Many executive teams spend significant time and resources developing a differentiating strategy, defining their priorities and deploying performance targets to set them apart from other hospitals or health systems. Unfortunately, all too often they look back and realize that they didn’t get where they planned to go because of poor execution.
Why does this happen? One reason is that operations and the front lines lose focus and alignment to priorities as other issues arise. Managers may not be equipped to handle the priorities in a way that keeps them aligned with the defined true north and strategic performance challenge. Or worse, they focus too heavily on reaching outcome measures without focusing on the processes that deliver those outcomes and engaging the people who actually do the work.
Organizations must be diligent and focused on how they operationalize their top priorities. Sound management system practices benefit organizations in the following ways:
Helps the organization stay aligned
Often operating areas are aligned with system performance challenges in the beginning, but this is a snapshot in time. Healthcare is a dynamic environment and things continuously change and evolve. Staff within the organization are constantly learning from their experiments and understanding problems more deeply. Organizations need to keep in constant communication to stay aligned from the front line all the way to the executive team.
Allows flexibility to manage priorities
Over time, big rocks arise and activities that were not originally planned for must get done. For example, work that comes from new regulations, safety issues, or a significant decline in performance in a focused area that requires action. A good escalation process will allow unit managers to communicate these issues along with their needs while making senior leaders aware of any setbacks in completing strategy work and help identify when a change in focus needs to happen.
Provides coaching and development at all levels
Once strategy deployment has occurred and individual operating areas understand their annual performance challenge, now it is the responsibility of those leaders to achieve the goal by any means necessary, right? Wrong. Engaging people to improve performance using scientific thinking while having discipline and accountability doesn’t just happen. It is leadership’s responsibility to not only ensure that their areas understand the performance challenges, but also to coach them toward those challenges by using scientific thinking and humble inquiry.
Ensures that teams consistently advance the work
Initiatives and focus toward deployed goals often start strong at the beginning. But when the reality of day to day operations sinks in, leaders and teams become distracted, lose focus, and the work slows. By building intention into leader standard work and through regular and structured coaching, executives can be assured that the right work continues to advance, see expected versus actual at different milestones, and respond quickly to adjust resources and support to stay on track.
Mike Radtke, Faculty