Four days into a department reorganization and my new boss called me in for a conversation that concluded with, “Do you want to be the contact center manager?”
“NO!,” I silently shouted. I had been looking forward to focusing on building the population health program I was originally hired for and I didn’t have the slightest clue of what was required to manage a contact center.
“I think you have the capacity and capability,” the senior vice president ask-told, “Why don’t you take a few days to think about it and let me know.”
There really wasn’t any answer to give except “Yes.” So I did.
The healthcare delivery operating environment is regularly producing “Now what?” moments — a moment when an administrator has beed told, asked, or discovered they now “own” a business problem that must be solved and find themselves in a moment of reflection asking, “Now what?”
Often the question is in silence to one’s self. Occasionally, people are more fortunate and get to ask it a little louder to a committee or an executive team. But even that can get tricky because topical expertise is a fleeting attribute in a fast-paced operating environment.
We’ve seen “Now what?” come in a variety of a flavors, but some seem to be more common, including the ask-tell flavor told above.
Another frequent variety is the execution imperative. There is a moment that arrives after the strategic planning activities of analysis, thought, and discussion when the new strategy must be operationalized and there isn’t a clear path forward. “Now what?”
Or our favorite, the innovation mandate. Someone, high from above, declares, “We need to be more innovative!” And proclaims to all in attendance that they must come up with three innovative ideas by the next meeting. “Now what?”
The last, which we cheekily call the oh-shi!, is when it becomes apparent to an administrator that the operation is facing a significant business problem — brought about by internal or external forces — that will impact the department, service line, or organization in some influential way. “Now what?”
“Now What?” moments often come from a place of fear, inexperience, or the unknown.
But the “Now What?” moment is a moment of action.
It means it’s time to do something. It’s time to shift attention to making something happen. Go.
There’s a long list of available actions. Do some research. Phone a colleague. Meet with IT or HR or project management. Plan a pilot. Discuss with your boss. Call a partner.
But the moment is now.
Don’t wait for permission, for more information, or for someone with more expertise to appear like I did in the contact center. Those weeks and months is a valuable time for doing. Because there is a moment that follows “Now what?” when no action is taken.
We won’t talk about that one. That moment is much more painful with much less individual agency. And, crucially, avoidable.
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