Teams involved in Saskatoon Health Region’s Better Every Day 14 Day Challenge told the story of the success achieved, problems they tackled, challenges they faced, and the strides they made during those two weeks at a report-out at Saskatoon City Hospital February 24.

The report-out is a typical part of a Lean process – team members describe what they focused on, what they measured at the beginning of the process, what they changed, and how the measurements changed as a result of the modifications that were implemented.

“It’s an opportunity to talk about the work that has been done, and what’s ongoing, so the entire organization is aware of what the problem was, how it was addressed, the current outcome, and what’s going to happen next,” explained Kerri Cryderman, director of the Kaizen Promotion Office for Saskatoon Health Region. “A report-out is a way to highlight the continuous improvements that are going on throughout our Region, and celebrate the work that has been done.”

The report-out is not the end of the process – it’s more of a beginning. There are always next steps to be taken, more avenues to explore. And that will be part of the 90 day cycles of breakthrough strategies, the first of which begins March 2.

But before the next 90 day cycle, or hoshin, is officially underway, Dan Florizone, Region president and CEO, announced a period of “catchball” within the Region to provide feedback to leadership about the proposed activities and targets.

The name catchball stems from a Japanese game that involves throwing a baseball back and forth. Within Kaizen, or continuous improvement systems, catchball involves a back and forth process with ideas,  essentially bouncing both ideas and feedback from leadership to the front lines and back again.  The process tends to open up new lines of communication within the organization, improving everyone’s knowledge about what goes on here. It also forges new relationships, and engages everyone in the process.

“It’s a mechanism to get our voices heard,” Cryderman explained.

Catchball can be a formal feedback process, or be as informal as managers asking questions at daily huddles, then driving answers and ideas from staff back up to senior leadership.

Catchball is part of what happens after a hoshin has been initially formulated.

What exactly is a hoshin? It’s an approach to planning that involves identifying a common vision, setting and tracking both long- and short-term goals, and being prepared to change course as required.  A hoshin at its most basic is meant to get all employees at all levels pulling in the same direction, focusing on fixing a specific area in a set amount of time to make measureable progress. A hoshin is devoted to an item where a breakthrough strategic process is required.

The catchball sessions for the first 90 day hoshin will begin shortly.