Defects, Mistakes and Errors
At the Institute for Healthcare Improvement conference in Orlando last December, one of the presentations covered the application of the Toyota Production System (TPS) to a hospital. The presenter opened by saying that healthcare, in general, was a "poor quality product that cost too much for the value delivered." I was immediately struck by the guts it took to make that statement. The presenter went on to repeat that thought many times throughout the presentation. I doubt that many people caught it.
The reason for his comments? The 1999 study that found that as many as 100,000 people a year die due to preventable medical mistakes in American hospitals.
One of the biggest challenges to Lean Six Sigma is not the use of the methods or tools, but creating a mindset that loves to find and fix defects and delays. Not everyone thinks of these issues under the banner that I call defects and delays. So I got into the Synonym Finder to look for other words that mean the same thing. It's amazing how many words exist in the English language to describe mistakes and errors. Here are just a few:
|blunder||flaw||off the beam|
If you continue and look at words that describe how people make these mistakes, you'll find another group of words dedicated to describing the activities that lead to poor quality products and services.
Here's my point:
Until you're willing to stop congratulating yourself for what's working and start looking at the misses, mistakes, errors, omissions, defects and delay that are irritating customers, demotivating employees, and devouring your profit margins, all of the Lean Six Sigma methods and tools will not help you.
Once you view every mistake as an opportunity to mistake-proof and improve the delivery of your product or service, you'll get hooked on Lean Six Sigma. Until then, the methods and tools will just be another burden in an already crisis-managed world.
Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, (888) 468-1537, firstname.lastname@example.org."