Follow the Learner

What does it really mean to be a “learning organization”? What does it take to get the people in a nonmanufacturing environment to think of work in terms of flow? How do you build a culture based on lean principles and lead that culture as it continuously evolves?

In his book, Follow the Learner: The Role of a Leader in Creating a Lean Culture, Dr. Sami Bahri describes how he and the staff in his practice tackled each of these questions. The book describes how their organization, the Bahri Dental Group, transformed their work and their thinking from a traditional batch-and-queue approach to one focused directly on the needs of the patient, not on the needs of the practitioners.

The book is organized into three sections–Creating the Practice, Leading the Transformation, and Discovering the Principles of Lean Leadership–that describe a personal and professional journey in terms that anyone, at any level, can learn from. It explains the technical changes that they made in the way that they scheduled and treated patients, as well as the understanding of the human interactions needed to make this new model succeed. Along the way, it demonstrates the universal application of lean concepts and methods in an environment with which we are all familiar, but is a long way from the traditional manufacturing roots of the Toyota Production System.

Dr. Bahri has created an honest and straightforward look at organizational transformation. He describes the experiments that led to rapid improvement and dramatic change, as well as the lessons he learned that changed his own definition of what it meant to be a leader. And he has created a leadership model of continuous improvement that lean thinkers and leaders everywhere can understand and relate to.