A key part of succeeding with operational excellence is understanding what the phrase means. It’s a broad term that can encompass many elements of a facility manager’s job, and members of the American Society for Health Care Engineering Operational Excellence Committee have various views of its definition.

“Operational excellence is a performance improvement item that’s almost become hardwired to anybody in our position,” says Michael Hatton, FASHE, vice president of Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston. “The status quo is not good enough. Every year we are expected to reduce expenses and drive out inefficiencies. You have to be critical of what you have historically done and adjust those processes to provide a similar level of services at less cost.”

Ryan Ollie, manager of operations/facilities at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., similarly sees operational excellence as stemming from deliberate efforts to trim costs.

“We have facilities leadership meetings, and part of the meeting is putting our heads together and brainstorming ways to save money when the organization’s senior leadership asks for our help,” Ollie says. “This is the culture of the organization; they encourage people to provide creative ideas for cost savings.”

The human side of the concept is most important for committee member Skanda Skandaverl, FASHE, division director of facilities management, planning, design and construction for Catholic Health Initiatives' Nebraska and Fargo, N.D., division.

“I focus on the human capital more than the real capital,” Skandaverl says. “You give the tools to the person and let the person do the job. You are there to support them and help them do their jobs well. That is how you can obtain operational excellence in health care.”