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Case Studies

Washoe Health System Tackles Tough Issues with Six Thinking Hats

Background: Washoe Health System (WHS), 1996 Winner of the George Land Award for Innovation is committed to search for new and innovative ways to improve care and services with the goal of exceeding customer’s expectations.

“We know health care is changing. We don’t have to sell the need for creativity. For us it’s the implementation piece; the next step. We see the Six Thinking Hats® as a method to go beyond generating ideas … a way to help teams effectively and efficiently evaluate the merits of the ideas they learned to generate during our “One Team, One Purpose” course.” — Jennifer Kirby

WHS services include a 500 bed acute care hospital, home health agencies, long term care facility, urgent care centers, family medical clinics, a full line of insurance services, and a community health resource center.

In 1995 WHS University was created to teach employees about the resources available and skills necessary to provide “platinum” level customer service. Every employee attends the premier three day course, “One Team, One Purpose” consisting of six modules: innovation, attitude, team building, quality, great service, and living for your customer. The Six Thinking Hats® is the follow-up course to train blue hat process control facilitators who are utilized throughout the organization to facilitate team meetings, and to tackle tough issues.

Challenge: Purchase new equipment for the Intensive Care Unit. Constraints—budget is limited, only one piece of equipment can be selected. A key group wanted a flashy new piece of equipment. A “blue hat” process facilitator led the team to a decision in 15 minutes. Unheard of! The team selected a much better piece of equipment and all were in agreement, thus, saving time, avoiding conflict, and a costly purchasing error.

Challenge: Maximize caregiver time at the bedside for 600 nurses. Currently nurses must complete 15 chart audits per year, taking one hour each. 55 Caregivers met for a one day Six hats session and decided to invent a “new tool” that takes much less time, requires less paper work, and enables more time with patients. Rolled-out February 1998.

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