The Human Side of Lean Teams

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Abstract

Organizations use lean principles to increase quality and decrease costs. Lean projects require an understanding of systems-wide processes and utilize interdisciplinary teams. Most lean tools are straightforward, and the biggest barrier to successful implementation is often development of the team aspect of the lean approach. The purpose of this article is to share challenges experienced by a lean team charged with improving a hospital discharge process. Reflection on the experience provides an opportunity to highlight lessons from The Team Handbook by Peter Scholtes and colleagues. To improve the likelihood that process improvement initiatives, including lean projects, will be successful, organizations should consider providing training in organizational change principles and team building. The authors' lean team learned these lessons the hard way. Despite the challenges, the team successfully implemented changes throughout the organization that have had a positive impact. Training to understand the psychology of change might have decreased the resistance faced in implementing these changes.

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