In a bid to be more visible, some hospital leaders choose to have a greater presence on the wards.
However, all too often these visits tend to be ad hoc and result in friendly but largely unproductive conversations.
In a Lean hospital, leaders become more accessible and have a greater understanding of the frontline challenges, thanks to visual management and leader standard work, which involves senior management formally in the performance improvement process and increases mutual trust.
“One of the biggest reasons for success is good governance. Those hospitals that have sustained gains all have board-level commitment and directors with experience of Lean.” - Georgina Black, Partner, KPMG in Canada
To be effective role models, leaders adopt the same behavior they expect of all staff, by following their own standard work, asking questions (rather than handing down solutions), and acknowledging the challenges facing the frontline. They embrace problems as opportunities for improvement and constantly try to remove obstacles to success. A history of multiple, short-lived change management programs has made staff suspicious that Lean will suffer a similar fate, so leaders have to provide a constant, visible commitment, year after year.
The board has a critical role in maintaining organizational resolve, particularly when the Lean journey encounters obstacles or resistance. board members with experience and understanding of Lean will be better equipped for this task, so hospitals should consider recruiting new executives, setting up site visits to leading Lean hospitals (or institutions outside the health sector), and mandating the presence of senior leaders in improvement events or performance huddles.
KPMG in Africa’s healthcare teams are seeing a growing desire amongst the board members of private hospital groups to embrace Lean.
The methodology has not, until now, taken as much grip in African health systems as elsewhere in the world. However, early results that have improved quality while also reducing costs are building interest with board members, executives and staff. Africa has the enormous potential to accelerate their Lean journey by taking the experience from successful transformations and adapting it to their own environment. With increasing pressure on quality, access to care and cost many senior leaders are looking to use Lean throughout their organizations, and in the process become case studies for other African organizations.