The power of leadership: Lean training making a difference at 3sHealth

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What does it take to be a high-performing organization? How can leaders be empowered to make a difference in their work and the work of others?

Over the past few years, many of 3sHealth’s leaders have been seeking answers to these questions. And through their Lean training, they have been learning new strategies and tools to ensure that 3sHealth, together with other health care organizations in Saskatchewan, successfully finds new and creative ways of doing things for the betterment of patient care.

What many of 3sHealth’s trainees have found is that the key to success lies in leadership at all levels of the organization.

Recently, the following three 3sHealth leaders received their Lean leader certification: Mark Anderson (VP of business development), Kendell Arndt (VP of strategic information and corporate services), and Suzanne Boudreau-Exner (director of provincial contracting). Each one has taken away some key lessons on how to use lean at 3sHealth.

For Mark, Lean has been all about recognizing the importance of leadership, listening to front-line workers, and removing barriers for employees. Strong leadership, he explains, “is about challenging people to do their best, and it’s about supporting them in moving their ideas forward.” He explains that the best way to remove barriers is to make obstacles visible and allow challenges to come forward. The role of leaders, then, is to “cut across the organization and break down silos—both those inside and outside 3sHealth.”

Strong leadership is about challenging people to do their best, and it’s about supporting them in moving their ideas forward.
Mark Anderson, VP, business development

Suzanne echoes many of Mark’s observations, but she notes that “continuous improvement is what has really stuck” for her. While the idea cards 3sHealth uses to drive improvement “can be a chore at times,” they get people thinking, and resulting ideas do get implemented. All of those ideas “seem like little things, but together they are big,” she says.

Like Mark and Suzanne, Kendell emphasizes the benefits of “making things visual and visible,” but he believes that Lean also enables employees to be bold and courageous leaders within their own units. Because of Lean, employees “shouldn’t be shy about speaking up,” he says, noting that “fresh eyes are valuable.”

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