Thursday, February 11, 2016

teaching process improvement

I am teaching a management course this semester and today's lecture was an introduction to continuous process improvement (CQI) in health care organizations.

Since this was a classroom situation and this was a first exposure to CQI for most of the students, we did a couple of simple exercises I like to do. One was the ball passing exercise. I put the students in a circle and then have them toss a ball across the circle to someone else progressively until everyone has had the ball. We then do it for time. They get marginally better with a few iterations, then I encourage them to think about how to improve the process. Eventually they realize that if they reorganize the circle they can simply hand the ball around the circle, which dramatically decreases process time and error rate (fewer dropped balls). The improvement requires no additional resources, which is an important part of the lesson.

I then showed them a few slides about PDCA with an example of a hospital that has an out of control length of stay situation for a given DRG. We talk about that and how we might apply iterative improvements.

I then showed them one of my favorite innovation examples, the IDEO Shopping Cart video:

Then we did an iterative improvement exercise where I gave them a can of play dough and a pile of popsicle sticks and told them that they were competing in teams to build the tallest tower they could from just those two materials, and they had only 3 minutes to do it.

The simple task and short time frame allowed for four iterations - one practice and three for time. (You can see some of the students working on a design above.) The rapid cycle allowed them to revise and improve on previous experiences. One of the processes most of them adopted was preparing balls of play dough before the clock started (I told them the play dough and sticks had to be separate before the time started, but not that the play dough had to be in one lump).

I think these are good, inexpensive means with high involvement for introducing the concept of CQI.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

don't blame the victim

In the aisle of Trader Joe's, innocently minding my own business when suddenly I was assaulted by a four pack of peanut butter filled dark chocolate cupcakes and a bottle of 2-buck Chuck. That was all she wrote.

Don't blame the victim.

No victim shaming. 

morning commute - it's been a while

I've gotten out of the habit of walking to work. With the cold and the snow, and I guess the winter break, I'd just plain stopped. 

Today I decided I would go anyway. I put on my clunky snow boots and headed out through College Woods to the back side of UNH.

There is still snow on the Oyster River - it's a different look than last time I posted shots from my morning commute. Once I cross the bridge, I'm officially on the back side of campus - near the water purification plant and the grounds maintenance area.

I love that I can walk to work in 20 minutes - even through the snow. Kandie offered to come pick me up after I was done at the office, but I told her no, I wanted to walk home. And I did. So peaceful. 

Well, peaceful and kind of humorous on the way home because I was trailing behind three college girls who were smoking weed and walking ahead of me. I'm not fond of the smell of weed. But other than that, totally peaceful.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

existential comic

Received the following hilarious interpretation of the Rawls-Nozick debate (with a nod to Marx at the end) from O.P.:

Might have to use this next time I talk about the veil of ignorance. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Snow Shoeing on Foss Farms

Kandie and I went out snow shoeing together for the first time today. With the 8 inches of fresh snow we got yesterday, today was a perfect day for it. It wasn't particularly cold, either, at about 30 degrees, so it was pleasant for a walk in the woods.

Any day you can get outside and into nature I think is a good day. 

I love that we can walk out our back door and be in the woods. And yet I am less than a mile from my office.

It's such a blessing to live in New Hampshire. Everyday yields new beauty.

Friday, February 5, 2016

storm and a trip

A storm snuck up on us today. It was 55 degrees yesterday, and today we got about eight inches of snow.

I didn't even know we were supposed to get a storm; it didn't seem like any of my colleagues did, either. Which is strange given today's technology. Especially a storm of some significance. 

I actually took a car full of freshman students to visit a hospital in Manchester today where an alumna of my program hosted us and talked about opportunities to them (as well as some upperclassman). It was a great trip, and the roads were only a little slick on the way out, but they were a mess on the way back. We did 25 or 30 on the section of 101 that is normally 65. 

I love taking students to events like this, despite the storm. It's so great to see them see their possible future.