Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Customer-Supplier Meetings

“Your methods are formed by what you are trying to do; they do not determine your purpose. To my mind it is starting wrong to put methods ahead of purpose.”     -Henry Ford

The purpose of this management model is employee empowerment to effect continuous process improvement where the work takes place and defective work is encountered. This includes includes empowering employees to call for a customer-supplier meeting as a means of actively increasing communication and initiating the process for implementing change for improvement. Because of the complicated nature of serial, parallel and, at times, disconnected processes contributed by numerous highly trained individuals in healthcare, it is often difficult for employees to comprehend the magnitude and the downstream effects of their own work, especially if not done to a standard specification, if that even exists. To compound this problem, we have inherited a culture of change of top-down directives that address crisis issues, so called 'crisis management'. 

Customer-supplier meetings involving empowered teams are designed to allow workers to gain a detailed sense of the work product or service that each section requires to function more efficiently as that product or service is passed from one workstation to the next. This fosters management in a horizontal fashion along the path of workflow. 

Discussions involve highly specified requirements to aid in the direct hand-offs between customers and suppliers so that the main types of waste in processes can be eliminated. Barriers between work stations and professional groups can be more readily eliminated when people recognize that issues between workstations are universal and fixable and the typical finger-pointing 'blame-game' can be stopped now that they are empowered to remedy the situation. 

Eventually, "suppliers" understand and accept the demands of their "internal customers" and begin responding by changing processes to meet customer requirements. With this new understanding of team, eventually the culture begins to change.

These structures described in this and previous posts are needed to prepare people to work together, to form healthy work relationships from a vantage point of understanding other's requirements, to communicate freely and effectively in a blame-free environment in order to be fully engaged, daily, in a common goal of excellence. This, in turn, can foster workers' sense of pride and accomplishment in contributing, no matter how small, to the success of the enterprise.

Did someone say Employee Engagement and Satisfaction


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