Sulaiman Al Habib Medical takes top honours at Four Principles Kaizen Awards

19 December 2018 4 min. read

Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Group has been named as the inaugural recipient of the Four Principles Kaizen Awards’ Lean Transformation trophy at a ceremony in Riyadh.

Hosted by regional lean management specialists Four Principles, the inaugural Kaizen Awards ceremony brought together more than 50 Saudi Arabian business leaders at the Four Seasons in Riyadh to celebrate local achievements in lean transformations and the management philosophy of Kaizen – with Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Group awarded the top honour in the ‘Lean Transformation’ category together with four other winners on the night.

Established by Saudi national Dr. Sulaiman bin Abdulaziz Al-Habib in 1995, the Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Group is a leading Middle Eastern healthcare provider which operates a number of advanced medical centres in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain. Working with Four Principles, the Group recently underwent a total transformation of its supply chain and procurement processes according to lean management principles – cutting delivery times and thus reducing its inventory and wastage while freeing medical staff from dealing with logistics issues.

As the major category winner, three of the company’s senior executives will now have the opportunity to embark on a tailored five-day trip to Japan for a first-hand insight into lean implementations at some of the country’s leading firms. The runner-up in the transformation category – which covered projects containing smaller projects that impacted an entire organisation over a long period of time – was also of the healthcare sector; Saudi healthcare insurance firm Bupa Arabia.Sulaiman Al Habib Medical takes top honours at Four Principles Kaizen AwardsFour Principles notes the unique challenges the healthcare sector presents in terms of Lean implementations. “Lean methodology works from the starting point of defining value from the perspective of the customer or, in this case, the patient. However, such are the complexities of the healthcare system, it is internal customers that frequently drive processes. In the healthcare sector, this means up- and down-stream stages in the process, or physicians, hospitals, insurers, government and payers. It is therefore essential to re-appraise the process and shift the focus to defining value for the end-user – the patient."

Meanwhile, in the Continuous Improvement category, which focused on small scope projects limited to one area of the business, the award was given to the non-profit organisation Nesma Embroidery (a subsidiary of Nesma Holding) which provides employment for disadvantaged women in Saudi Arabia, with Cold Stores Group of Saudi Arabia (CGS) named as the runner-up. Restaurant chain alRomansiah was also awarded as the Lean Ambassadors winner.

Nesma Holding Vice Chair Noura Alturki said of the award; “We’re deeply honored to have been recognised at the inaugural Four Principles Kaizen Awards and we hope it encourages other Saudi Arabian businesses to adopt Kaizen philosophies in their own operations. Our efficiency, culture and results have been transformed by Lean management – and we are confident that others would see exactly the same benefits.”

In addition to celebrating lean cases and improvements in business efficiency, increased agility and greater profitability, the gathered attendees were also delivered a presentation by global Lean management expert Takao Sakai – the great-nephew of Kaizen pioneer Dr. Kotaro Honda who wrote the best-selling book ‘The Secrets Behind Toyota’s Success’ – with the automotive manufacturer emerging as the epicentre of Kaizen philosophy through its famous Toyota Production System developed after the second world war.

Hassan Jameel, Deputy President and Vice Chairman of Four Principles' parent Abdul Latif Jameel, said of the event; “We are delighted by the reaction to the inaugural Four Principles Awards – including the superb quality of the entries we received. Kaizen or Lean management is a philosophy we learnt and embraced from our long-term partner Toyota, mirroring the long-lasting Saudi Arabia-Japan relationship, and it has underpinned our approach and success for many years. At a time when the private sector has a vital role in the delivery of Vision 2030, we are delighted to be encouraging lean management in Saudi Arabia.”