People Develop, But Do People Develop People?

I don’t think so.  At least I think it’s more complex than that.  I’ve blogged about this before.

Muck of what I hear about “people development” seems to be based on some questionable principles of the prevailing style of management.   Dr. W. Edwards Deming had a term for this “the mythology of management” (referring to what he saw in the Western world).

In his 1993 book, The New Economics, he described “faulty practices of management with suggestions for better practice.  Here is a partial list:

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I like the contributions of Heero Hacquebord as well.  Heero is one of the people who worked very closely with Dr. Deming and would often participate in his 4-day seminars.  Heero provided a helpful presentation at the Ohio Quality and Productivity Forum years ago.  Here is a summary of Heero’s lists:

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I think that the prevailing style of management is described in the left-hand columns from Dr. Deming and Heero Hacquebord.  This style is not fixed.  It’s actually a relatively modern invention.  It’s not the kind of management we need now and in the future.

Yes we need for people to move from the prevailing style to a better style (they must develop), but we must not approach this in a mechanistic, reductionistic, formula-driven approach.  People are complex.  They have a free will.  For instance, we can use extrinsic motivation (one person trying to motivate another), but that approach is based on the left-hand world.  It will not only likely backfire, it will most likely make matters worse.  This s also well-supported in the peer-reviewed literature.  A useful article (Self Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development and Well Being) by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan can be found at this link.  Edward Deci has a helpful book titled Why We Do What We Do, and Alfie Kohn has written several books on this topic including Punished By Rewards.

These are my thoughts.  What do you think?

Dancing with the (lean) stars – and the CEO

When we welcome new organizations to the Healthcare Value Network, the usual orientation method is a webinar in which we provide information about the Network and how members can access the other member organizations and the systems and event offerings we have.

When I made my initial site visit to Tucson Medical Center, we talked about the orientation process and they asked if we could do something special – something in-person.  “Sure, let’s try something different”, was my response.

I returned this past week, and joined the managers and staff for a celebration.

tmcaz celebrate

Here’s a short video of my intro to the history-making orientation.   This group knows how to celebrate, and they also like to dance.  That’s me with the CEO, Judy Rich.  We were dancing at the end of the celebration, and if I get a video clip of that, I’ll update this blog.

mike & judy








They prepared a nice video that summarizes some of their work to date.  Take a look at this, and see the kind of great work they doing.

Here are some of the great results they have achieved thus far:

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Watch for continued great contributions from this great (and fun) organization!  Welcome to the Healthcare Value Network.



OK, now get back to work

I took some time off from work.  I mean, I really took some time off.  But now the fun is over, and it’s back to work.  (That reminds me, I need to write a blog post on one of my favorite books “The Three Boxes of Life and How to Get Out Of Them“)

I had the good fortune to visit some of our Healthcare Value Network member organizations in the New England area almost immediately after my vacation was over.  There’s lots of good stuff going on, and here’s one example – a brief summary from UMass Memorial Health Care:

With the appointment of their new CEO and President, Dr Eric Dickson, the Lean journey at UMMHC has launched toward “Becoming Lean” from “Doing Lean”.  During the past year, Eric has championed Idea Systems, Executive Rounding, Leadership training opportunities, and Hoshin Kanri.  He has focused the organization on True North and has championed A3s like Flow, Access and other strategic initiatives to close the gap in the financial performance.  The summation of all these efforts and more have contributed to a predicted positive profit margin for FY14 instead of a budgeted loss.  The employees are looking forward to his continued leadership in making UMMHC “The Best Place to Give Care and the Best Place to Get Care”.

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I took a short video of a document that describes some of the improvement work.  Here’s the link to that video:

I think the real improvement came about because they realized that the advice they received from some consultants (experts in benchmarking, so they said) had led them down the wrong (and expensive) path and now they are recovering with some real improvement.  Unfortunately, I personally wasted years of my life in companies where there was this belief (based on faulty principles) that it was possible to divide the organization into parts, find benchmark numbers (productivity, etc.) on similar parts (departments) and then give people these target numbers and tell them to meet those numbers.  “If these organizations can manage to this level of productivity, then you can do it!”.  Total bunk!  Absolutely the worst possible approach that anyone could take.  I regret every minute of my time spent in that wasteful and destructive activity.  This has been a topic of my blogs multiple times (paper presented at Deming Research Summit, To Be List, Item #8, This is truth!, the case against performance appraisals, guiding principles, values & behaviors, rehearsing, life-long learning, lean in imaging.  I also posted some thoughts on our ThedaCare Center blog.  It’s a reoccurring theme.

But the good news is that we can find examples of organizations taking a better approach.  I plan to return in a few months to this terrific organization and better understand and document the improvement work thus far.  So, watch for that update.

All Work and No Play … Rende Mike Un Ragazzo Ottuso

I think there’s more to life than work (I also think there’s more to work than “standard work” … but that’s a different blog post).

I blasted out of orbit from the giant hairball and visited Italy with some friends.  Actually, we just found a different hairball to orbit.

These are some of our adventures (with random photos and links to videos in no particular order).


Peg takes a hike in montesssoro


weird wine museum


what to do when they close down alba?


il signore delle mosche


hike in italy (the glacier)


watching italy’s last world cup game 2014


italian yarn shop–Zbo


roaming the roman ruins


italian postal service


picnic near italian castle


some day all this will be yours


legolas’ steps & peg


we have no idea what’s going on


chllin at home base


storming the castle – part 1
part 2 of storming the castle
storming the castle, finale – the butt lift

italian manifestation marching band


recycling & trash day in italy


looks like “plan b”

plan b starts with wine


but I got this great parking spot


the meat is undercooked, but the water is well done


found another ancient roman theatre


we found something that was open in aqua terme italy


international incident – part 1
international incident – part 2

do you want your lunch with our without a helicopter?


Everyone in Italy is on our highway


Toll booth international incident – part 1

For whom the booth tolls


Iceman gift shop

Sprechen sie deutsch? nein


We made it.  It was a miracle!


Peg’s hiking advice


Four musketeers in Ortesei Italy


Austrian wild hogs


going up




Clean up crew


We thought we were on the canal bus


NOW we are on the bus



We thought we found our hotel



Let it be – on San Marco Plaza



Watching the world cup in Venice



Interpreti Vivaldi




Simulated gondola ride


Tina walking




Board of Directors Huddle – Lesson from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

A few years back I heard John Shook (CEO at Lean Enterprise Institute) say that healthcare is doing some innovating things in their efforts to apply lean thinking.  He identified 3 items in particular:

1) Using white boards.

2) Using check-lists.

3) Stand-up huddles.

These may not sound that innovative for other industries, but for healthcare it IS pretty radical.  I saw one organization take the huddle process even further.  During a recent trip to St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener, Ontario I watched a hospital Board of Directors meeting start with a brief huddle.  Here’s a very short clip of that huddle: 

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This is pretty impressive, and is rare.  I was at another facility a few weeks ago and the senior management team went on and on about how they were trying to “get teams to huddle” across the organization.  When they paused for questions, I asked, “do you huddle as a team?”  Their silence said everything.  Leadership is doing (trying?) different things, not just talking about how they want others to do different things.

Best Conference Ever! – Till Next Year (2014 Edition)

We just wrapped up the 5th Annual Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit in Los Angeles.  Based on my conversations with many who attended, it was one of the best conferences ever.  Of course I said that back in 2012.

There were lots of highlights.  We featured many Healthcare Value Network member organizations in a variety of ways: 20 Network members presented in our “Experiments Around the Network”; our CEO keynote panel featured three Network CEOs (Maura Davies, Kathryn Correia and Laura Easton); once again this year we hosted a CEO track with the majority those in attendance coming from HVN Member organizations; and we had a great networking at the reception with Live Jazz music from John Toussaint and Network member Terrigal Burn from Palo Alto Medical Foundation!

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There were lots of “favorite” presentations to choose from, and it is hard to select one that stood out above the others.  My primary responsibility at the Summit was to facilitate a series of presentations at a breakout session for CEOs.  I call it “the summit within the summit”.  These were all great presentations and discussions, but I’m going to feature one in this blog post that really stuck out for me.

Len Barry, PhD, from the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University presented on a topic that really grabbed my attention: “Common Success Drivers of  Three High Performance Health Systems in Wisconsin”


Of 306 U.S. Hospital referral regions analyzed in the 2012 Commonwealth Fund study on access, quality, costs and health outcomes, the Wisconsin regions of Appleton, La Crosse, Green Bay and Neenah rank overall 5,7,12 and 14, respectively.  So, he asked the question “what is going on in Wisconsin?”

Dr. Beery spent several weeks “embedded” in three health care organizations: Gundersen Lutheran in La Crosse, Bellin Health in Green Bay and ThedaCare in Appleton.

“Why are three independent health systems in one state doing so well?” he asked.  Dr. Berry found that Gundersen, ThedaCare and Bellin Health had several things in common that many hospitals across the U.S. don’t:

  • The core of success is stable, value-driven leadership by the management and hospital board. Each hospital has a CEO who has been there a long time. That gives other organization leaders confidence to be bold. The hospital board also works closely with leadership and is not seen as the enemy, as in some other organizations.
  • Each has core values like innovation, respect and excellence. “Many (other health care organizations) have the wrong ones,” Berry said.
  • Each has common cultures of focusing on accountability, collaboration and being unconventional.
  • Institutional self-confidence, which paves the way for unconventional thinking and high aspirations. “These institutions are better at controlling their destiny,” Berry said. “They make the tough decisions today to strengthen the organization tomorrow.”
  • A broad view of value. It’s not just a focus on lowering cost, but improving the patient service.
  • Teamwork and coordination between doctors and departments. “The language of team work — I heard it wherever I went,” Berry said.

“What drives the success is focus, but that doesn’t mean you’re perfect,” he said.

Each organization needs to work on a few things, like more of a local presence and engaging patients more creatively in being responsible for their own health, he said.

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If you want to learn more about Dr. Berry and his work, go to this link to obtain a copy of an article that he co-authored with Dr. John Toussaint, “The Promise Of Lean In Healthcare

T-Minus 14 Days Until the Annual Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit – A New Kind of Hero

I’m counting down the days until the 5th Annual Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit, June 4-5 in Los Angeles, CA. I hope it helps in getting the word out. We are 14 days away, and we have 557 people registered!  More than half of the attendees are Healthcare Value Network members!

We produced this video that describes what you’ll see at the Summit.

The last few days I was at “the other summit” – the 5th Annual Patient Experience: Empathy + Innovation Summit in Cleveland, OH.  There were 2,100 people registered and many good speakers and presentations.  Many of the stories were from the patient’s perspective – their disappointment in the lack of empathy and flaws of the delivery system.  This link takes you to a video from one of the presenters – Morgan Gleason.

Many of the presenters talked about caregivers who were exceptional, who took the time to really “be” with the patient and their family.  Many of these caregivers were were cited as “heroes”.  This reminded me of my Mom, who was a nurse.  That’s her in the photo below.

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I wrote about her in a blog post a few years ago.   She died too young, and I’m pretty sure that working in the healthcare system was a major contributing cause to that.  I think she worked herself to death.  Lots of caregivers experience this, including those who were featured at the Cleveland Summit.  They deal with workarounds, heroic efforts, and hard work.  They battle crazy systems and bureaucracies (hair balls) in order to try to do what is right.  It becomes their way of life, “it is what it is”.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  We can do better and we can design better systems that allow people to take joy in their work and deliver value to the patient.  I wrote about this a few weeks ago.  We have a new book that outlines what it means to go “beyond heroism”.  You can learn more about this and meet the author (Kim Barnas) by coming to the 5th Annual Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit.  You can go to this link to watch and listen to a recording of a webinar featuring Kim.  We have 43 seats available for our Summit.  I hope you will be in one of them.