Every day we come to work and do the best we can to take care of our patients and their families. Sometimes, however, we find ourselves performing activities that may not provide any true value to our patients or even to us. These activities make our jobs more difficult, take longer to complete, frustrate patients and cost the hospital more money. In the “World of Lean” we call these non-value-added activities.
But, what is Lean anyway? Lean is defined as creating more value for customers but using fewer resources. The definition can include other variations, but all of those definitions have these elements in common:
· meet customer expectations
· add value
· reduce/non-value-added activities
· respect people
· use input and expertise from all stakeholders to
· achieve optimal outcomes
When an organization begins its Lean journey, it can choose to “be Lean” or “do Lean.” To “do Lean” as if it is an extra activity in our workday is not the best application of Lean. Plus, this approach is reactive in nature. By “doing Lean,” we are trying to correct what we are already doing ineffectively or reduce the things we are doing unnecessarily. At a minimum, an organization should “do Lean.”
The key, instead, is to “be Lean.” This means Lean is a natural part of our daily workflow. We constantly look for ways to reduce or eliminate wastes such as excess inventory, long wait times for patients and rework. These non-value-added activities are like excess fat that can and should be trimmed.
“Being Lean” is what a world class organization does because Lean is part of who they are. Being as Lean as possible is our end goal, which means we incorporate Lean tools into our daily work processes to provide the best care possible to our patients and their families.
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