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GM's adaptation of Legos could help protect your car from problems

General Motors and WellStar Health System have jointly developed a novel approach using Legos to tackle serious problems

Whether the challenge is an electrical issue on the manufacturing floor, or a complex negotiation with a supplier of vaccines, it sometimes helps to add a visual tool to the analysis to better grasp the situation. GM and WellStar, a not-for –profit hospital system based in Georgia, have teamed up to create a 3-dimensional visualization tool for tracking the progress of complex problem solving. Many readers have used software based project tracking systems that show a time line and milestones. This system is similar, yet it has the added benefit of the third dimension. It can also be touched and felt and moved by hand.

The Navy has long used physical icons such as small planes and other symbols to manage the complex interactions on-board carriers and other ships. This system is similar in that it uses a physical icon to denote some challenge in a project. When using the Legos, the larger the block, the larger the challenge. As challenges progress forward in a timeline, the Legos can also move. One common area that both GM and a hospital network share is the strive to have lean operations.

GM's Outside Collaboration Solves Problems
The collaboration between the two companies started when members of GM’s leadership mentoring program invited WellStar to give a presentation on triage practices in a hospital emergency room. In return GM donated a simulated assembly line to WellStar. Tim Herrick, GM global vehicle chief engineer for trucks, vans and crossovers and a former GM employee, Dennis Pastor, now working as WellStar’s executive director of performance excellence, created a prototype of the Lego based 3-D visualization tool. The working model took a week to build.

The tool has been a productive one for WellStar as well as for GM. Pastor notes that “Discovering 3-D Visualization’s usefulness has been transformational for WellStar, and a significant catalyst for pro-active improvement.”

GM’s outside collaboration has yielded a helpful tool novel in its application, but simple in concept.