Catalysis Staff Reflections from a Year of Change

Posted on by CATALYSIS

As 2020 comes to a close, it is a good time to pause and reflect on the year. Reflection is integral to the learning and personal development process. This important part of the PDSA cycle helps us take stock of what went well and what we can improve on in the future.

At Catalysis, our staff have taken time to share their reflections from working with customers and one another as we pursue our mission to transform healthcare.

What stands out to me is the incredible resilience of our team in a time of crisis. I feel we are stronger and more deeply connected to our mission…. But probably more importantly to the world is the resilience, dedication and commitment of our healthcare community!  The world has changed and they are rapidly learning and adjusting to meet the new demands.  Our network members and their willingness to share, and learn together with us is amazing.  The Nobel prize should go to the healthcare community!

Kim Barnas, CEO


I have wondered quite a bit about how history will look at 2020.  I hope it reflects well on the amazing people that work in healthcare. I am fortunate to have a relationship with many healthcare workers and can connect with them frequently.  The stories I hear give me hope and inspire me.  From an organization vowing to not lay off any staff and coming up with creative ways to redistribute labor by starting their internal personal protective equipment production line to asking a process improvement leader in an area hit heavily by the first wave of COVID-19 patients what they needed, and the response coming back more body bags, I am humbled daily by the work, leadership and forward-thinking that you display.  Thank you all for everything you are doing.

Chris Weisbrod, Network Manager


When was the last time you did something for the first time?  Nine months ago, I would have had to think a bit about that question.  2020 brought opportunities to try things that were new, uncomfortable, and hard.  It is okay to be anxious and uncertain, remembering that we were not meant to go through difficulties alone.  With our collective presence in the ‘uncomfortable zone,’ our collective creativity was inspiring.

Karen Flom, Director of Education


My reflections on 2020:

  • The COVID-19 crisis highlighted both the power of a mature lean management system and the risk of not having one. The organizations Catalysis works with who have the former reported faster and more reliable communications, faster speed of issue resolution and generally better staff confidence in their leadership. Those with the latter sometimes suffered from regression into command and control behaviors and the suboptimal results this form of management produces.
  • We are blessed with larger than life heroes in healthcare. Countless nurses, doctors, lab technicians and many, many others rose to the occasion that the crisis presented to them.  Many of these heroes literally risked their health and that of their families to care for the sick and dying.  We all owe them a debt of gratitude whose magnitude will only be understood over time.  Their actions rekindle our faith in humanity that has sometimes been badly bruised by global events over the prior few years.
  • The speed at which change can happen in times of need is nothing short of remarkable. Telehealth visits skyrocketed after years of languishing.  The pace of development and now deployment of the vaccines is incredible, as is the level of collaboration demonstrated between many large organizations.   It brings to mind Samuel Johnson’s quote, “When a man knows he’s going to hanged in a fortnight, it focuses his mind wonderfully.” 
  • As we emerge from this global crisis, we all have reason to be thankful. As has been the case in such crises in the past, good people stand up and prove that anything can be overcome through their concerted efforts.  We are blessed.

Paul Pejsa, Director


As I have been reflecting on 2020 and the myriad of challenges and obstacles it has brought, I have thought a lot about the Shingo Principle “Create Constancy of Purpose.” The stated definition is:

An unwavering clarity of why the organization exists, where it is going, and how it will get there enables people to align their actions, as well as to innovate, adapt and take risks with greater confidence.

Why does this matter now, in the midst of a pandemic? For me, organizationally, this has mattered as I consider Catalysis’ mission to help transform the healthcare industry and our ability to come together and adapt to the abruptly changed needs of the community we serve. We took stock of what the healthcare community truly needed, and how we could meet those needs. We offered opportunities to connect around the real (and real-time) issues that healthcare was facing amid the pandemic, collected the ideas, strategies, questions to consider, and shared them back out. I love that we kept our vision and mission in focus, while completely changing how we delivered.

The organizations we serve are part of a community that are doing the same. Their visions and missions to serve their local communities have stayed the same, yet how they are delivering care have completely been transformed.  I’m humbled to be associated with these amazing, dedicated leaders who are so willing to share, are transparent about both failures and successes, and strive for “better” every day. 

Rachel Regan, Program Director


As I reflect on the past year, what a year it has been certainly is an understatement.  I think about all the changes.  I think about those that have lost or are losing their businesses.  I think about those that have lost their jobs.  I think about the long-term impact on kids, families, and friends. I think about those of the frontline going to work every day, many working in hazardous environments.  I think about the world economy and the recovery time.  I think about organizations that could not quickly understand what was happening within their organization and the likely harm to staff and patients.  The reliance on antiquated reporting systems and processes was and still is disappointing.  Shamefully, even just this week, we have health systems, counties, and states that continue to report data errors and discrepancies in their COVID numbers.

However, it is not all bad news.  I also think about the good that has happened too.  Telehealth and e-Visits went from barely existing to a significant, transforming way to deliver care. Organizations rapidly shared knowledge about treating this new virus that undoubtedly saved lives. Some businesses within service industries rapidly adapted their processes to survive.  Healthcare organizations adapted rapid PDSA cycles to improve and make decisions.  Our network members re-deployed their improvement teams to stand up and help in incident command centers, design new workflows for drive-thru testing, PPE management, and now vaccine distribution. 

We have more to do.  The need for continuous improvement and innovation is as critical as ever. Rapid cycles of improvement should become an organizational standard. Public Health needs a major overhaul and transformation. Daily Management work systems should be expanding and improved. Data management, data governance, and analytics need to be prioritized and deeply embedded into the daily management system. The processes of learning, sharing, and connecting with others to accelerate improvement has proven to work.  It needs to continue and expand.

In reflection, I am proud and honored to be a part of this journey.  We can do this together.  “Success is a choice.”

I wish all of you a safe and happy holiday season!

Brian Veara, Program Director


Florence Nightingale is considered the mother of nursing and was born 200 years ago. This is one reason 2020 has been named the Year of the Nurse.  Florence was a pioneer in the use of the scientific method to support the changes needed for improved patient outcomes.  She used science and data to support her thinking and worked hard to ensure better outcomes for the patient.  She was an educator as well as a practitioner. What a great role-model for all nurses! I am proud to be a nurse and equally proud of the fact that I was able to graduate with a terminal degree in nursing in this year of the nurse.  I am reminded again of the importance of being a life-long learner.  As we all needed to learn how to live life differently in this year of COVID-19, I think Florence was a great role model for keeping the focus on the important work of changing healthcare for the better.  As I reflect on this past year, I am grateful for the people I was able to learn from and grateful for the ability to share my learning through coaching and teaching others while I continue to learn from them as well. 

According to Merriam-Webster, courage is having the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.  I think Florence led the way and I would suggest that all involved in healthcare are very courage people. As Brene Brown says, Courage is Contagious!  I hope we all have the courage to continue to learn together and persevere in new ways to think and connect after our experiences of 2020.

Pam Helander, Faculty


When reflecting back on the difficult, chaotic year of 2020 – I can see the powerful impact of kindness and creativity. I’ve seen how kindness in the midst of confusion and frustration can shift a conversation, provide a fruitful environment for working together, and shift someone’s entire outlook. I’ve also seen how creativity can move us forward, give us hope, and allow us to find new and better ways to work towards our mission and purpose.

Angela Brubacher, Education Manager


I think 2020 has taught me more than ever reinforcement of the Shingo principles. Transitioning into a fully remote workforce has challenged our small team in many ways we couldn’t have begun to imagine. We’ve needed to grow our respect and trust in one another, always assume the best intentions, think systemically and also create new ways to show value to customers, just to name a few. We’ve been able to pivot many of our business models and reinvent the way we deliver services to keep our community connected, inspired and continuously improve healthcare delivery.

Nicole Christensen, Events Manager


This year brought on a great deal of ambiguity in work life and personal life. This ambiguity highlighted the need for organizations to rely on a foundation of the Shingo Principles. Constancy of purpose stands out for me this year. As everything around us seemed to be changing daily it was helpful to remain focused on our purpose to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Sara Thompson, Communications Manager


As I reflect on this year, my thoughts turn to the strength of the human spirit.  When thinking about our team, we have maintained our thoughts on the human challenges we each are individually dealing with in this time. Our efforts to redouble respecting each other has been a breath of fresh air. This respect has extended to individuals we work with in healthcare systems and seeing how they support each other.  If we look below the turmoil presented in the media, we see and hear many examples of deep caring, support and concern for the people we interact with.  It is my hope that this level of compassion can carry forward for us all.

Peter Mariahazy, Chief Administrative Officer


We encourage all of you to reflect on what you learned this year and how you can use those learnings to continue to improve healthcare for patients, staff, and communities.

Please share your reflections in the comments section below.


Related Items

COVID-19 Resources Page

Catalysis Academy

Catalysis Healthcare Value Network

Transformation Roadmap Services


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