Shifting Paradigms to Work in a Virtual World

Posted on by CATALYSIS

Many of our work habits and processes have been disrupted due to COVID-19. Some important questions come to mind as our organizations think about the future: How will we do our work? What should we return to, what should change, and how will we determine a new norm?

Reflecting on Paradigms

Recently, during a Catalysis Healthcare Value Network Sharing session, Skip Steward, from Baptist Memorial Health Care, explained how his improvement team is investigating what it would look like for their group to do almost everything virtually. He explained that as we reflect on what practices are vital to our work and how to approach them in our new and changing environment, we need to consider the paradigms that exist in our minds that might be preventing us from finding new ways to accomplish the same work.

Going to the Gemba

One important practice that may not seem possible virtually is going to the gemba. When many of us think about going to the gemba, we think of it as needing to be in person so that we can see where the work is being done. That is a paradigm mindset that can hinder us. Skip mentioned that his team has been able to successfully use WhatsApp to do gemba walks by sharing video and virtually walking through the space.

Process Maps

This past week one of our internal workgroups had a virtual meeting to discuss some new work. We determined that we should take the time to create a process flow. In that moment, we were tempted to try to find a way to do this work partially in person, with sticky notes, etc. because that is a paradigm that we are working to shift in our minds. Some members of the workgroup challenged us to consider how we can do this virtually while maintaining the value and effectiveness of the process.

We have an opportunity to do this work well, but it will be different – and it is difficult to make that shift like with any change – but by the end of the meeting our group had listed a number of ways to experiment with creating the process map virtually.

Shifting Forward

The idea of shifting to doing most of our work virtually is challenging because it’s not just about using Zoom instead of flipchart paper – we need to ensure we find ways to accomplish the same goals for the session – and we will need to get creative to do this. But it also gives us an opportunity to capture what is important to doing this work and consequently provides other opportunities to study and adjust how we do our work.

What paradigms exist in your organization that might need to shift? What could you experiment with? Please share in the comments below.


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8 Responses to Shifting Paradigms to Work in a Virtual World

Margie Houseman says: 06/04/2020 at 12:52 pm

I have been using one note to create a virtual whiteboard. Colored post-its are made using 1 cell of a table and shading it – I make numerous of each color ahead of time. I also create a fishbone to put the post-its on as we work through the issue, current state, etc. I usually try an affinity diagram for placing post-its for future state. I have given participants access to the one note file so they can fill in their own post its or if they prefer, i fill them in as they share ideas. It has worked well for our RCA’s or A3’s. We are still tweaking, but I am pleased with the results. This also makes it easier to distribute electronically instead of transcribing and carrying around stickies and keeping everything from falling off the flip chart when mobile.

Claire Fisher says: 06/05/2020 at 1:22 am

Really enjoyed reading this and would be great to hear more about this as improvement teams test, learn and adapt to the virtual paradigm shift.

I have facilitated one virtual process mapping session so far and used Excel to do this by colouring the cells and resizing the boxes. It worked ok but wasn’t ideal and restricted the interactivity somewhat as only one of us could edit it at a time.

I have heard good things about ‘Miro’ so plan to test this with a small group next. It looks like there is much more flexibility with process mapping and there are pre-set templates for fishbone diagrams. You can invite collaborators and all work on the same document at the same time which I hope which increase the interactivity during the session.

We have also created a virtual improvement huddle which is hosted on MS Teams. Many of our frontline units are now using this rather than a face to face huddle. This also makes it straightforward for the leader to go to the gemba by joining the call to see how the team are solving problems.

Sara Thompson says: 06/05/2020 at 7:20 am

Thank you for sharing. We would love to hear how your experiment with Miro goes. We will keep sharing as we hear more from our Catalysis community about how teams are adapting to the virtual world.

Paul DeChant says: 06/11/2020 at 3:10 pm

It’s great to see a focus on going virtual.
My team has been using Mural as a scrum board for our start up and finding it very intuitive and helpful.
There are pre-made templates for a variety of purposes, and you can make them yourself. Sticky notes are created on the fly, can be any color and resized, shapes and text boxes also available, as well as bringing in images, linking documents, etc.
Our team hasn’t been in person with each other for 4 months and have not had a problem.

Sean Skinner says: 07/27/2020 at 7:07 pm

Zoom, Trello boards, and other virtual platforms and tools are good short term countermeasures. This cannot replace human interaction and this new paradigm is stressful for many. There will be long term mental health repercussions if we believe this is the new forever normal. It is not sustainable.


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