Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The concept of Kaizen--small, incremental improvements--is at the heart of the Lean philosophy.  But small does not mean meaningless.  Each such change offers the chance to deliver better service to the customer and/or provide better working conditions for the staff.

Thus, when I see examples of Kaizen in action, I smile.  The changes are the result of concerted efforts by people on the front line, supported by their managers.  They represent a thoughtful approach to process improvement, one that goes beyond a simple project and reflects an underlying element of what it means to be a learning organization.

Here are two examples from Jeroen Bosch Ziekenhuis in the Netherlands.  You see below before and after pictures of the nurses work station in the dialysis unit.  The top picture shows a cluttered workspace that interferes with the everyday job of the nurses.

With some simple reorganization and the construction of some inexpensive shelves, items are placed in a manner that allows the work surface to be clean of obstructions.

The next example is elegant in its simplicity.  The walls of the clinic--including connections for electricity and other utilities--were suffering damage from the dialysis chairs when patients leaned back to be comfortable.  By affixing a line to the floor, each chair is assured of being "parked" correctly--far enough from the wall--eliminating the potential for expensive damage and disruption of work flows.


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