Healthcare delivery organizations, and departments or service lines in particular, need an approach to adaptation that matches the volume of change within the industry.
The refrain “It’s coming at us all at once” is echoed in organization after organization after organization. The demands of transformation are constant and unrelenting.
Since projects are how organizations change, and change is constant, projects should be constant, too.
Start. Finish. Repeat. It’s the only way to transform.
Constant projects? But how?
Keep it short. Limit the scope of any project to a timeframe that is manageable, keeps participants engaged, and quickly produces an outcome. A twelve-week timeline is a respectable benchmark. Is the initiative larger than the single project? Do another one! More than that? Do another project! What’s that old project management adage — when’s the best time to start another project? Right after you finished the last one! (Oh, maybe that came from sales…)
Ditch the meetings. Instead of using meeting time to update project status or badger slowpokes for the work they promised or manage pending risks or etc., use that time to work on the project. Limited scope projects have timelines that demand constant action. Project participants will actually show up and participate if you get actual work done during a reoccurring calendar block. Save the weekly status updates for the end-of-the-project celebration!
Think real time and show progress. Try new functionality — changes in people, process, and technology — first in the meetings-where-work-is-done and then in the real world. Review it! Validate it! Encourage participants to provide input — “yes, I like this;” “no, I don’t like that” — and make decisions to adjust or move forward — “yes, thanks for your opinion and that’s a great addition;” “yes, thanks for your opinion and we’ll save that for a future phase.”
Enhance! Enhance! Now it’s time to improve. To iterate. No project is ever, ahem, finished. Of course it will be introduced into the world and become the new way of doing but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved or altered or added to. A solution should be adjusted as the project outcome meets the real world and feedback is received. Add small things. Add big things. Try new things.
Believe in temporary. Maybe something drastic changed and the project outcome needs to be eliminated just a year later — that’s okay!, it was such a short project and great utilization of resources that the project outcome did what was needed. It was the bridge from there to here. And if we really go macro on it: every solution ever has been temporary. Things change. All the time. Projects that help departments move from one state to another are successes. Time to get started on the next project.
Increase the execution rate. Do projects. Lots of them. All the time. Finish projects. Keep going. It’s been said many different ways but the only known way to succeed is to try lots of things. Embrace the 10,000 Experiment Rule.
Train. Train. Train. Train. Train. Train. Projects go off the rails at this most important juncture: the translation of the new project into a live environment (and this advice isn’t only for technology projects). Resource-constrained organizations, most all of them, find that training is a convenient place to trim costs. Trimming costs is a fine objective — but don’t skimp on training time and resources. All that hard work of making a project happen shouldn’t go down the drain at the climax of execution.
Big transformation on your plate?
Pick a project.
Repeat and keep going.
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