let's start at the very beginning

Friday, 6 January 2012

Great podcast episode: The Blue Yarn, by 99% Invisible

I was so intrigued by this episode of a lovely little design podcast I've been listening to. The episode was about how economic difficulties forced a redesign of a hospital and the outcome was wonderbunk for the patients.

You can listen to the 10-min ep here: http://soundcloud.com/roman-mars/99-invisible-30-the-blue-yarn
"In 1998 Dr. Gary Kaplan, the CEO of Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle received some bad news about his hospital. It was losing money. So Dr. Kaplan started studying how other hospitals were being run to see if there was a better way to manage his hospital. He scoured the country, looking for a hospital with a management system worth adopting, but he never found one. Instead he ended up in Japan. At a Toyota factory.
When Dr. Kaplan told his staff they would be changing everything about the way they operate and the changes were based on a car company and that doctors and nurses should refer to their new teachers as “sensei,” the response was less than ideal.
This entire, multiyear overhaul started with a ball of blue yarn. The staff met with a Toyota Production System sensei and he took out the ball of blue yarn and a map of the hospital and told the staff to trace the path a cancer patient would take on a typical visit for chemotherapy treatment. When they were finished, it was an immensely powerful visual experience for everyone in the room. They all stared at this map with blue yarn snaking all over the place, doubling back on itself and making complicated twists and turns from one end of the building to the other. They understood for the first time that they were taking their sickest patients, for whom time was their most precious resource, and they were wasting huge amounts of it."
(Bold emphasis mine.) 

The podcast is called 99% Invisible, by Roman Mars, who describes it as: "A tiny radio show about design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world." I highly recommend.

To subscribe: http://99percentinvisible.org/

For other poddies I've recommended in the past, see a previous post here.


  1. This sounds simply splendid! Must check the podcast out. Somehow, I forget about podcasts quite a lot of the time, when they are good for people in our style of shoe.

  2. I am very reliant on podcasts. Some of the Radio National ones haven't been on over the festive season and it's terribubble. Constantly amazed my iPod still works after the daily thrashing it's had the last few years...


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