Can you Help the Unwilling?

Can you help the unwilling? My co-worker and I are completely paralyzed by a group of staff members in an implementation that refuse to adopt the principles of Lean because it takes away the “joy” of working and the group cohesion. According to them, now that Lean has been implemented, they don’t have time to talk anymore…they’re always working.

The thing here is Lean has not taken away the group cohesion, it has just made them do something they have not done before – WORK!!! I may be from a different school of thought, but when I come to work I work. I am not there to socialize and catch up on the latest lunch room gossip. Being that I work in health care, there is no dictating when the work comes in either. So, as a health careworker, you have to assume that your day is going to be filled with work, and when and how hard you work is completely determined by the patient. Patient’s don’t chose when they get ill, and that is why health care is a continuous operation. That’s the purpose of implementing Lean. The patient doesn’t care that you don’t have time to talk to your co-worker about their vacation, the patient wants to know what is wrong with them so they can be treated and go home. In mind, it is completely insensitive of this group of employees who feel that their sense of joy from the workplace has been eliminated from their job. You are not paid to chat, you are paid to work. What keeps the doors of our hospitals open is being able to have a patient turnover rate that is more than acceptable to the patient.

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Never more has this concept been evident than when we recently closed the doors on one of our hospitals after being in business for over 50 years. We couldn’t meet the demands of the patient, and unfortunately for us time beat Lean to the punch. With this in mind, the staff at the other hospital, the ones refusing to adopt Lean, should be extremely mindful of this and should be working diligently to make sure the same doesn’t happen at their place of employment. After all, the joy of coming to work is knowing that you have a job to come to.

The struggle for me is being able to successfully implement the Lean principles into this type of environment. The staff have dug their heels in 100%, and aren’t budging. Now, most Lean experts would say this is the point where you must rely on management to enforce the changes. However, the staff have a hold on management as well, and management can get no where with them. So now what; do we clean house? Will that solve anything? In the end, we’re stuck, deflated, and out of ideas.

Let me know your thoughts and experiences on this scenario.

Comments 2

  1. Gary Burger

    I am a CLSSBB and I find two errors in your blog. First, Leaning a process should not take the fun out of coming to work. Lean standardizes the processes so that when you are so tired you don’t know what day it is, you can still function. Lean does not say you cannot talk about your weekend or your vacation or yesterday’s football game. If your hospital tried to regiment everything so tightly that there was no fun left, it si no wonder that Lean failed.

    Second, work can be fun. There can be comaraderie at work. There can be joy. If you eliminate the joy from work you burn people out very quickly. Lean can be used to make work easier and more joyous. I find that people look forward to Leaning processes but you have to make it an enjoyable experience. If you make everyone think it is just more work, they will hate it.

    Healthcare can be very depressing unless workers can envision what they do as something special. Lean can be used as a tool just as a bandaid or an asprin. Don’t beat people with Lean. Entice them with it. Make learning a break from the monotiny of work. Make the experience win-win for management and the workers.

  2. Ajay

    Acceptance from your co-workers is important during implementation phase.If you dont let them know why you are initiating these plans,then there will be resistance.FUN at work is critical.If you can work with them rather than TELL them,you will see some amazing results.

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