Simple Steps for Creating a Status Sheet

Posted on by Patsy Engel

Female feet with arrow painted on the asphalt.

The goal of a lean management system is to develop people to solve problems and improve performance. But how can you do that if you don’t really know what your problems are? That is why we developed the status sheet. (commonly called the stat sheet).   A stat sheet is one element of a lean management system that is intended to enable leaders to learn the business, proactively plan/mitigate risk, and develop people. Over time it will also allow leaders to gain insights for future problem solving.

A stat sheet is often one of the first components organizations adopt when initiating a lean management system. Think of the stat sheet as a tool to encourage structured, meaningful dialogue between a staff member and their leader. This conversation will allow you to gather information on the current state of your business. Trust me, you will be surprised at what you learn!

Here are some tips for creating your own stat sheet:

Develop Questions

Sure, this seems rather obvious, but the first thing you will need is a list of questions. Begin by thinking about the things that keep you up at night, or the first thing you check on when you arrive at work in the morning. What questions could you ask to get information that would put your mind at ease? If your organization has set True North metrics think about questions in terms of the areas in True North. In many cases these categories are things like safety, quality, people, customer satisfaction, and financial stewardship. Try to come up with a few questions that get information in each of these areas.

When developing your questions, remember that words matter. Edgar Schein wrote a book on the art of asking questions titled Humble Inquiry, this is a helpful reference when developing your stat sheet questions. Use open-ended questions to encourage the person responding to elaborate. And to ensure that the questions don’t sound punitive, ask questions that you truly do not know the answers to.

Listen to the Answers

Now it is time to turn your listening ears on. When you are asking your questions make sure you allow the person responding time to think before answering, to fully explain what they are telling you, and resist the urge to prompt to give them answers.  Remember that the whole point is to learn and the best way to do that is to listen. Not only listen but encourage them to tell you more. If you hear that there is a plan in place for the next patients who will be moved to the unit, then ask what the plan is. This allows you to learn about what is happening and the thought process and problem-solving skills of the person you are talking with. This will enable you to be a better coach to them as you help them develop their problem-solving skills.

Change It Up

Now that you have developed and tested your questions prepare to change them up. There are a few reasons/instances where you will want to change up your questions. One is due to staff development needs. Different people on your team will have different areas that you want to focus on for growth and development like time management, planning, or coaching others. Changing up questions is the best way to tailor the conversation to an individual’s specific needs. After asking your questions a few times you might find that you really are not getting at the information you hoped when you carefully formulated the question. It’s okay to change the question so it is valuable for both you and your staff member. Finally, over time these questions may start to feel more like a checklist than a tool to guide dialogue. This is an indicator that it is time to change up the questions.

Remember the purpose of the stat sheet is to understand the business, eliminate firefighting by planning ahead, and be able to see developing trends and fix them before they become emergencies. As you continue using the stat sheet process you will find that the conversation will become richer. You will learn things about your business and people that you were unaware of.  While the stat sheet can be a very helpful tool, remember for it to truly make an impact it should be implemented along with the entire lean management system.

Please share in the comments section below what surprised you when you started using a stat sheet.

Patsy Engel, Faculty


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