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Case Study: Improving Health by Getting Lean Essay

1. What perspective(s) of organizational effectiveness best describe the application of lean management practices? Describe how specific elements of that perspective related to the interventions described in this case study.

This case study utilized several perspectives of organizational effectiveness to help adapt their goal of lean management. Within the open system perspective the most common strategy is to change the company’s products and services, as well as how outputs are produced (McShane & Von Glinow, 2015, page 9). Sunderland reached out to their external environment for information with borrowing ideas from a nearby Nissan factory and incorporated information learned. Sunderland integrated this information by mapping out their work processes, evaluated their activities, and developed ways to reduce lengthy patient wait times. In order to reach their goals, organizational learning perspective played a big part. Emphasis is placed on human capital with the knowledge and skills employees brought to the table.

“Lean works because it is based on doctors, nurses, and other staff leading the process and telling us what adds value and what doesn’t. They are the ones who know” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2015, page 28). The input from employees helped reduce patient wait time, streamlines the patient pathway from 29 to 11 discrete stages, cut 34 miles of walking per day, reduced 60 percent of supplies used for hip and knee surgery, and improved congestion in the emergency department through varies of hospitals.

With all the improvements high performance work practices perspective now takes shape. Involving employees in decision making and giving them more autonomy over their work activities tend to strengthen employee motivation and improve decision making, organizational responsiveness, and commitment to change (McShane & Von Glinow, 2015, page 13). Employee involvement was the key to strengthened motivation, decision-making and commitment to change.

2. Does lean management ignore some perspectives of organizational effectiveness? If so, what are the unintended consequences of these practices that might undermine rather than improve the organization’s effectiveness?

In this case study, lean management may have ignored the stakeholder’s perspective if we look at this through the patients view and even the employee’s view. Although the lean management is quicker and more efficient customer care, at what cost comes from this? Wait time has always been a concern for patients but the quality of care over-rules the priority of the needs for the community (stakeholders). The case study in question only gives the point of view from the hospital, not the patient. So with that said, does the patient feel pushed through the system or do they feel they received a high quality of care?

This is where corporate social responsibility (CSR) may be corrupted. CSR intentions are to benefit society with no regards to the financial or legal obligations. Looking at the reduction of time and supplies used, there is a push from the employees to rush patients through their medical services to meet their efficiency process. If this is the case, then both the patients and employees are conflicted.

3. In what situations, if any, would it be difficult or risky to apply lean management practices? What conditions make these practices challenging in these situations?

In order for lean management to work, you must have management that understands the concept of lean management and how employees play a role in the success of the outcome. Leadership co-working with employees is essential for lean management to be successful. If you have managers or supervisors in place that does not allow employees to have a say in what works and what does not work, the implementation of lean management may result in failure. The conditions that make this challenging are when management decides what solution to use without understanding the real problem.


McShane, S., & Glinow, M. (2015). Organizational behavior (Seventh ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

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