizations and one of the recurring problems I’ve seen is lack of an effective prioritization process. I think this is paramount. In this world of competing priorities and regulation, we must have a way to focus on the “vital few,” demonstrate and stabilize the improvement, and move on to the next “vital few.” We will accomplish more sustainable solutions with added focus.  Continue reading →

What is the Recipe for Success?

Grilled skewers on a grilled plate

Working in the Catalysis Healthcare Value Network (CHVN), I get to see many healthcare organizations that are working to improve value for patients. CHVN member organizations are at varying places along their lean journey. Some just starting out and others are more mature in their thinking. No matter what, each time I visit an organization I learn from them.

Recently, I visited Catalysis Healthcare Value Network member organizations, Nemours Children’s Health System and Herman Miller. Each of these organizations have been on a lean journey for quite some time and are very mature in their thinking. When traveling back home I began to think about what makes mature organizations successful. Continue reading →

How Do You Know Your Problem Solving Is Driving Improvement If You Are Not Measuring It?

Posted on by Kim Barnas

Tape Measures on Brown Wooden Background

As I visit healthcare organizations around North America, people come forward sharing concerns that they are hitting a wall, even within the management system. Often what I hear is that they have implemented stat sheets and huddles, but not all of them have implemented a performance review process. The management system is just that—a system!  The goal is to develop people to solve problems and improve performance.  How do you know if your problem solving is driving improvement if you are not measuring it?  Continue reading →

Creating Value for the Customer

Aspirations Concept

When I tell people that I do “innovation” at Catalysis I usually get some puzzled looks. This is often followed by questions like, “what is that?” or “what exactly do you do?” I don’t blame them, “innovation” has become a buzzword with a variety of meanings depending on who you ask. I want to explain what the term means at Catalysis, how it relates to process improvement, and share what I have learned over the past year and a half while following an innovative design process.

Innovation and process improvement exist for the same purpose; to create value for the customer or patient. Process improvement efforts focus on removing waste from current processes and reduce or eliminate defects. Innovation strives to add value by creating new products or services based on the needs of the customers.  Continue reading →

Throw Middle Managers a Life Line

Posted on by CATALYSIS

Life saver on a blue wooden background

The lean approach to organizational transformation seeks to create an environment that is conducive to empowering team members at the frontline.

While Executives leaders are learning their role in the lean improvement process, tools and techniques for driving process improvement are being taught and implemented at the frontline.

Executive leadership is working work hard to learn its role in this new environment. Although they are in a steep learning curve, they must simultaneously lead the organization forward. It is important not to forget the team members and their middle managers who find themselves in the crosshairs of all this change.  Continue reading →

Stop Firefighting and Start Planning

Posted on by Kim Barnas


One of the first components needed in a management system is a way to look at your day. We call that our status sheet. It’s a daily check-in. It could be a huddle, it could be a conversation, whatever it is that you are doing, but it is at the front line and focused on identifying what is happening in the business today. How can you proactively think about your business in a way that solves problems before they occur?  Continue reading →

Connecting Physicians, Staff and Community with Strategy

Posted on by Kim Barnas

Stack of hands. Unity and teamwork concept.

Catalysis Healthcare Value Network member, New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC), serves as a hub for seven counties in North Carolina. The system consists of two hospitals and thirty-six physician practices. In 2018 Forbes named NHRMC one of the top employers in America -an honor that their CEO, John Gizdic, attributes to the engagement of their staff and the organization’s culture.

A significant part of engaging the workforce is allowing them to do meaningful work that aligns with the goals of the organization. When visiting NHRMC I saw first-hand their strong alignment and engagement between staff and physicians with their strategy.  Continue reading →

Remember Why You Do It

Mother and Child in Pediatric Office

Every now and then we need to step back and remember why we are putting all of this effort into culture transformation and process improvement. When I lose sight, I think back to four years ago when my youngest son was born and I felt the impact of improvement work from the patient perspective. Now I would like to share that experience with you.

It’s 10:30 pm and I am sitting wide awake in my newborn’s hospital room wondering if I will ever be able to take him home. It seems like we have been here forever and nobody is telling me anything; I am not even sure how serious my son’s condition is!  I feel frustrated and powerless, so I just keep watching my baby from the rocking chair next to his incubator. He looks so small and alone; I just want to pick him up and hold him.  Continue reading →

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 Thursdays 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.  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 →