Mr. Potatohead meets the Secretary!!!

Last week the other entrepreneurs and I had the opportunity to brief Secretary Sebelius on our progress.  I normally don’t get ultra nervous before speaking, after years of teaching, but this time it was a little different.  I am guessing that most of you have had some sort of performance anxiety when it comes to public speaking.  Mine usually manifests into a red face and a shaky voice, good thing I put on extra deodorant. We had 5 min to present and then 5 min of questions from the Secretary.  I was most nervous as to how we could summarize and give a good picture of what we are doing in this small amount of time. When the Secretary entered the room she walked around doing personalized introductions, it was quite surprising and nice.  As the other entrepreneurs presented I was surprised by the interaction and engagement the Secretary provided.  She really knew all of the subject matter well and was very motivating in how she responded to the projects.  By the time my group was ready to go I became a lot more comfortable and lost my red glow.  Thank god we were last!   We presented our results thus far along with future plans to really integrate the lean culture into CMS and ONC in hopes to infiltrate all of HHS and possibly the rest of the federal government.  That being said, we re-iterated the importance of having senior leadership support to empower the employees and make lean a priority.  If you don’t have this, lean will definitely become the flavor of the month.  I find that this is one of the questions/challenges I get every time that I start to teach lean to a new group.  The Secretary gave us good feedback and even called me by my first name which I didn’t even notice until my colleague pointed it out.  How cool is that? As far as the details of our results that we presented out on, they were not only from the Kaizen but also from standardizing business processes that are totally within the control of the first line managers.  Some of our recent successes that came out of the Kaizen include developing a measure within 3 months versus the recent process which took anywhere from 1-5 years depending on the type of measure.  We reduced the contracting process from 6-8 weeks down to 2 weeks. The list goes on but these are just a few of the many successes that continue to come from the Kaizen groups.  In one of our business process improvement value streams we looked at how we track issues with our Meaningful Use measures.  After we removed as much waste as we could in the first future state we saved approximately 37.7 weeks of one full time employees time, issue resolution went from an average of 2 months down to around 1 week, we had great feedback from those reporting the issues and also gave better transparency, ownership and collaboration.  We are continuing to do these smaller scoped business processes in parallel with the large Kaizen events.  The big challenge is now to keep the culture change moving and build the sustaining model.  This will be the most difficult part of our journey.  I have faith that with the senior leader’s engagement, the internal lean experts driving the processes, and the employee’s motivation that this will be a huge success.