From Vietnam to Boeing
I walked the halls telling anyone who would listen that just because we had 60 percent market share for commercial airliners didn’t mean we had world-class metrics. It was a tough sell.
Training for 100,000 employees and managers was completed in 24 months—a rate unheard of in a corporation the size of Boeing. From 1994 to 1996, defects in production were reduced 35 percent, and customer complaints dropped accordingly. Where applied, Lean reduced the typical floor space required for operations by 50 percent and cut the amount of inventory kept on hand by 30 to 70 percent (Boeing Company 1997).
Transition to Healthcare
When the team members came back, Joanne had the assignment to design and launch 18 quality improvement courses and seminars that would be attended by more than 34,000 employees.
So, I wasn’t looking for business in healthcare when it came to me on that flight to Atlanta in the fall of 2000. But fate was already playing its hand. My wife, Joanne Poggetti, who had worked with Dr. W. Edwards Deming, had started her own consulting firm while I was still with Boeing. In 1996, she had signed a contract with a healthcare system and started them on the road to Lean, with consultation support from me, after the system’s CEO heard me speak. That October, Poggetti became the first person to take a group of healthcare CEOs to Japan to attend Shingijutsu’s gemba kaizen at Hitachi.
My years guiding Lean implementations in healthcare had begun, almost without me realizing it, just as a few leading healthcare organizations became ready for transformative change.
In 2000, Mike Rona, then president of Virginia Mason Medical Center, sat next to me on a plane. We started talking. I said, “Mike you have to see this pitch about Lean that I’m going to present to the Minister of Health in Spain.’ Rona listened patiently. When we got off the plane I handed him my first book, “A World Class Production System,” recently published by Boeing. He didn’t forget our conversation. He shared the information and the book with his boss, CEO Gary Kaplan. As a result, JBA spent 6 years helping Virginia Mason get started with Lean. VMMC is now an acknowledged world leader in healthcare.