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How to Identify Opportunities for Improvement

Mark Graban
VP of Customer Success at KaiNexus

In this video, Mark says:

Hi, I'm Mark Graban from KaiNexus. I'm going to talk today about some ideas that will help you identify opportunities for improvement in your workplace.

The first step in improvement is to identify problems - to identify opportunities for improvement. One important way we do that is by simply asking people (our employees, our patients, our customers, the people who do the work) "What bugs you? What gets in the way? What interferes with providing the best possible service?" And when we ask, leaders have to make sure that we've created an environment where it's safe for people to point out problems. We want to make it safe for people to speak up instead of hiding or looking the other way when problems occur. So we can ask people to point out what bugs them, and all of the little opportunities for improvement add up to make a big difference. We don't need to ask people to come up with big huge projects, or an individual idea that saves a million dollars. We want to help get the ball rolling. Asking people for their ideas and having a good environment that allows them to speak up is key. 

Once we've exhausted all the things people naturally come up with, we want to observe people doing the work (and of course, we want to continue asking, too). This can be peer-to-peer, by a supportive manager, or an internal improvement coach. I find that it works really well when it's peer-to-peer because it's less threatening that way. When you teach people to identify waste, you use basic Lean principles to help people see problems they wouldn't see otherwise. We see somebody struggling with something like having to bend down under a desk to plug in a computer. That's an opportunity for improvement. We can see a circulating nurse running in and out of the operating room constantly. That's an opportunity for improvement. They might have accepted that as just the normal way things work, and sometimes a separate set of eyes from an observer can point that out.

So we want to ask people, we can observe, and we can try to tie things to the organization's goals and objectives. Instead of asking broadly "What bugs you," we can ask people questions about safety, quality, customer service, cost - "What are things that we can do to improve each of those areas?" Those are all opportunities for improvement.

I wish you great success in identifying those ideas and using KaiNexus to put solutions in place and document what's been done. 


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