Ken Segel, Value Capture CEO, will present a Shingo Institute webinar, "Use Your Crisis Muscles to Accelerate Your Operational Excellence Journey," on November 30.

As a preview of that webinar, he also published a blog post for the Shingo Institute. Here are just a few key points of Ken’s post, "Leveraging Your Crisis Muscles With the Shingo Guiding Principles."

You can learn more and register for the November 30 webinar.

COVID and Health System Crisis Operations

“At several periods during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during successive waves of rising infection rates, organizations in many sectors have gone into crisis operations mode to get through. For many, their crisis operations structure addressed not only the needs made urgent by the crisis but also exposed the profound unmet needs and major gaps in their normal operating structure.

Astute leaders are recognizing that the crisis has revealed the potential for greater levels of excellence in their organizations than existed before the pandemic.

Leaders can begin to move toward that path of 'sustainably better than before COVID” by converting the most important elements of their crisis management structure, processes, and behaviors into a sustainable standard operating structure, with improvements. The Shingo Guiding Principles offer a powerful framework to help leaders accomplish this.

I will use two specific examples from the healthcare industry, which I am most familiar with. To do so, I am going to:

  • Give an example of “crisis operations”
  • Talk about what profound need or gap the example met for the people of an organization and their customers not only for the COVID crisis but prior, and
  • Tie it to a particular Shingo Guiding Principle and explain how it can be applied to embed the right behaviors in the organization to capture those profound results in a sustainable way.”

Example of the Shingo Guiding Principle “Create Value for the Customer”

“Setting up telehealth platforms, so that doctors and patients could interact over video, became a priority. And most organizations, who had dabbled and struggled in prior years to get telehealth going, were able to create and deploy fully capable platforms within one or two weeks and were amazed that they could do it that fast.

One of the Shingo Guiding Principles governing here comes from the Enterprise Alignment dimension of the Shingo Model, Create Value for the Customer. This principle dictates that creating customer value should be an anchoring constant drive of any organization that wishes to sustain itself, and certainly to be excellent. What was happening prior to COVID? The truth is that we in healthcare are not usually anchored to creating value for customers.

Looking past COVID, the lesson to learn is that a fundamental role of leaders is to focus organizations on the most important 'big dot' goals rooted in Creating Value for the Customer, and they should encourage aggressive alignment to rapidly achieve them.

Therefore, your Command Center should not go away. Instead, you should transform it to anchor the entire organization so that it is moving in the same direction every day. Evolve it beyond a COVID focus and keep honing relentlessly on the few most critical customer-centered goals for the organization. Then, leverage the essential crisis lesson: the power of full organizational alignment to pursue, advance, and achieve the big dots using the principle Create Value for the Customer (plus other principles described below).

Great organizations tie linked management system huddles for each level of the organization to a Visual Management Center on a daily, weekly, and monthly cadence, weaving together these focused strategy cascades and information flows.”

Example of Guiding Principles "Create Constancy of Purpose," "Seek Perfection," and "Embrace Scientific Thinking"

“Now let’s add a related example to illustrate how multiple Shingo Guiding Principles can and must be woven together to achieve the most powerful results.

The principle Create Constancy of Purpose also falls into the Enterprise Alignment category. Create Constancy of Purpose is defined in the Shingo Model booklet as 'an unwavering understanding of why the organization exists, where it is going, and how it will get there.' It 'enables people to align their actions, as well as to innovate, adapt, and takes risks with greater confidence.'

The COVID pandemic revealed that those organizations who had lived by principles long before the crisis began did the best and are now accelerating past their peers, many of whom are still in great crisis. Following is an illustration.

A chief safety officer and two peers at a large healthcare system began to prepare for COVID, recognizing that they would deal with both great fear and great uncertainly. Accordingly, they established three key principles:

  1. Everyone, including every level of leader in the organization, both medical and operational, has autonomy to take action as long as they follow the principles.
  2. Do not send a caregiver into harm’s way. Zero harm to caregivers is the standard.
  3. Maintain the best care for every patient so long as it can be maintained. The system will decide when protocols must change.

Explicitly tied to these three imperatives was another: when you are at risk of not fulfilling one of these three, get help. This explicit principle-anchored framework was implemented to keep people from freezing or fleeing and helped them to focus instead on the fight. It worked because everyone simultaneously had been given agency to act—a key point—within the guardrails offered by the principles.

This is one of the key powers of harnessing universal principles of excellence so explicitly. They simultaneously guide everyone in a complex organization in very positive, aligned ways, while unleashing every individual’s freedom to act within those guidelines. And, of course, you have to implement.

It’s Time to Improve

As we begin to think post-COVID, what are the lessons that these interconnected principles teach? There is no better way to create the constancy of purpose that we all crave from our organizations than to lead with safety—always—not just in a safety crisis.

Leading with safety as a precondition and seeking perfection as the strongest foundation for your much more dynamic improvement and management systems are the ways to create constancy of purpose. A focus on safety for team members and patients alike will start everyone’s day with what is most important, and it will focus everyone on learning to be excellent at solving the problems that make a fundamental difference to all, scientifically.

Leaders who are committed to safety help to build culture and belief in the organization, a belief many organizations desperately need to rebuild.

To do this effectively, you and the leaders of your organization need to learn the principles and how to build systems that embed the principles in connected ways across the organization. Then you need to practice. Get in the habit of applying them in your organization. To gain this knowledge and capability, start with the foundational and powerful Shingo Workshop series and seek out help and coaching from licensed Shingo Affiliates.

You will find that the COVID crisis has indeed revealed the potential for greater levels of excellence in our organizations, and that the Shingo Guiding Principles offer the most powerful framework to help us in that pursuit.

Value Capture is proud to be a Shingo Affiliate. Learn more about the Shingo Model in our post, "The Shingo Model: A Powerful Framework of Organizational Excellence." If you are interested in learning more about our Shingo workshops, are interested in hosting a workshop, or want to learn more about Value Capture's trusted advisory services, please contact us

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