Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Share the Gain" for Sustaining the Improvement Culture

Spreading Learnings and Coaching Through "Share the Gain"

To showcase the numerous improvements performed by the empowered workers, and to allow them to understand their importance in the organization, it is important to design a reinforcing and sustaining venue for workers to share process improvement lessons with their peers.  

We hold monthly “Share the Gain” meetings as catalysts to set the pace of change that in 2009 after 4 years of Lean cultural transformation resulted in 536 documented process improvements accomplished. By not setting numeric goals, a 110% "improvement on improvement" was seen the following year resulting in an even more astonishing 1,128 process improvements performed in 2010 in the laboratories of Henry Ford Hospital alone. This "Share the Gain" public presentation with reinforcement of method and principle is a continual learning mechanism that has greatly assisted in establishing a change in the culture of work and worker involvement in that change.  

In year 2010, after 5 years of cultural transformation, more than half the "Share the Gain" presentations from Henry Ford Hospital laboratories were given by the workers themselves with the remainder contributed by the team leaders and managers. Two additional community hospital laboratories and an additional 29 outpatient clinic laboratories undertook the cultural Lean management transformation in 2010 resulting in 1392 total process improvements that year. The same pace of process improvements continues in 2011, with 900 accomplished by the 3rd quarter, signifying a stable culture of continuous improvements generated by an empowered workforce of 780 laboratory employees across the Laboratory Service Line.



We have set the pace for change by setting the expectation of one process improvement presented per month per team. These need not be completed improvements but can include progress updates of interventions in-process or even process improvement attempts that failed. These one-hour, monthly meetings showcase 8-10 workstation team presentations. We encourage attendees to participate in question and answer sessions to reinforce the work principles, rules and tools applied. Presenters are ‘shop floor’ workers who are given individual artistic freedom in presentation.  This forum allows the workers to not only share their improvements but to receive praise from their peers and become recognized and rewarded by leadership who attend each meeting. 



In this era of dwindling ability for leaders to provide economic incentives, it should be noted that employees are greatly appreciative of this form of recognition of their ability to contribute to the group's success. As a leader, through this reinforcing mechanism, you are also developing your next generation of leadership and solidifying your new culture.  

A successful Lean culture is predicated on Deming's management style and the value placed on the worker. Through this cultural change mirroring Deming's principles, reinforcing and sustaining structures can effect continuous quality improvements leveraged at all levels by the empowered workforce. The "Share the Gain" process lives out Deming's principle #14, for management to push and sustain this method of work to insure that the pace of improvement is rapid and the processes of work are ever-evolving and optimizing toward a more perfect state.

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