An army of Superheroes

Iron Man…Princess Leia…Unicorn…Spider Man…Viking. Super heroes from the latest action movie? Not exactly. At UMass Memorial, they’re a different kind of hero – black belts specially trained to safeguard our future through continuous improvement. To date, 100 caregivers across our organization and the community have been black belt trained. Think of them like a problem-solving SWAT team: they’re smart, have laser-sharp skills, and are ready to jump into action at a moment’s notice.

This month, we celebrated 26 caregivers who completed the 2018 black belt training program (and last week we held class reunions for all of our leadership development programs). Their mission: the design and implementation of systems and application of Lean tools and methodology to drive our True North goals around patient-centered care, quality, safety, efficiencies, and satisfaction. These are always important focus areas for us – however, they’re crucial during challenging times when working smarter is essential.


Black belts work on projects designed to elevate their leadership style and the state of their organizations. For anyone who’s been through Lean training, you know that teams are challenged to work together to efficiently complete the assembly of Mr. Potato Head figures – the Potato Head awards shown here were given out based on graduates’ special “stealth” skills. MPH

It’s amazing how something as mundane as Mr. Potato Head is helping activate our analytical and critical thinking process. Special thanks to Janell Forget, senior director, risk management, and a recent black belt graduate, who designed the awards pictured here and inspired this post.

Why invest in programs like this – as well as our Physician Leadership Development, Strategic Leader Development and Quality Scholar programs? Development is like insurance: it helps us weather the ups and downs of the constantly changing health care landscape and represents our commitment to employees’ career growth. Those who graduate from these programs are expected to bring critical skills back to their teams and peers. And it ensures we have the deep skills and tools needed to continuously improve operations and, ultimately, the patient experience as we work to become the best place to give care and the best place to get care. Development takes time and commitment, but it can also make us super heroes for the patients and families we serve.

Thanks for all of your ideas and for taking great care of our patients and each other,


Note: All UMass Memorial employees have access to development opportunities. For more information about those that apply to you, visit E-Learning 4U. And stay tuned: in 2019, HR will be introducing new ways for employees to learn about a wide variety of topics in fun and engaging ways via infographics, videos and more.

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