Lean Transformations Require CEO Transformations

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- To sustain lean transformations, CEOs must participate in workplace improvement teams to demonstrate personal commitment to the change effort, according to John Toussaint, MD, CEO of the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value and CEO emeritus of ThedaCare.

Toussaint is co-author of the new book On the Mend: Revolutionizing Healthcare to Save Lives and Transform the Industry (Lean Enterprise Institute, June 2010), describing ThedaCare’s continuing lean transformation.

During a July 27 interview with Lean Nation, he described the positive impact of participating in an early continuous improvement workshop in a hospital obstetrics unit. (Listen at: http://www.790thescore.com/Article.asp?id=1892350&spid=35652)

The cross-functional workshop team was “flabbergasted that the CEO was there moving baby warmers around” to improve the layout of the unit, Toussaint recalled. The involvement sent a strong message that he was committed to the lean objective of creating a learning culture in which everyone continuously identifies and solves problems.

Toussaint also discussed

  • How to remodel leadership behaviors to support continuous improvement.
  • How to involve patients in the improvement process.
  • How to engage staff and doctors.
  • How to change healthcare’s “shame and blame” culture.
  • The state of U.S. healthcare and healthcare reform.
  • How lean principles can improve the quality of healthcare delivery while lowering costs.

“We have to fundamentally redesign healthcare delivery in the U.S.,” Toussaint said. “The cost increases are unsustainable.”

ThedaCare, a four-hospital healthcare system in Wisconsin, slashed errors, improved patient outcomes, raised staff morale, and saved $27 million dollars without layoffs since Toussaint launched its lean transformation in 2002. The continuing transformation is detailed in On the Mend, which describes the lean tools ThedaCare used but more importantly how it changed senior leadership thinking and behaviors.

Lean Enterprise Institute

Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc., was founded in 1997 by management expert James P. Womack, Ph.D., as a nonprofit research, education, publishing, and conference company with a mission to advance lean thinking around the world. Learn more at http://www.lean.org

ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value

The ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value is a not-for profit with a mission to change care delivery and payment incentives to reward the best performers on quality and cost and to build and facilitate learning networks of healthcare providers. Learn more at: http://www.createhealthcarevalue.com/


Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc.
Chet Marchwinski, 617-871-2930
[email protected]

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  Massachusetts

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Practice Management  Health  Hospitals  Other Health  General Health  Managed Care