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Did Toyota Go Too Lean?

Unless you have been under a rock for the past decade you know that Toyota has been the standard-bearer for all that is right in quality and efficiency. Their Lean Production methods have been morphed into all industries, including healthcare. Everyone has jumped on the Lean Bandwagon – was it the right move?
Now with news of accelerator design problems and leaky hoses, Toyota finds themselves with a great deal of explaining to do. How could the model of production excellence go down the path of the lemon?

These questions are not easily answered. Just as Toyota took more than 30 years to perfect its methods, so to will it take more than a trip to Washington, DC to correct the problem. Supply chains, inspection processes, and more have to be evaluated to ensure the Toyota products are back to their impeccable service records. It takes time.

So what can you do as a healthcare provider following Lean Methods prevent a Toyota situation in your practice or organization?

1. Don’t Stop. No one said Lean is “Mean.” (Sorry for the rhyme. It just worked.) This is a perfect time for you to reevaluate your Lean Methods and double-check everything. You will eventually win out in initiatives such as Meaningful Use, PQRI and the RACS by sticking with sound Lean principles.

2. Remember this is a journey. Any Lean professional will tell you, the Lean process is a journey. These recent events will provide even better clarity for you as hone your Lean methods.

3. Reengage your colleagues. Now is the wake up call for your colleagues to recognize that everyone has a part to play in making sure from design, to execution, your processes, services and products must be the best. Lean methods are not just about efficiency; they are also about quality.

4. Remind everyone – your goal is to exceed all expectations. Rework and cutting corners is the rope that given enough of it will hang you in the end. Don’t let that happen to you.

5. Keep learning from your mistakes as well as others. No need to throw Lean out with the bath water. However, keep pushing to find those areas where you can improve. It’s not about the program it’s about “doing the right things right.” Lean is just a mechanism to achieve your goals.

Did Toyota go too lean? Maybe they did in some areas. One thing is for sure they will certainly rise above this current issue. We can all learn from this to make healthcare more efficient, safer and the best it’s ever been.

For more information on this or other ways to improve your clinical processes please contact Jeff Dance, Senior Consultant at KeySys Health, LLC. Phone: 205-612-1750 or email jdance@keysyshealth.com . Visit our website at www.keysyshealth.com

Jeff has more than 20 years experience in healthcare consulting organizations that develop sound policies and procedures to comply with internal and external standards. His unique experience has allowed him to see the clinical, administrative and payer aspects of healthcare.


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