Quality Progress - June 2015 - 10
BY MANOJ SHARMA AND VARDAYINI SHARMA
Discovering the Right Path
Before tackling a project, learn about the organization's culture
AT NYU'S SPRING 2014 graduation,
projects due to the negative experience.
organization's needs and communicated to
Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal
Experienced staff felt that a meaningful
employees in an honest way.
Reserve, said: "You won't succeed all the
improvement opportunity wasn't selected.
time. Finding the right path in life, more
"They don't know what they are doing,"
problem solving and negotiations
often than not, involves some missteps."
one member said. The narrative had
to win over employees. Given these
changed to one of complete failure. Every-
circumstances, when we started a lean
one believed, "It won't work here."
project to improve drug packaging and
She described the work her colleagues
did to limit the impact of the financial
crisis: "Some of their efforts didn't work,
2. Use early engagement, inquiry,
distribution, we engaged managers and
but they didn't give up." The experience
Assess the current state
frontline staff from the beginning to
taught Yellen that a person's response to
Before selecting a project, take the orga-
explain in an authentic way what we were
inevitable setbacks matters as much as
nization's pulse. Interact with all levels of
doing. We asked simple questions such
the balance of victories and defeats.
management and staff, get a sense of what
as "What problems are you having?" and
they do and identify key challenges that
"Can you explain this further?" for every-
deliver successful projects and nudge an
exist. Identify any initiatives launched in
one to further understand the problem.
organization forward in its improvement
the past, the reason for undertaking those
journey. Finding the right path involves
initiatives, how they were managed and
project was meaningful and how the proj-
dealing with uncertainty because of an
supported, and how different parts of the
ect would be done. Employees' feedback
organization's unique culture and past
organization adapted to the changes.
was incorporated in the action plan. In
Often, improvement practitioners must
We explained why the improvement
some ways, you are using inquiry, problem
experiences. When things are uncertain,
HR professionals often recommend this
we lack clear answers. As a result, initial
approach in gauging an organization's cul-
solving and negotiation. By using this ap-
efforts may not work or the team could
ture before fully committing to a project.
proach in our project, staff members felt
Has the organization undertaken similar
they were heard, and their problems were
projects in the past? How was the experi-
understood and considered when develop-
inevitable setbacks is key to guiding the
ence and outcome? Developing these
ing the project and deploying solutions.
improvement journey forward. Direct
insights before starting work on a lean
confrontation, tactics to overwhelm oppo-
project helped us craft a better strategy by
tation, we discussed the improvement
sition, hard-selling solutions or uncompro-
addressing three key issues:
experience with management and staff
In such situations, our response to
mising positions often create negativity
1. Address the past bad experience.
3. Frame it right. After implemen-
in a realistic manner and highlighted
that leads to stonewalling, disengagement
At this pharmacy site, past experience was
successes and challenges. This helped
and painful memories of the improvement
negative because of the project's poor im-
reframe the narrative from creating some-
initiative. In other words: All pain, no gain.
plementation, unheard staff concerns and
thing that is perfect to steadily improving
At a pharmacy within a large hospital
users being unable to see credible benefits
the service-recognizing the benefits and
in a public healthcare system, we found
to doing the project. In such situations,
challenges in the journey needed over
that several improvement projects under-
building the initiative's credibility by de-
taken led to lighting fires in several areas,
livering a positive engagement experience
which roiled staff. Despite the effort, the
from the start, understanding the pace of
public hospital, staff had an unfavorable
project led to poor results in the annual
change an organization can sustain, deliv-
attitude toward improvements because they
staff survey and no visible improvements.
ering observable benefits and addressing
seemed uncomfortable with anything new
Later, major management intervention
staff concerns fairly is important for the
and different. "Things have not changed
was needed to ameliorate the union staff.
adoption to become grass roots. The pur-
here in a long time," some said. There are
pose of making change must be real and
many industries such as public healthcare
must flow from an actual situation or the
in which the pace of change is slow.
Needless to say, management was
afraid to pursue more improvement
10 QP * www.qualityprogress.com
At another pharmacy site within a large
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - June 2015
Mr. Pareto Head
What’s Your Next Move?
Assessing the Landscape
Change in Flow
Quality in the First Person
One Good Idea
Back to Basics
Quality Progress - June 2015