Interview with a Lean Leader – Lisa White

This is the third in a series of interviews to help us get to know our Lean leaders.

Lisa WhiteLisa White, Infrastructure Lead, Kaizen Promotion Office, Saskatoon Health Region

Why do you believe in Lean?
As the Lean philosophy and tools become second nature to us as a province as a whole,we will see amazing change flourish for the benefit of our patients and families. I think the power of Lean is understanding – using real time data to build our value stream maps. Using them to focus, understand, and communicate our processes is unprecedented in Saskatchewan health care. Being able to make multidisciplinary rapid improvement decisions that yield real measurable results is all the proof I need to believe. It helps that Toyota is such a remarkable success story to learn from and health care institutions like Virginia Mason and Park Nicollet are such attainable and accessible role models. It is really exciting!

What was your first job?And what led you to your current position?
I was raised on a pig farm in Nova Scotia and went to the Nova Scotia Agricultural College to get my Bachelor of Science degree. My first job was actually a research trial that looked at the true metabolizable energy in seal meal for chickens. I was a chicken poop collector and analyzer! It was the first step on my scientific research career that lasted the next 13 years and brought me to Saskatchewan. I completed my Master of Science degree at the University of Saskatchewan, focusing on endocrinology and immunology of baby pigs. I serendipitously came to the Saskatoon Health Region in the Quality Improvement department three years ago. I was given the John Black book (The Toyota Way to HealthcareExcellence) to read and was told this is what we would be doing province wide. After the shock and awe subsided, I jumped in with both feet! I feel sincerely fortunate to be a part of this journey. I love being in the right place at the right time!

Describe something about you that people who haven’t seen your resumé wouldn’t know.
I used to rock the rugby pitch. For eight years I played club teams and college teams in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. I also played eight man on the Saskatchewan provincial team at the 2008 National championships. Another little-known fact: I am the 10th generation in my family to be born in Newfoundland.

If you could be any character in a book, movie, or television show, who would it be and why?

I think maybe Harry Potter. He is a character who has suffered through incredible challenges and disappointments and managed to triumph because of his internal strength and character. Not only does he fly and go to Hogwarts (School of Witchcraft and Wizardry), but he has the courage to fight enemies and evil infinitely more dangerous and powerful than himself. I guess right now in Saskatchewan all of us involved with implementation of the Lean management system get to channel Harry Potter. We have to call on our internal strength and character with the belief at our core that we are doing the right thing to fight the evil Voldemort that is the waste in our system.

– Originally published in Transforming Health Care Through Lean – Spring 2013.


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