Over the last decade I have studied 115 healthcare organizations in 11 countries, examining them from the boardroom to the patient bedside. In that time, I have observed one critical element missing from just about every facility: a set of standards that could reliably produce zero-defect care for patients. This lack of standards is largely rooted in the Sloan management approach, a top-down management and leadership structure that is void of standardized accountability.
This article offers an alternative approach: management by process—an operating system that engages frontline staff in decisions and imposes standards and processes on the act of managing. Organizations that have adopted management by process have seen quality improve and costs decrease because the people closest to the work are expected to identify problems and solve them. Also detailed are the leadership behaviors required for an organization to successfully implement the management-by-process operating system and the board of trustees’ role in supporting the transformation.
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