A young professional recently asked me to explain how to best measure performance of organizations and professionals while discerning true motivations for each in framing solutions to unidentified, often unrealized, problems. The discussion involved a recent ‘seven minute assessment’ speech regarding personality typing and organizational profiling early in the rapport while gauging in potential Clients the desire for lasting, transformational change. After twenty minutes, he paused briefly before his next question surprised me. Continue reading
Over the course of these past several months, I have stood in my share of long lines at airports, hotels and cabstands while visiting clients in various cities. Unfortunately, many overhead conversations involved a common theme of loved ones in some form of distress. It’s disconcerting on a number of levels to see so many fearful for a future thought somehow not as bright as for previous generations. Rather than regale you with references to cycles and tales from the historical record to instill faith and hope, I thought rather to share a story that may provide a measure of solace to those that worry of the days to come.
You undoubtedly remember the phrase, “this too shall pass”. Are you aware of its origin?
Enabling a Revenue Driver
A significant portion of a hospital’s admissions enter through its Emergency Department (ED). Unfortunately, many hospitals exhibit broken processes, long wait times and fundamentally poor coordination of care. As a result, most hospital organizations view their EDs as cost centers and a necessary, though frustrating, component to delivering quality care to its community. Ironically, in high-performing hospitals, EDs are drivers of profitability, adding tremendous value to patients and providers alike. Properly addressed, it becomes a high-value marketing medium to the community providing the hospital a significant competitive advantage.
The Hallmarks of an Under-performing Supply Chain
It is estimated that the average American Hospital runs at an efficiency rate of less than 65%. This refers to the full cycle of major operational processes and the time necessary to complete those cycles. While there are numerous reasons for these existing inefficiencies, the primary reasons hypothesized are:
• Lack of adequately trained personnel
• Fundamental devaluation of basic supply management practices and processes due to the need to concentrate on patient care
• Lack of organization as it relates to the design of supply processes
• Lack of awareness of inefficient operations
• Broken or antiquated supply management processes
• Budget shortfalls not permitting hospitals to perform proper analysis of needs and inability to implement corrections to identified issues in the supply chain
Seeing the Forest for the Trees
The objective seemed daunting – how to best help hospitals fix themselves. Brainstorming over many options, a colleague, who had remained silent through much of the meeting, finally laughed and said, “You’re making this harder than it is.” She then spoke for the next 20 minutes of her deep experience in driving transformational change for a region of a well-known Health System. Continue reading
Were you profitable last year?
During a recent conversation with a CFO, I asked whether the organization was profitable and what programs he expected would drive performance improvement in the coming calendar year. With a twinkle in his eye, he laughed and said,
Jack, the reports tell me we’re in the black, but I don’t know how. Walking these halls, I see opportunities to improve everywhere. I get the numbers; I simply don’t believe them. The fact is, I’m drowning in data, but I have no information. You want to talk about performance? First, tell me, truthfully, whether I should have any faith in what we are measuring. Then we can talk about performance improvement.
The Need for Transparency
The underlying issue here is that change management without accurate, timely information is difficult to implement and taxing to maintain. The reasons are myriad, though an overabundance of disparate data points from multiple sources often provides clouded insight into ongoing operations. The old adage of “garbage in, garbage out” has merit. Executives running organizations today are in need of simple, but powerful, reporting tools providing transparency to their organization’s operations. From that, a systematic approach for creating excellence in any organization is possible.
At the risk of over-simplifying the steps of a successful change effort, there really exist only three:
1) Clarify the problem
2) “De-risk” and simplify the change effort
3) Hardwire your organization for excellence
Working with a proven methodology permits effective identification and prioritization of high-value opportunities to be implemented in the shortest time while minimizing organizational risk. It also permits and promotes organizational transformation, yielding a culture striving toward excellence.
So now what?
The Executive Management Team for your Hospital expects justification for the $500,000 expense in hiring a leading consulting firm and Industry “expert” to design a strategy for financial and operational improvement. Unfortunately, the 500 page report on your organization’s deficiencies failed to address the most important consideration of all – how to translate opportunity into financial and operational reality.
While creating the implementation work plans, your Project Team begins to find a general lack of alignment to operational realities. They report many priority recommendations lack feasibility and fail to account for resource availability or the political effort required to execute. How will you ever link Strategy to Implementation?
Synthesis: Aligning Strategy to Implementation
The example cited above is real and lends testimony to the need of holding consultants accountable to their recommendations. Failing to synthesize an organization’s enterprise strategy with its operations, resources, culture and community invariably leads to stalled initiatives dragging on financial and operational performance. Continue reading