Getting Lean with Herman Miller’s Roger Call

Earlier this week, a group of individuals exclusively attended a Lean Thinking Workshop hosted by Roger Call, registered architect and current Director of Healthcare Kaizen Architecture for Herman Miller Healthcare. Attendees participated in an organized activity which provided an interactive, hands-on experience led by trained Lean facilitators. This activity focused on teaching the attendees how to apply and comprehend the Lean concepts in a healthcare setting—specifically an ambulatory clinic as a model.

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Roger gave a few CEU’s during the simulation where he highlighted the current conditions that are triggering the necessity for Lean. The “perfect storm” (as Roger called it) that is brewing in the current healthcare field derives from higher demand (more people entering the system), higher quality standards, and lowering reimbursement–which forces providers to become more efficient while reducing errors. Thus to put this driving force in perspective, Roger Call laid out a scenario which spurred the activity. Each table of eight attendees was a clinic where a world-renowned architect had previously designed everything. Rearranging what had already been done would be a capital expense and was denied. Therefore, the attendees had the task of following their job descriptions exactly to fulfill the goal—to reduce errors and become a profitable clinic.

Each table went through this didactic exercise to experience how it would feel to take a patient through a clinic. The exercise guided the teams through directly experiencing errors by posing challenges. For example, the instructions specified that for the entirety of the workshop each person had to write in all CAPS or it was considered an error that needed to be redone. Working as a team, small incremental steps were taken to remedy the situation. Jen Zeller, Intereum’s A&D Market Manager, explained how these steps helped to, “Drive home the point of a continuous improvement of environment. It also drove home the point that quality control is everyone’s responsibility.”

Although only a two hour workshop, the main take away from the Lean Simulation was unambiguous, encompassing the strong correlation between design and performance. Only in truly adaptive environments—environments intentionally designed for change—can cultivate cultures of continuous improvement. Planning and designing for the changing future will be the only way to facilitate and reap the benefits of the Lean process.

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Since 1996 when automaker Toyota’s consulting group was implemented, Herman Miller exclusively partnered with Toyota and continues to apply Lean philosophies into every step of their work. With a consistent relationship for 17 years, Herman Miller has fostered the Lean idea of continuous improvement through their research and development, the factory floor and business practices. Together, Intereum and Herman Miller implement the Lean philosophies throughout the installation, design and order entry process to increase efficiency and satisfaction.


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