The Bungsu Story book

I’m writing a book on a very special experience that I was lucky to be part of during my time in Indonesia. In this post, I wanted to give you a little introduction to how the story happened, a short glimpse into what happened and also something about what is going on right now.

The Background

In 2013 my wife and I moved to Indonesia to work for the Salvation Army there. It’s been a life-long dream of my wife to work abroad helping underprivileged people – she made a strong hint about it on our first date (just so that I knew…).

For some years I had a hard time thinking about what my programming skills could be used for in that context, but as time progressed,

I started to be more and more interested in agile methods and how to work effectively together in teams. *That* could be useful I thought – and I was right.

We accepted positions in the Salvation Army Health Foundation in Indonesia which governs six hospitals and 17 clinics spread out in the vast country. Elin, being a nurse, was the nursing consultant helping the foundation to focus on quality in this important profession. My job description was focusing on the strategic plans for the hospitals and helping the directors of the hospitals to develop strategic plans. As it turned out my job was though to do there, in part due to language challenges (very few people speak English), but also because the groundwork for me coming there was laid. Why should the directors of the hospitals listen to some Swedish guy that just dropped in from above? There was no proper answer to that.

However … another need arose.

The Story

One of the Salvation Army hospitals was just about 150 meters from our house. Naturally, we had close relations with both the hospital and the staff there. Both my kids and I had been patients sometimes there.

That particular hospital, Rumah Sakit Bungsu, also had problems that we little by little discovered:

  • They served too few patients. Some days just a couple of patients for a hospital with 55 beds and 120 people employed is simply not financially viable. The **cash flow** problem was apparent. In fact, some months invoices and salaries could not be paid.
  • The **salaries** that we did pay was **below the minimum standard** in the city, which of course is not legal
  • Finally we’ve learned that the hospital was operating on probation since the **operational permit was not valid** since one year back.

On top of this, the building of the hospital was ancient and in bad need of renovation. The roof, in particular, was in need of repair.

When the story starts, I just return from being out of town, finding that the ceiling repair has gone horribly wrong. The roof has practically collapsed onto the second floor and then a week of rain has caused severe damage not only on the second floor, that looked beyond reparable but also on the first floor where water is dripping down.

This story is about how we got out of that horrible situation described above, into being a fully operational, certified, patient-filled, joyful and hypothesis-driven hospital in 1.5 years. The driver behind this change was kanban and many lean/agile practices that I’ve picked up during my career.

I hope that you, as I did, will gain a deeper and better understanding of these principles and tools by seeing them applied in an entirely different setting and context.

The Writing

During my adventures in Indonesia I kept blogging about it. One post in particular caught the interest of Vasco Duarte, and he invited me to write a book about the experiences there.

I was first reluctant thinking that what we had done was nothing to tell really, but as we started to throw topics back and forth, I realized that the story was something that could be helpful for others to read.

We are now in the middle of writing the book. I have written the whole story down, and together with the awesome people of Oikosofy we are now working to make the story crisper and focused since the base material probably holds content for at least two books.

Right now there’s a site where you can get hold of the first chapter and get the subsequent chapters as we finish them. I’d love to get your feedback and first impressions on that.

The Other

I am also giving presentations, telling this story, and you can see one presentation on YouTube from Lean Kanban North America 2016 where I was invited as a speaker and nominee to the Brickell Key Award

During 2016, I will present this topic on the following conferences:

The Summary

The things that happened at RS Bungsu that I was fortunate to take part in transformed me completely. I hope that I can share some of that and that you, as I did, will learn lean/agile principles more in depth. I would be honored for you to join me on my journey.

Please contact me with any questions on @marcusoftnet


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