Process Improvement: Taking The First Step

Justin Clark, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

If you start to think about the idea of process improvement and you accept that it needs to be addressed as a service issue, you will likely be confronted with one of two realities very quickly. You will either see so many opportunities that you will have to wrestle with becoming overwhelmed at the thought of taking that first step. The alternative is that you may have an already high-achieving team and might believe that finding that first step will be hard because the gaps just aren’t that obvious. Either way, I would like to challenge you that failure in this case is best achieved by doing nothing.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

No matter the sector or market that you’re working in, you are competing for customers. In healthcare, people have more choices today than they did yesterday and they will likely have more choices tomorrow than they do today. In order to continue to strive for success, you must ask yourself the hard questions about your areas of responsibility. As I said last week, these are value based questions regarding the cost, quality, and convenience of the service your team provides for the customer. One way to help jumpstart your discussion is to do what is called a SWOT analysis.

How can you do it? 

  1. What is a SWOT analysis? No – it doesn’t mean you kick the door down on your department and see what’s inside (That’s a SWAT team). This SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
  2. How do you do it? Gather key members of your team. Choose people from all levels of the team to make sure that you have a fair and accurate representation of perspectives. From there, you all can discuss the four categories and how they apply to your team. If you want to learn more, check out this website.
  3. Take the first step. As a team, you can best decide which weaknesses need addressed first based on what opportunities and threats there are. It is that easy. Be decisive. Make a plan. Take action.

What are some additional strategies you have used to get the ball rolling on process improvement?  Log on and join the conversation at www.somc.org/blog.  We learn best from each other’s experiences.

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