Monday, November 17, 2008

Muda Monday - waiting at the dentist

If you read this blog regularly, you probably know that I had a root canal in the last few weeks. I am happy to report that my two trips to the dentist were a success...and during this recently concluded political season, the phrase, "Drill baby drill!" took on an entirely new meaning for me. Although my switch to Dr. Goldsmith has reduced my gas expense and travel time to a 4 minute walk from home, my wait time in the lobby has greatly increased. It is nice that they have a really nice big screen TV in the lobby, but I could have spent my time better doing something else other than watching Martha Stewart. This practice may help the office juggle patients and keep them pacified while they sit, but it represents a complete waste for me. I measured the wait time and here is what I discovered:

Visit #1 40 minute wait

Visit #2 45 minute wait

First of all, let me just say that I really like Dr. Goldsmith and his staff. I believe that the quality of care is outstanding. However, the questions has to be asked: Why the wait? About a month ago, my son reported waiting for almost two hours when he has his six month appointment. These wait times represent a huge customer dissatisfier and should not be tolerated. One of my co-workers recently told me that she waits no more than 20 minutes before she walks out of any appointment. So in the brave new world of 21st century healthcare, the customer is king! Waiting is one of the seven wastes that should be eliminated and that costs money and causes customers to take their money elsewhere. So, I offer the following suggestions to reduce wait time.

1) Map the process of seeing patients at the dentist office.

2) Identify the root cause that prevents patiences from being seen.

3) Start measuring the average wait time of patients in the office to benchmark progress.

4) Identify the waste in the process and eliminate it.

Other ideas:

  • Offer Wi-Fi in the lobby so patients can access the internet from their laptops.

  • Offer Ipods or music during long dental procedures.

On Muda Monday, let's get rid of those wastes. In the coming difficult days of our economic downturn, using kaizen techniques will be even more important to improving business processes and profitability. Those that don't adapt and get more efficient will simply go out of business. So, go find the muda and remove it. When you do, you'll make more money and keep your cusomters happy...and not blogging about their excessive wait times!

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Friday, November 14, 2008

From Thou Shalt Laugh - the high energy humor of Thor Ramsey!

Part One

Part Two

Have a great weekend!

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quick and Easy Kaizen #11 - Mow your leaves...

Quick and Easy Kaizen is an improvement that you can easily do for yourself that improves a process by improving quality, saving time, and so forth. The book, The Idea Generator, by Norm Bodek addresses quick and easy Kaizen and I have been practicing this technique at work for some time. Using the ideas from Norm's book, I have added improvements at home and here are some that have made my life better but didn't require that much time and effort to implement.

#11 - Mowing leaves

Pretty self explanatory. I marvel at how much work it is to blow, bag, rake, and move bags of leaves to be picked up-lots and lots of muda...and that's the beginning. There is even more waste and inefficiency once the leaves are picked up and carted all over the place to be burned at the end. How wasteful can this be...and for basically no value.

Here's why I mow instead of bag:

  1. Much easier on my back-bagging requires lots of bending.

  2. Better excercise to walk and mow rather than raking, bending, and moving.

  3. Leaves are mulched up and put back into the local soil-that way God intended.

  4. Reduces the number of tools used to one lawn mover versus a rake, blower, bags, gloves, ties, and a mower.

  5. Leaves are processed faster than the bagging method(which can take weeks to finally eliminate leaves).

  6. Less petroleum used in lawn mowing than in leaf removal trucks.

  7. Reduces goverment waste by eliminating need for more garbage trucks, more fuel, and more people to dispose of.

So, stop bagging leaves-just mow'em!

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Great Household Purge update - 11/8/08

We started our journey of purging the waste, or muda(Japanese word for waste) in July. Our household didn't become bogged down with junk in a day and it will take months to complete the process. However, there have been some really cool things happen as a result. Here's some of my latest stats:

-$1780 cash recovered from selling unused stuff

-$71 in cash and unused gift cards found during purging.

-Over 800 hundred items donated to charity

-A vehicle donated to a family of a cancer victim.

-At least 100 square feet of storage space recovered.

Last month, I took more stuff to a garage sale to raise money for a needy family which was encouraging. My biggest challenge today is that the pace of our purging has slowed down quite a bit as the school year has picked up. So many other things seem to be getting in my way with the onset of winter but I hope to get back to purging. I want to do a "pre-Christmas" purge because will will be buying gifts and bringing holiday decorations and food in for the season. I must keep the possession arrow pointing outward meaning that more things are going out than in.

If anyone has any great ideas for reducing your stuff over the holidays, email me at me new address:

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

Monday, November 3, 2008

My son's Kaizen saves me 75 bucks. Cha-ching

A few months back, my son gave me a pharmacy kaizen he saw on TV. He told me that different pharmacies charge different prices for drugs and that I should shop around. I made a mental note of this tip, and stored it away for a later time. Then came the root canal.

After being triaged for my tooth abcess, the dentist gave me a prescription for anti-biotics and a pain medicine. When I got home, I remembered his tip and began to let my fingers do the walking. I started calling various pharmacies and here's what I got:

1st pharmacy call: $90 for both medications. Ouch!
2nd pharmacy call: $75 for both medications. Headed the right direction
3rd pharmacy call: $54 for both medications. Yes!
4th pharmacy call: One free and $21 for the other. Even better!
5th pharmacy call: $4 for one and $14 for the other.

My Kaizen was to go to one pharmacy where I got the anti-biotics for free and then drive to the other for the $14 pain med. It was only a 6 mile drive and it was't far to go to save that much money. So, the combination of humility(listening to my teenage son), 5 minutes of calling, and a short drive saved me $75 dollars.

Invest time in "Kaizening" - it's worth it!

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer