2015/08/04

Visting John Black in Seattle.



John Black is one of the nation's leading authorities on Lean Operations, and his consulting team is currently working with Ministry and Region leaders across the Province (North, Central and South) in a long term contract to deploy the Saskatchewan Healthcare Management System.

John Black’s career of service to country and corporate America spans almost five decades. During this time, he has become known as a pioneer and expert on the application of Lean operations—i.e., the Toyota Production System—to the healthcare industry. Through his consulting work over the past decade, major healthcare systems such as Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle and Park Nicollet Health Services in Minneapolis have proved that Lean principles profoundly enhance customer (patient) satisfaction and safety, quality, efficiency and profitability. Substantially as a result of John Black and Associates’ work, Virginia Mason was recently named ―Top Hospital of the Decade‖ by the Leapfrog Group. A focus of JBA’s team approach to helping healthcare systems implement Lean has been on improving clinical outcomes by firmly establishing the organizational infrastructure necessary for long-term results. Other major keys are establishing the principles of kaizen (continuous incremental improvement) and standardized work.

In the 1980s, while assigned to the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company, Black was appointed to the White House Council on Productivity under the administration of President Reagan. Its goal was to determine how United States defense contractors could improve their productivity. Black later served on a committee headed by Alan Mulally, former Boeing Commercial Airplane CEO and current CEO of Ford, to investigate how Boeing could improve productivity of its employees. Black’s research led to a series of recommendations aimed at getting employees more involved with the goal of quality improvement in Boeing’s 757 production process. One of the keys was integrating productivity improvement/quality-of-worklife (PI/QWL) programs into normal planning and control systems. Through principles and procedures recommended by Black, the 757 program enjoyed substantial improvements in costs, methods, and employee morale. This assignment resulted in a Harvard Business Review case study. Perhaps Black’s greatest achievement at Boeing was helping innovate Boeing’s moving assembly line, the first in aerospace. It was based on Toyota Production System (Lean) principles.

In fact, Black was a pioneer of Lean Operations at The Boeing Company. He was the first to introduce the ideas of quality gurus D.W. Edwards Deming and Dr. Joseph Juran to the company. He was also responsible for training thousands of Boeing employees in TPS, helped found the company's two quality centers and led a number of executive study trips to Japan – many of them for training with the Shingijutsu Company, the world's leading consultants on Just-In-Time manufacturing.

Black is the author of three books on Lean: A World Class Production System (1998), The Toyota Way to Healthcare Excellence: Increase Efficiency and Improve Quality with Lean (2008), and Lean Production: Implementing a World-Class System (2008).