The Stanford Operating System (SOS)

Most of you by now have participated in some type of Stanford Operating System work. It might have been a 5S, a Kaizen event, crafting an A-3 for problem solving or using a simple think pad on your unit to work through a problem. Many of you might be thinking “Oh great, the flavor of this leadership team is Lean, what else will we see next?” And you would be right. Over the years SHC, like many other hospitals, has tried lots of different approaches to cure the ills that have potential to cause harm to our patients and staff.  After a change, we often slip back into our old behaviors or practices. I was right there with you, but not anymore.

I used to say “There are no new problems in health care; we just seem to re-cycle the old ones”. Nurses of 20 years ago were dealing with HAPU, CAUTI, etc. – just like us. The Stanford Operating System (SOS) really has the potential to change all of that; I have seen it work at other hospitals and businesses. One of the key tenets spoken by Lean leaders is “Never tell your staff exactly what to do. When you do that you take responsibility away from them” (Shook, 2010). I ask you now to contrast that thinking with our Shared Leadership Model. Can you see the similarities with the basic concepts?

The source of all innovation and improvement must come from the people who do the work, and for us, that is the RN. Our job is to give you the tools you need to get the work done. If you would like more education or training on the tools and processes for the SOS, stay tuned. Over the coming year we will continue to have RN’s from the front line in leadership roles on improvement events. I look forward to working with you as we continue to improve our work environment together as leaders.


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