CRC - Value Stream Mapping for Healthcare Made Easy

Organization: CRC
Publication Date: 26 August 2009
Page Count: 136


My experience with value stream mapping (VSM) for healthcare resulted from a very fortunate opportunity provided by the National Science Foundation in 2000. Through a grant awarded to Montana State University (MSU) (NSF grant 0115352, Applying the principles of the Toyota Production System to healthcare, 2000-2002), coinvestigated by myself and Dr. Durward Sobek, a professor at the engineering school at MSU, I was funded for 3 years to explore the possibility of using concepts and practices of the Toyota Production System (TPS) in a healthcare setting. It was a goal from the outset to apply these principles and methods in every department of the host healthcare organization. To attempt to do this, the application needed to be easy to learn, easy to teach, and relevant to all kinds of work. These requirements, coupled with Dr. Sobek's studies and personal experience at Toyota, led our exploration to the then-emerging work of Steven Spear.

At the conclusion of research for his doctoral work in 1999, Harvard PhD candidate Steven Spear, with Harvard Business School professor Kent Bowen, described the concepts of "ideal" and the "four rules in use." [The concept of ideal is originally credited to Dr. Russell L. Ackoff in T. Lee and T. Woll, "Reflections on the Idealized Design Planning Process," CQM Journal 11, no. 2 (2003).] In their landmark paper, "Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System" [S. Spear and H. Kent Bowen, Harvard Business Review, September- October (1999), pp. 97-106], they concluded that these simple concepts and rules were the fundamental drivers of the Toyota culture of work. While simple in concept, the consistent practice of ideal and the four rules is applicable to any business model, especially healthcare.