The infamous words, “It’s dangerous to go alone…” from The Legend of Zelda still echo in my head from my childhood playing way too much Nintendo (as compared to my adulthood playing way too much Nintendo). Now as I study and apply the tools of performance improvement and systems engineering in hospitals, the phrase has a whole new meaning to me.
It is not uncommon to find hospitals starting lean/Six Sigma/performance improvement programs. The SHS Career Board identifies new jobs for improvement professionals across the country every day. The SHS academic and student committee has generated a list of schools that are creating a whole workforce of subject matter experts (including my alma mater Binghamton University, which regularly has attendees at the SHS conference).
But just as beating games required more than just [virtual] tools, hiring performance improvement specialists for your hospital/health system (no matter how many tools they have), is not enough to beat the evil forces of waste and variability in a health system. There are so many complex interactions in healthcare, both human and process driven. Hospitals trying to figure it all out in a bubble seem doomed to failure. Even the greatest lean health systems like ThedaCare included networking and reaching out to other health systems (and other industries) as a key part of their lean journey, now they have created the Healthcare Value Network.
Indeed, the most advanced practitioners of performance improvement know that it IS dangerous to go alone. That’s why I am a regular attendee at the SHS performance improvement conference as well as an active participant in SHS ongoing activities. The amount you can learn from the experience of others in a single weekend is staggering. Amazing keynote speakers, regular opportunities for networking, and sessions lead by thought leaders in the performance improvement industry are staples of the SHS performance improvement conference. The attendees are a perfect mix of seasoned professionals, deep thinking academics, energetic early career professionals and eager students.