The Blue Cottage Blog

WiHL Workshop Series Wrap-Up

by on May 4, 2015

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Blue Cottage team members recently had the opportunity to share some of the latest tools and best practices used by healthcare consultants with the University of Michigan Women in Healthcare Leadership (WiHL) organization. The three-part workshop series focused on how the following tools spark conversation, lead to idea generation, develop perspective and point of view, and are easy to understand and use:

  1. Fishbone Diagrams
  2. A3 Summaries
  3. Process Mapping

Fishbone Diagrams

The workshop series kicked off with Kelly A. Saran presenting an interactive introduction to the many uses of the “Fishbone Diagram” (aka “Ishikawa Diagram”), a process improvement tool developed in 1943 by Kauro Ishikawa.

The group reviewed ways in which the tool still holds up as a classic, quick, simple and effective method to identify root causes to a process imperfections when not a lot of quantitative data exist. Kelly hit on the ways the tool can change the way people can work by aspiring to continuous improvement; sustain change with constant leadership support; bring different departments/disciplines together and build trust; applicable to any problem, even on a napkin in a restaurant with a few friends.

The WiHL group quickly generated many possible contributing factors to a process problem most people can relate to – long lines at the grocery store. Kelly shared with the group ways students can apply many of the same principles to other areas in healthcare including patient throughput, lab specimen processing, and patient safety issues.

As a best practice for ensuring that results are accurate, the group talked about the importance of having the right people in the room who do the actual work in order to capture how they view the problem from multiple perspectives.

A3 Process

Amanda Borgsdorf presented the basics of the A3 process and the elements that comprise the tool with an emphasis on the problem solving methodology. The group did a paper airplane exercise that led to the use of A3 Summary templates to document as they went through the process steps and problem solved.

The paper airplane exercise allowed the group to focus on the process steps and not focus so much on the content and figuring it out and getting the ‘right answer’ for healthcare.

The A3, in the form of the document itself, provides a tool that facilitates succinct delivery of information. However, the ultimate goal is application of a problem solving methodology that facilitates working through a problem completely, not jumping to conclusions, determining solutions to fix problems at root cause(s), and verifying that solutions solved the problem.

Process Mapping

Stephanie Ebert shared the basic principles of process mapping and how the tool can be used to flush out and document the activities, people, and systems that must be in place to accomplish a given process.

To engage the students, Stephanie suggested creating a process flow diagram on a topic in which they were the subject matter experts: registering for new classes before the beginning of a semester. As they walked through the steps, the process discussed was similar to what many Blue Cottage UHMS grads can relate to (Go Blue!).

The group explored different types of applications that process flow diagrams can be used for including examples of work Stephanie has done that included current versus future state processes for a move to new physical space, existing process steps that may have been impacted by changing healthcare reform legislation, and global sales delivery processes that identified IT systems and geographic location of supporting work.

Similar to the Fishbone Diagram workshop session, the group talked about how it is also very important to have the right people in the room to document a process flow diagram. It is best to work with the people who actually perform the process steps so that you get accurate, detailed information.

The students were an enthusiastic group that asked intelligent questions throughout the session – they even took over creating the tools themselves! These sessions provide WiHL with valuable exposure to practical tools, which they do not otherwise receive as part of their particular programs.

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