I have worked professionally in the health care industry for over 20 years and have held various positions. The Health Care industry has a lot of challenges, not the least of which is high demand coupled with modest reimbursement models. In addition we have challenges with finding and recruiting good staff at all levels, and then of course there is the regulatory challenges associated with changes at the federal and state levels. Because of this I tend to get engaged with a lot of new ideas, and new programs to support new and changing customers. In previous COO roles, I would engage with operators on a daily basis and my biggest challenge when reviewing a new idea is to get out of the operator mind set for a little bit. Truth be told I enjoy the detail, and the problem solving that comes up in operations. I often see the challenges as puzzles that need solved without easy answers. However, when looking at a new idea, program, market, work flow etc…I have started stressing to my team the three A’s of implementation.
When looking at something new and different it is important, as operators, that we don’t quickly try to solve the problems associated with the idea, or understand how it fits in our current work flow or programmatic scheme. I give all the credit of the first “A” to Peter Block and his book, “the answer to how is yes”. I got to hear Peter speak in 2005 at a Servant Leadership conference in Indianapolis and this book has stayed with me ever since.
The first piece of the puzzle for any team determining the implementation of a new idea is to “Ask” why. Why are we going to do this? Is the desire strategic based on changes to public policy, is it too good of an opportunity, or does it dovetail nicely into current services and fits a need stated by our customers? We are not trying to figure out how it will function yet, or who is in charge of it, or any of those operational things we often jump to. I want to know why are we going to put resources into this idea, program or concept.
The second “A” is to agree. After we have determined why we are going to do something, it is important that we assure that all the people on the team agrees to what this new thing really is. Is it meant to generate profit, or simply cover costs? Is it meant to be a center piece of all we do? Is it suppose to take off like a wild fire, or slowly gain momentum? Is it meant to serve a customer need, or a company need? Regardless of the answer, we all need to agree as to what this new endeavor will be when it grows up.
The third “A” is when we can finally turn all the operators loose. At this phase we all understand why we need to do something. We have already defined clearly for everyone what this new thing is, and what it is meant to accomplish. Now we get to act. The third “A”, is act, or action. We put together the steps that will integrate the new idea or concept into our operations.