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INTRODUCTION

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The most familiar path is always the status quo. Turnaround leaders must convince people that the organization is truly on its deathbed.

—CHIP AND DAN HEATH

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The idea of being able to truly transform the culture within a hospital may sound like a daunting, if not impossible, task. But achieving a genuine cultural transformation in healthcare could be the key to solving some of the most basic and difficult problems facing the industry today.

—GREG STOCK, THIBODAUX REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER

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Most implementations of Lean Six Sigma emphasize knowledge and training first without building sufficient awareness and desire for it. The same is true of any Lean Six Sigma project. Successful implementation requires:

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  • Communication will be essential to adoption of the change. Communications must answer the questions Why? Why now? What happens if we don't change? WIIFM? This can take the form of town halls, team meetings, memos, and one-to-one communication, training and coaching.

  • Sponsorship will be essential to adoption. No support, no change.

  • Coaching will be essential to developing the abilities that ensure adoption.

  • Change management is a key tool in implementing Lean Six Sigma and any improvement project. Having this simple recipe in mind when you embark on such a change will go a long way toward ensuring success.

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The essential methods and tools of Lean Six Sigma described in this book are easy to learn and use, but implementing Lean Six Sigma can be difficult. Over half of all implementations fail within three years. This is a 1-sigma failure rate. If all you needed to do is teach everyone the methods and tools, implementation would be easy. Getting people to adopt the methods and tools is often the hardest part. There are ways, however, to ensure that the methods and tools take root and grow. Unfortunately, implementing Lean Six Sigma successfully requires an approach that runs counter to all the so-called advice available in the literature.

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WIIFM

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You've probably heard the acronym WIIFM—What's in it for me? It's the question everyone asks themselves when faced with any decision. Marketers constantly focus on defining the benefits of their product or service to answer this question.

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I recently discovered that there's a much more insidious attitude I've labeled IWWFM—It won't work for me. Ask any teenager to try something new, and the answer invariably will be, "It won't work for me." But it's not just teens; it is people in business, any kind of business. Ask people to learn Lean Six Sigma (or anything else for that matter), and the answer is often, "It won't work for me."

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EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES

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We have absolutely outlawed the phrase and the concept of, "This is the way we've always done it." In my view, this is the most dangerous phrase in medical practice. Humans ...

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