What should our leaders be doing every day to continually improve Saskatoon Health Region?

That was the focus of a leader’s workshop held September 8, the first of its kind in the Region.

The Leader Standard Work workshop attracted a roomful of managers and directors from Rehabilitation Neurosciences and Geratrics, Housekeeping, People and Partnerships, and Facilities Management. The directors of these departments volunteered to take part in this first workshop after seeing Leader Standard Work in practice in other parts of North America.

“They saw it as a transformation tool that would make a difference in how we lead,” said Tammy Vornbrock, Kaizen Fellow with Saskatoon Health Region.

Leaders from Saskatoon Health Region discuss their work around a table.

Directors and managers from a number of Saskatoon Health Region departments gathered to learn about Leader Standard Work at a workshop on Sept. 8.

Standard work is a set of specific instructions that allow processes to be completed in a consistent, timely and repeatable manner. It is a simple written description of the safest, highest-quality, and most efficient way known to perform a particular process or task.

Creating Leader Standard Work will change how we respond to problems, how we think about patients, and how we interact with each other.

“Our purpose is to help leaders develop their own leader standard work which will help them proactively run the day,” said Vornbrock. “We can develop this leader standard work to include three critical elements our Senior Leadership Team said all leaders should focus on: ‘Grow Your People, Improve Your Processes, and Know Your Business’.”

Developing leader standard work will allow those leaders time to focus on self-development, as well as developing, coaching and teaching staff.

It’s been a two-year journey to get to the point of creating Standard Work for our leaders, noted Vornbrock. For the first few years of implementing Lean into the Saskatoon Health Region, the focus was on learning and applying the tools and methodology of Lean such as the Rapid Improvement Workshop to improve processes.

The American health care team, ThedaCare, is being used as an example in this training.

ThedaCare is a healthcare organization that is eight years ahead of Saskatoon Health Region in their Lean journey and they validated that focusing on the tools, making improvements and stabilizing process is the place to start. Then, creating leader standard work to support and sustain those changes is the next step.

“The next stage of our journey involves Lean tools working together with Leader Standard Work to deliver improvement and transform our culture,” Vornbrock stated.

“We are learning from ThedaCare’s experience, and how changing the expectations of what leaders actually do each day, pushes the roots of Lean deeper into the organization and encourages new ways of thinking and new behaviours,” said Vornbrock. “ThedaCare discovered that changing a leader’s work content changed the leader as well and this is the best practice we’ve developed the workshop around.”

Leaders at the workshop were given tips on how to tweak daily department huddles to make them more interactive and involve employees through the use of everyday Lean ideas and an improvement board. In addition, the groups created a daily status sheet with thought-provoking, open-ended questions that will help them anticipate challenges in the day and reduce the amount of time spent putting out fires. They were also encouraged to create a “no-meeting zone” from 8 to 10 a.m. each day to hold their scheduled huddles, involve employees through the Daily Status Sheet and be available to employees. Leaders are encouraged to carry their leader standard work, and show employees they are using it every day, as role models for their departments.