Rapid process improvement workshop helps local business owner keep up with growing demand.
Karen Scott isn’t sick. She doesn’t suffer from a chronic illness. Her children and husband are healthy. But not so long ago, Renown Health changed her life.
Scott is an entrepreneur. You could say that Too Cute Totes — the business she owns and operates — is her third child, derived from a need to have a little “me” time while juggling her family and day job. To find that respite, Scott took her love of fabric, sewing and design to create one-of-a-kind purses and bags for loved ones. The response to the unique, hand-crafted totes was overwhelmingly positive; simply put, her creations were just too cute. And so the business was born.
Word-of-mouth orders got the company off the ground and kept it going. Business boomed. But being her own boss was harder than she had imagined, and keeping up with demand and getting totes shipped out in a timely manner proved to be a challenge. Filling an order could take up to twelve weeks. Customers awaiting their custom totes were getting anxious.
That’s where Renown stepped in. While presenting her business to an entrepreneurship class at the University of Nevada, Reno, Scott met Will Sutherland — a leader with Renown who was completing his MBA at UNR. While she had intended to get direction on her marketing plan, improving her processes and shipment times was the higher priority. Fortunately for Scott, Sutherland had just been certified in Transformational Health Care — Renown’s process improvement program — and he was eager to apply those fundamentals to the manufacturing processes at Too Cute Totes.
Our patients always come first, which is why Renown adopted Transformational Health Care principles and the Rapid Process Improvement Workshop (RPIW) model in 2010. These five-day workshops, led by Transformational Health Care certified leaders, bring together a group of employees across various departments to streamline processes, ultimately improving the patient experience.
It’s a process that, interestingly, is not rooted in healthcare. The RPIW actually stems from a manufacturing model, and implementing that model to the systems and processes at Renown has proven impactful. When the opportunity to help a local business arose, Renown knew the RPIW process that continually helps the organization improve its own processes could also help Scott keep pace with her growing demand.
At the start of the RPIW Scott was apprehensive. “I wondered if it was worth my time,” she admits. “I wasn’t sure the process Renown uses in a hospital setting could be translated to a manufacturing facility.” But knowing how the RPIW model started, it made perfect sense to the Transformational Health Care team to bring the process back to a manufacturing environment to streamline production flow for Too Cute Totes.
The team spent a week working with Scott’s employees on the production floor. They mapped traffic patterns, diagramed floor plans and documented production to identify “waste” in the process — physical obstacles and unnecessary steps that are a part of any workplace, but often invisible to workers.
“The tools of Transformational Health Care help us easily identify waste within a process and subsequent opportunities for improvement. In the case of Too Cute Totes, we utilized the tools to create a process that would help Karen meet her increasing demand,” explains Jennifer Richards, PhD, RN, Transformational Health Care Administrator for Renown Health. “No wasted time. No wasted effort. Nothing the customer isn’t willing to pay for.”
What they did with the information they gathered amazed Scott.
Before the RPIW, Too Cute Totes produced bags in batches, waiting for enough orders of one style to start production. Based on recommendations from the RPIW, the production line now operates more efficiently — filling orders as they are received. And that means customers are no longer waiting two to three months for their handbag.
Since the RPIW Scott reports continual improvement at Too Cute Totes. By implementing the team’s recommendations, Scott reduced the time required to ship an order from 400 business hours to 160 while boosting the number of totes shipped each month from 200 to 360 — an astounding increase of 80 percent.
“I am thankful and excited that this opportunity fell into my lap,” Scott relates. “Renown has been wonderful to allow their employees to help my small, rural business.”
Too Cute Totes is thriving as result of our first-ever community RPIW, and so is Renown. There is nothing like giving back to recharge the battery, reset the compass, be reminded of the things that matter most. And at Renown, that means supporting the health, well-being and livelihood of our wonderful community.