By Michael Hughes
Wary of plans gone awry
For much of my life, plan has been a four-letter word.
Perhaps that’s why bartending and newspapering held such a fascinating pull during earlier years. Much of their activity consists of operations – serve the drinks, clean the glasses, go to the court hearing, write and edit stories, design the pages.
I just never really cottoned to the responsibility that comes with power, essentially deciding the lives of everybody else, scheduling when work would get done, who would be where and what would go in the next edition – other than the requisite breaking news and tragedy of the day. And plans always seemed to go awry. After all, according to 19th century Prussian military strategist Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, “No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main strength.”
But eventually, planning always crept in. When promotions came, you had to assign stories, schedule reporters, set deadlines and make provisions for investigative and feature pieces. Even head bartenders must manage the cellar and order supplies.
So count me duly impressed with this month’s cover story, “Care Compression,” which starts on Page 26. Cynthia L. Seaver describes the team effort required to plan and consolidate three hospital laboratories into one new building. During a five-year span, Spectrum Health’s steering committee used A3 thinking to analyze what it had on hand and where it wanted to go and developed the plans and processes to get there.
During the endeavor, moves by Spectrum Health added another three medical labs to the mix. But when you make good planning essential, plans can adapt.
Seaver’s team had an incisive planning process that involved all key stakeholders and allowed for repeated feedback. Although volume has grown, the new lab’s productivity has increased by 9 percent, a solid performance.
Planning is one key industrial engineering attribute that has yet to saturate my soul. But I’m getting better. More stories similar to Seaver’s definitely help. How about you?
Michael Hughes is managing editor of IIE. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (770) 349-1110.