Hint: Continuous Improvement Software Makes it Possible
Creating a unified culture of continuous improvement, rolling out new software to help capture that improvement, measuring that improvement, and sharing knowledge to maximize improvement; it all sounds like a huge job, doesn’t it? You might be mentally reviewing the resources your organization has and thinking that despite the amazing impact it could have both in the short and long term, you just don’t have the employee time or means to pull it off right now. Luckily, spreading continuous improvement culture with limited resources is easier than you might think.
Dr. Tania Lyon, Director of Organizational Performance Improvement for St. Clair Hospital knows about fostering a culture of improvement and deploying continuous improvement software with limited resources. Dr. Lyon recently hosted a KaiNexus webinar alongside Mark Graban, KaiNexus Vice-President of Improvement & Innovation Services and founder of LeanBlog.org. In that KaiNexus webinar, available here, she outlined how her small department of just two part-time staff managed to roll-out continuous improvement software to an organization of over 550 physicians and 2,400 employees, experiencing success all along the way.
One of the first strategies Dr. Lyon used to maximize her time and resources was to create a pilot for KaiNexus implementation. Dr. Lyon chose the hospital’s pharmacy as her pilot location as it had shown high engagement with paper employee idea boards her department had circulated prior to making the inevitable move to continuous improvement software, which is discussed in detail in the webinar.
“We learned the system with them and through them. And they were great, they accepted it with gusto,” she said. “We’ figured out the steps that we would want to take, and in what order, and how communication plans should work, and we developed a checklist that we now follow with every single department as we roll-out.”
Slow and Steady Roll-Out
Using this standardized checklist, Dr. Lyon’s team began a slow and steady roll-out of KaiNexus, working department-by-department, and taking the time to foster improvement culture along the way.
“This has a lot to do with the fact that we have so few resources to support KaiNexus, and so we wanted to make sure we did it right,” Dr. Lyon said. “But secondly is our belief that this is more than just a technical tool, it’s not just about showing people the technical knowledge on how to log into KaiNexus and share an idea, it was really an opportunity to go through our organization and really evaluate where the culture is in each department, and give the culture of continuous improvement a boost. It was our opportunity to sit down one-on-one with each manager and talk about their goals and their role as a manager in fostering a culture of continuous improvement in their areas of influence.”
Use KaiNexus for Existing Work
Dr. Lyon planned a two-year implementation schedule for KaiNexus, but this plan was accelerated thanks to her decision to also use KaiNexus for existing work in addition to the department-by-department roll-out.
Dr. Lyon integrated already required Performance Improvement (PI) Plans into KaiNexus across the leadership team. This decision was made because continuous improvement software made it so much easier to be consistent across all departments and encouraged management to use the document from the start of the project. Rather than filling out the document as a stiff report at the end of a project, managers are now able to use it as a guide and worksheet to help them along the way.
Engaging the leadership team in this way, and allowing them to become familiar with KaiNexus, instead of introducing it as an additional task, allowed continuous improvement software to become something they could see value in and the management unexpectedly turned into advocates for it.
Engage Your Chain of Command
Aside from gaining support for KaiNexus organically from use, Dr. Lyon also actively sought to engage the chain of command in the hospital.
In order to use the time of Dr. Lyon’s department wisely, and also because of how exceptionally hard it is to pull staff from their usual tasks in a hospital, very little engagement was done with frontline staff during roll-out. One item on the standardized checklist developed in the pilot stage was to visit staff meetings and spend roughly 10 minutes giving a quick demonstration of the most important steps in staff use of KaiNexus – logging in and creating a posting – but that is all the training Dr. Lyon’s team does with frontline staff at this time. The bulk of their efforts is spent with the management team giving them one-on-one time and half-hour trainings to make sure they are well-versed in KaiNexus.
“We have over 100 members of our management team who are going to be location leaders in KaiNexus.” Dr. Lyon explained. “We want them to be the real owners and the real champions of KaiNexus, so we’re constantly trying to show them how KaiNexus can actually support them: it will make their evaluations of their employees easier; the documentation will already be done for a lot of the work that their employees do, and it will help make them a little more objective; it will help them show their boss the total impact of all of the work that the department has done; and so on and so forth.”
Dr. Lyon’s team also engages directors, both to hold their managers accountable and to act to as a support for managers when they have trouble keeping up with workload.
Enjoy the Success
Using some of the reporting she now has available through KaiNexus, Dr. Lyon is able to see—and report—that KaiNexus culture is maturing year-to-year at St. Clair.
Dr. Lyon’s team is now able to enjoy transparency across the organization. Staff from all departments now have access to information and ideas from other departments, so what used to be siloed is now visible to all hospital staff. For Dr. Lyon’s small department of two part-time staff, this means they are now able to monitor progress in every department and target her limited resources to where it is needed most.
In line with this transparency, the hospital now enjoys collaboration enabled by continuous improvement software. All departments can now establish connections and flow with other departments easily.
Finally, Dr. Lyon and her team are now able to capture important metrics to measure improvements and improvement culture. Improvement metrics are now even a part of St. Clair Hospital’s organizational goals and have been increased each year during the roll-out, which proves that it is possible to spread continuous improvement with limited resources.