The Lean Doctors Workbook: An Application Guide for Transforming Outpatient Clinic Systems With Lean

Aneesh Suneja and Carolyn Suneja, ASQ Quality Press, 2011, 104 pp., $18 member, $30.00 list (book).

Based on the authors’ previously published book, Lean Doctors: A Bold and Practical Guide to Transforming Healthcare Systems, One Doctor at a Time, this workbook is constructed around six success steps to create a logical flow and gain momentum in a change and improvement process. The book is meant to be interactive and poses many questions for the reader. It assumes there is a burning platform identifying the need for change.

The six steps begin with step one—create physician flow—which is basically value stream mapping of the process. Step two—support physician value-added time—involves identifying and eliminating the physician’s wasted time.

Step three—communicate patient stages visually—focuses on installing the basic visual management system to make it efficient for all staff to be able to check status at a glance and take actions as necessary. Step four—create standard work—lists and explains commonly used tools.

Step five encourages the clinic to lay out the flow for minimal motion, or wasted movement and lost effort and time. Lastly, step six establishes a solid foundation of change and addresses examining the entire value stream system to make major changes to the delivery model.

The book uses a case study to provide context for the six steps. One thing missing from this book is guidance on how to sustain the improvement momentum, but I would recommend this book as a primer for all doctors and healthcare change agents. It is written in common language that is not difficult to understand and offers great tools for implementation.

Bill Baker
Speed to Excellence
Santa Fe, NM

A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams

Yael Zofi, Amacom, 2011, 272 pp., $27.95 (book).

Zofi defines a virtual team as a team comprised of members simultaneously working together for a common purpose while physically apart. This book presents strategies for working through cultural, logistical and communication challenges common in virtual teams and provides action steps for implementation. It is a guide for developing virtual teams, confirming tasks, establishing work procedures, monitoring performance and performing necessary tune-ups.

The book can be used as a manager’s guide for leading in the delivery of quality-as-process and quality-as-result from virtual teams. Readers are alerted to potential problems, and suggestions are offered for overcoming them. The book also can be a reference for anyone committed to delivering quality in a work environment.

The book itself is an example of quality in layout, organization and presentation. Chapter summary charts, worksheets for team leaders and managers, case studies, and insights for virtual teams place this book on the recommended reading list.

With the increasing number of collaborative groups and teams working remotely, this guide serves as a how-to handbook for managers. This resource book will be useful, primarily in the workplace, but it also presents ideas that cooperative organizations and associations could use.

Gerald R. Brong
Ellensburg, WA

Design for Operational Excellence

Kevin J. Duggan, McGraw-Hill, 2011, 304 pp., $35 (book).

This book focuses on providing guidelines that go beyond the traditional notion of incremental continuous improvement to achieve true operational excellence by designing processes from the outset.

The book is divided into four parts. The first part of the book presents the business case behind why the design for operational excellence method is superior to traditional step-by-step continuous improvement strategies.

Part two shows how some companies were able to quickly achieve operational excellence by design by answering a set of nine questions, including why continuous improvement is needed, what is the best way to improve, where are improvements needed, why flow is needed and what success would look like.

Part three discusses how design for operational excellence is done through the use of eight governing principles. Each governing principle introduces a tool or set of tools used to achieve operational excellence. Finally, part four includes successful case studies.

The book is competent in introducing lean methods such as value stream mapping and level loading to the office environment. The notion that companies should ask simple questions such as why a continuous improvement program is needed and what success should look like is also a strength of the book.

But the book spends too much time stating the business case behind why operational excellence by design is needed and not enough detail is provided on how the initial nine design questions and the eight operational excellence principles could be used to improve a process.

There are better books on how to effectively implement lean methods to achieve operational excellence, but overall, this book serves as a good introduction in describing how lean methods could be used to improve business processes. It will be useful to those who want to start that journey.

Brian Cocolicchio
New City, NY

The Basics of Process Mapping

Robert Damelio, CRC Press, 2011, 183 pp., $19.95 (second edition, book).

Damelio updates his practical, accessible book introducing process maps, first published in 1966. This second edition features four new chapters, 75 new process mapping graphics, an introduction to the concepts of flow and waste, a new set of measures for flow and waste, a discussion of problematic features of knowledge work and business processes that act as barriers to flow, and seven principles and 29 guidelines for improving the flow of knowledge work. It also includes a detailed case study that shows how Phil’s Quick Lube applied the principles and guidelines to reduce lead time from an average of 28 days to four days.

Continuing with the original edition, Damelio presents an excellent, basic introduction to process mapping that also integrates knowledge work into the selected maps and applies the concepts and principles outside manufacturing. He explains how relationship maps, cross-functional process maps and flowcharts can be used as a set to provide different views of work.

The use of an exemplary business and how-to guide help connect these ideas for readers and make the work relevant and useful in all types of organizations. Damelio’s work is also a marvelous introduction to process mapping for students, and those still new to the concept and to implementing this tool in organizations.

Dale Farris
Groves, TX

Recent Releases

Gemba Kaizen: A Commonsense Approach to a Continuous Improvement Strategy
Masaaki Imai, McGraw-Hill, 2012, 448 pp., $40 (second edition, book).

Auditing Beyond Compliance: Using the Portable Universal Quality Lean Audit Model
Janet Bautista Smith, ASQ Quality Press, 2012, 112 pp., $19 member, $32 list (book).

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