The early achievements of applying Lean principles to healthcare have been useful but often fragmented efforts, creating islands of improvement in the short-term but failing to deliver lasting benefits. If Lean is to realize its potential, it has to be adopted on a broader basis to become ‘the way we do things around here’ rather than just a series of projects.
For this to happen, Lean needs to become part of the daily work of frontline staff and managers. A number of organizations are moving in this direction by creating daily improvement huddles where teams brainstorm new ideas, broadcast performance results within each unit, and ensure senior leaders spend more time at the frontline.
Again, these advances – while positive – lack coherence. Long-term success can only come through an integrated management system that supports frontline engagement, root cause problem solving and continuous improvement.