I have a button on my softboard. It says: It’s easy to be hard; It’s hard to be easy. And, it serves as a constant reminder of the truth that, ever so often, we needlessly complicate matters.
A long-pending visit to the iSixSigma blog turned up an interesting post by Andrew Downard on this very subject:
I was recently perusing Time magazines “Top 100” list for 2008, and came across this entry for Peter Pronovost. I had never heard of Pronovost. Here’s part of what profiler Kathleen Kingsbury had to say about him:
“A critical-care researcher at Johns Hopkins University, Pronovost may have saved more lives than any laboratory scientist in the past decade by relying on a wonderfully simple tool…”
… after implementing it in hospital ICUs in Michigan, hospital-acquired infections dropped from 2.7 per 1,000 patients to zero. That means more than 1,500 lives were saved in the first 18 months.
So what is this ingenious invention? What critical breakthrough occurred? What fancy bit of science and statistics produced these stupendous results? Which process improvement methodology was put to work?
That’s right, Pronovost provided physicians with a list of steps as a reminding them how to complete routine procedures. 1500 lives were saved over 18 months in one state by writing down the steps for procedures, photocopying them, and handing them out.
Can you imagine the simplicity and elegance of that idea?
In our line of work, or daily life, we often encounter examples of simplicity in thought and action. But, gloss over them. The stuff that gets rewarded or acknowledged widely is the more glamourous and the complex stuff, right?
I wonder to myself how on earth we’ve allowed the continuous improvement world to become so complex and unapproachable…
Have we taken a wrong turn?
I couldn’t agree more.