Employee Spotlight – Misty Hardie, Safety & Claims

Misty Hardie is a Claims Lead for King County Safety & Claims, part of the Human Resources Division.

When Misty Hardie joined King County’s Safety and Claims section in the Human Resources Division, she wanted to use what she had learned about Lean at the Washington Department of Labor and Industries.

How did you start Frontline Improvement by Small Kaizen* (FISK) at the Human Resources Division (HRD)?

When I was with Labor and Industries, I participated in a leadership program that required a capstone project.  I liked the idea of some kind of fast kaizen, so I researched Virginia Mason, Group Health, and Children’s Hospital and developed a methodology and form that I thought would work well for Labor and Industries.  I wanted it to be easy and give power to the people who do the work.  So I first tried FISK there.

What’s happened since October?

A lot.  All the ideas that have been submitted through Safety and Claims have been approved for testing and all were completed.  Not all worked, nor were all the ones that did work spread to other areas, but that’s success.  I think we’ve lowered the level of fear to submit an idea.  I think there are 14 ideas up on the board right now.  I hope we can look at all the results at an all-hands meeting in a few months. 

Have you encountered any barriers?

As always, time is a barrier.  People have piles of work and deadlines to meet.  Filling out the FISK form also takes more time than people initially think it will.  They usually think they know what the problem is.  But doing the analysis and coming up with a way to test is not what they are used to.  There’s also part of our culture that wants to manage up.  “I have a problem.  Manager, you fix it.”  But no one who’s actually done it has said it was a waste of time.  People are talking about it.  That’s what I wanted to be happening.

Any other insights you would like to share?

The thinking FISK asks you to do, which is based on Lean problem-solving thinking, helps you see beyond the bias of what’s most recently happened to you.  I hear people say “that always happens to me,” but I know that if they actually gathered some simple data, like making a hash mark on a notepad every time the thing did happen, they’d understand a lot more.

*“Kaizen” is a Japanese word that means “change for the better.”  Kaizen is a word commonly used in organizations implementing Lean thinking and tools.

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