You might have heard about new video streaming technologies like Periscope and Meerkat, that allow anybody to use a phone to broadcast live to the world. Maybe you've played around with these technologies and maybe you've even found a way to integrate them into your business. Why do these technologies remind me of KaiNexus and our customers? Read on...
Before joining the KaiNexus team, I was involved with the Healthcare Value Network for two years, as an employee of the Lean Enterprise Institute from 2009 to 2011, working in close partnership with the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value.
One of our learning activities for members was the chance to do site visits, or "gemba visits," to member organizations. Because travel costs often prevented members from traveling or sending too many people, I suggested that we utilize emerging video streaming technology to broadcast portions of the visit on our private member website. That would open up the learning to many more people, furthering one of the main goals of the Network.
Back in late 2009, this is the gear that we thought was required to pull this off well:
We used a platform called UStream, or at least a private corporate version of it that could keep the broadcast private. To run this platform required a laptop computer (pictured on the stool).
To ensure the best video and sound quality, we packed up a somewhat sophisticated (and large!) video camera with wireless microphones, a tripod, and such. The setup required us to ship a large case from Boston to Seattle! This wasn't easy to do, but we wanted to experiment. This required thousands of dollars of equipment and hundreds to ship it back and forth.
We practiced how to use the technology. I developed a checklist and procedure (you can see the paper on the stool on top of my black MacBook). I was confident about how that would work.
As we got ready to go live with the video, my MacBook crashed -- literally two or three minutes before we started. I rebooted the Mac, but then the streaming software couldn't recognize the attached hardware. The video streaming was a complete failure!
Egg on my face.
It turns out I should have used a Windows laptop, as the streaming platform was more stable on Windows... I should have used my LEI-issued HP laptop instead of my personal MacBook.
I also failed to prepare a backup computer to try in the event of a failure. The whole setup had seemed rock solid during our prep and practice sessions.
So there are lessons learned about the risks of using new technology and lessons about preparation and backup plans.
But, I've been thinking about that 2009-era streaming setup the past few months as new video streaming platforms like Periscope (owned by Twitter) and Meerkat gain buzz.
What technology is required for streaming today, in 2015? An iPhone or Android device!
A few hundreds of dollars instead of thousands. A small light device that's not tethered to a conference room and a tripod. The streaming services are free (although it might be harder to keep private). These new technologies aren't just cheaper, they open up new possibilities for sharing video from anywhere in the hospital for these gemba visits (keeping patient confidentiality and privacy in mind, of course).
I see a parallel to KaiNexus. There are some hospitals and health systems that were making great strides with Kaizen and continuous improvement in the 2009 timeframe. As these organizations and leaders discovered some of the problems that we now solve, they couldn't find a rock solid technology on the market. KaiNexus didn't exist yet.
So, some of those customers saw the vision, like I did. I had a vision of sharing knowledge through video streaming. Some health systems saw the vision of sharing opportunities for improvement electronically across shifts, across departments, and across sites. Some cobbled together or built technologies using databases, Sharepoint, or other approaches. This was often the equivalent of my clunky streaming setup. Sure, it worked... but was it ideal? Was it more costly than it needed to be? They did the best they could, as I did... but I made mistakes, as did some of these health systems.
Enter KaiNexus. Instead of building your own continuous improvement software platform by piecing together different technologies yourself (laptop, camera, microphone, different software packages), KaiNexus gives you something that's almost as easy to use at Periscope and Meerkat. Inexpensive, standardized, solid technology that allows you to fulfill your vision.
Now, what about those organizations that don't yet have the vision? That's a topic for a different post...