Welcome to our interview with Dr. John Toussaint. John is the CEO of Catalysis and is one of the foremost figures in the adoption of lean principles in healthcare.
Dr. Toussaint has written three books all of which have received the prestigious Shingo Research and Publication Award. His groundbreaking first book, On the Mend: Revolutionizing Healthcare to Save Lives and Transform the Industry reveals how healthcare can be fundamentally improved at the point of delivery using the proven principles of lean management.
His second book, Potent Medicine: The Collaborative Cure for Healthcare, describes the three core elements necessary to transform healthcare and deliver better value; delivery of care designed around the patient; transparency of treatment quality and cost; and payment for outcomes. His third book, Management on the Mend: The Executive Guide to System Transformation is a study of eleven organizations and the successful attempts to apply lean principles in healthcare.
Welcome John, and thank you for contributing to the questions that are at the heart of Exploring Forward Thinking Workplaces 2.0.
How can we create workplaces where every voice matters, everyone thrives & finds meaning, and change & innovation happen naturally?
John: I think it’s a combination of things. I always go back to John Shook, CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute’s description of how we truly get to excellence, which is it’s about processes, and it’s about people. We have to equally recognize that we need to have an environment in which people are allowed to do work that gives their life meaning, so that’s the people part. The leader’s role is to make sure that the people that work in the organization are allowed to do work that gives their life meaning.
But then we also have to have systems or processes. I like to call them systems in which people can thrive. If there aren’t any systems (or processes) that are standardized and reproducible every day, then people end up doing a lot of non-value added work. If they’re doing non-value added work, this then gets back to this point of they’re not necessarily doing work that gives their life meaning.
I think it’s a combination of these concepts of building systems that allow people to do work that gives their life meaning, and the leader’s role is to make sure that there’s a balance between these two activities.
How do we get an employee’s full attention and best performance?
John: I think there has to be a recognition of why people come to work every day. We’ve been doing a lot of work in our company with something called Strengthsfinder, which focuses on what your strengths are rather than your weaknesses. In the classic performance review that you get once a year, you have all these things you’re supposed to get better at, but nobody really talks about what you’re really good at doing. This concept flips the equation to let us focus on what you’re good at and how can we take what you’re good at and make you even better at it?
From the standpoint of understanding the human dynamics of why and how people work, focusing on your strengths is one way to try to help figure out how you as an employee can best help your organization. We’ve found that to be very helpful because first of all, everybody has different strengths. From a team perspective, you can leverage each team member’s strength if you understand what it is. Then when we put each team member’s strengths together, we can really do some pretty amazing things that we wouldn’t be able to do if it was just one person at a time who has a certain role.
I think it’s very important to tease out where people’s strengths are and how their personality traits can reinforce effective teams by understanding the diversity of who they are and what their strengths are. If we start there, then we can look at what is the work to be done and really try to understand what is the value that’s being created and what every person in the team’s role is to help create that value. That’s how I think we begin to get these high functioning teams.
Now at the same time, we also need to be focusing on the processes of that value creation. We need to understand how to most efficiently and effectively with the highest quality produce that value. We need to understand what the value stream is. We need to understand where the non-value added activity is and try to remove that every day. Then we need to build a system of rapid learning so that as we identify new customer needs, we can “skate to where the puck’s going to be” with either a new value stream or a refurbished value stream to deliver that value that the customer is seeking.
I think it gets back to this balance of let’s make sure we leverage the strengths of the people we have in our organization, which can then make them excited to come to work. But let’s also build the systems to understand how we create the maximum value for the customer that we serve.
Note: This is a preview of the full interview. The complete interview was selected by Apress for publication and continues in The Future of the Workplace.