David Mann: Use the Process to Drive Behavior

The right process does more than produce goods with the least waste. It drives the right behavior. And sometimes driving behavior is the main point.

            That’s the lesson to be learned from a good discussion on Mark Graban’s Lean Blog, featuring comments by David Mann, author of Creating a Lean Culture: Tools to Sustain Lean Conversions.

            Mark began the discussion with an earlier post discussing efforts within healthcare to reduce hospital infections – which frequently occur because people simply do not wash their hands.

            So how do you get people to wash their hands? Yell at them? Spy on them? Not if you really want to change behavior.

            Mark’s post prompted good comments from a variety of people. His second posting including numerous specific suggestions from David Mann, including better education of employees, visual controls to instruct people and a process for allowing people to anonymously report offenders.

            We can all express exasperation at the way people disregard the most fundamental practices of good health, such as washing hands, but David’s approach is more practical. Set up the processes that change the behavior. Eventually, it will become second nature, and having the processes will be less important (though still a good idea).

            People do dumb things. It’s frustrating, but the best approach is: Don’t get mad. Fix it.


            By the way, my thanks to Mark for his post about Seth Godin’s misuse of the word kanban, and Seth’s subsequent (and gracious) updating of his comments after I sent him an email.


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