Ramblings from the Representative-at-Large

Submitted by Patty Lunsford, Representative-at-Large, Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health, Lafayette, Crawfordsville, and Rensselaer, Indiana

“The State Liaisons Committee shall serve as a conduit for communication between the chapter and state health sciences library associations, local library groups and library science educational programs. It shall serve as a mechanism for chapter officers and committees to distribute information and receive feedback at the state and local level.”

 In our ever-more-complicated and crowded world of data, technology, global interactions, business models, metrics, cost effectiveness, and competition, we frequently become buried and stressed with the critical nature of achieving and delivering excellence, working more effectively, and both justifying and saving costs (midst shrinking budgets).  We can also become overwhelmed with, and even feel  threatened by, models, acronyms, and what they all mean and how they impact our work and professions.

Most of us are familiar with the principle and practice of Lean Culture—which is the updated practice formerly identified as Lean Six Sigma—and many of us may already be familiar with the SQDC model—Safety-Quality-Delivery-Cost—a work model which actually is adapted from manufacturing (not healthcare or education), which emphasizes first and foremost the CUSTOMER (or patient, employee, physician, professor) and then how to provide, based upon observable and tangible metrics (rather than mere statistics) a culture of service excellence built upon Safety, Quality, Delivery, and Cost—in this order.

NOTE: Cost is last in line, even as we fret over shrinking budgets and cutting dollars and  doing more with less—when we prioritize our customer/patron/client focus, and strive to ensure his/her safety first, then create and actualize practices which deliver quality, followed  by delivery—the cost savings are manifested as a direct result of enacting the first three components of this model.

It would take chapters and books to fully define, understand, and learn how to apply the SQDC model—but as I recently have begun studying the model and concept in articles and charts taught to us in my Franciscan Health Lafayette hospitals by our Administration and Business Transformation team, I have become enthralled about how the SQDC Model can be applied to library and information science and how we perform our work and serve our patrons and carry out our missions of service and excellence.

How do we ensure the SAFETY of our patrons, which includes reducing error and injury, and  enhancing and improving workplace  and employee morale and our library environments? Is the information we provide for them truly applicable and excellent for their research, clinical, or teaching needs?

How do we provide QUALITY in our services and interactions—which also encompasses the methods we employ to  study and evaluate our processes, resources, and practices to maximize reliability and efficiency—and are we keeping ourselves updated to be current and excellent in our professional practices?

Safety and quality thus impact the DELIVERY of our services—whether they be research and reference, technical processing, acquisitions management, clinical instruction, and the impact our libraries have upon our patrons and our organizations.

Finally, the inter-relationships of safety, quality, and delivery impact the COST of our resources and servicesnot only to us as information specialists, but also to our patrons (clients, customers, folks who use, and should be using, our libraries). Often organizations place cost first—which prospectively leads to personnel cuts, reduction in force, depleted services and resources, which then create loss of morale and engagement and positivity among an organization’s employees—who truly are the most critical customers! How can we serve and enhance our clients if we, as the prime customers—employees, are fraught with stress and disillusionment over depleted budgets?  So we need to study those metrics and evaluate our services and resources, and ensure that we are either using them wisely and resourcefully—or change them and find a way to work with what we have and truly need.

Lean Culture and the SQDC Model are based upon process orientation rather than task orientation. The entire philosophy of Lean Culture, supported by the SQDC Model, enables us to be energized and inspired by looking introspectively at our entire profession and the ways in we deliver services, select and evaluate our resources, serve our patrons, interact with our colleagues, and –how we uphold one of the chief missions of our profession—to create and enhance an environment of lifelong learning and health literacy and to be active and reliable stewards of the instruments of learning and knowledge.

As your Representative-at-Large, one of my responsibilities and “joys of this work” is to communicate with our State Representatives and Presidents—and all of our members, actually– and to encourage all of us to share various questions and situations which arise –either as a presented question or issue or challenge…please—share with us all experiences of this kind—how you have planned, gotten the job done, what worked and what did not, and how you coped…and succeeded.

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