Friday, September 30, 2011

Defining Work Stations and Teams

The role of leaders is to talk with those who actually do the work and diagram just what these 'work stations' are and what they do. Our definition of 'work stations' in healthcare are semi-autonomous and multi-skilled work teams along the path of workflow that contribute to a task, service or product that is used by or serves another group in the workplace. You are now creating a Work Process Flow Map, understanding what is done so you can create reporting structure for change. The next steps will allow you to understand what is done that adds value, doesn’t add value but is required or what is done that is of no value and can be changed. With more detail about each process in that work station, you are creating a Value Stream Map. The level of detail required to understand wasteful and inefficient processes may include cycle time, set up time, the number people/staff/shifts, the volume/batch size, the defect rate, measures of reliability, and identifiable defects and bottlenecks.

The structure should define work as it is done or contributed to or passed to numerous contributors. How do you get to this point?  Here's a suggestion. Tape a long piece of butcher paper to the wall and begin diagramming the flow of your product or service to follow the patient, or the specimen or the invoice, etc, sequentially, until you are finished with all you can do. That is your workstation. Align and connect these workstations horizontally and identify team leaders and members for each workstation. You may identify inefficiencies of work looping back to the same workstation or forking to two different workstations for no good reason. These are opportunities for workflow redesign.

The identification of a Team Leader, if none already exists, may be accomplished in a number of ways. This includes appointment by ability, by passion or by vote of the work station members. The option to bypass a non-effective Lean team leader with the appointment of a co-leader should be noted as a dysfunctional team is a significant barrier and the role of the team leader is often key to success. For areas with multiple shifts, it is important to have a team leader for the workstation on each shift so that the input and voice of all workers can be channeled for continuous improvements.


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