Plan to be great – not just to get things done.

The start of another year – and people are planning.  If you’re reading this, you’re probably developing an improvement plan for the year. – or thinking about it!

An improvement plan should be a simple task, but it’s easy to  over-complicate it. Basically, you want to know: Where are we now? Where do we want to be X months/years from now? How will we get there? The tricky bit is often in the ‘Where do we want to be?’ question. Quality improvement destinations can be hard to conceptualise, so we often end up describing what processes we want to have in place, rather than the destination we want to reach as a result. This is a bit like planning a holiday by making a list of all the things you have to do: packing, working out who will look after things while you’re away, identifying the mode of transport and the activities you’d like to include – without identifying where you’re going. You may get organised and experience some fun activities, but do you end up in the best possible place?

Many quality plans are elaborate ‘to do’ lists. These are satisfying to tick off as they’re accomplished, but difficult to assess in terms of what difference all those tasks made. Quality programs can become three or four year groundhog cycles – lots of work and effort going into essentially the same tasks, showing the same results on monitoring graphs year after year. Without a clear idea of how you want thing to be different as a result of all those tasks – great consumer experience; positive staff attitudes and actions; strong organisational reputation; inspirational Board leadership – the tasks on your to do list become ends in themselves. And another year of hard work and frustration passes with the old challenges – staff and executive engagement, data collection and reporting, sustained change, meeting standards – just getting more challenging.

So always start your quality planning by first identifying and describing your desired destination for consumers and staff – in concrete, specific terms – and work out from there the processes and actions you need to get you there.

What’s your great care destination in 2016?

2 thoughts on “Plan to be great – not just to get things done.

  1. Great read!!
    I agree with what you have said in this article. I understand that rather than having a ‘good’ quality outcome, have a ‘great’ quality outcome.
    I always like to compare with mental models of quality cycle and the most simplest and arguably the best one is the Plan, Do, Study , Act (PDSA) model.
    Also, I like to put into the fundamental mental models into ‘Input’, ‘Process’ and ‘Output’.
    In the above article, you have mentioned to focus at the outputs/outcomes and then work your way backwards or reverse engineering. That is one way of doing things and it is great to work with a visionary team. But sometimes, the visionary approach falls short when all the team members/stakeholders cannot see the ‘desired state’ and want to see something concrete towards working to that desired state. That is where the ‘Process stage’ comes in. And I am sure there are plenty of project managers / pundits who feel the ‘Process’ approach is great, who think, if you do all the right things in the ‘process’ box and tick all the boxes in the ‘process’ box, then one can be confident to get the right quality outcomes.
    And there are some who believe if one gets the right ‘inputs’ with the planning and strategy (including the stakeholder engagement, checkpoints, reporting etc.), then one is bound to reach the ‘proposed destination’ by sticking to the structured plan and strategy.
    I think, there are different approaches to reach the ‘desired state’ and it just depends on the person/team on which approach suits them better and also depending on what teams they are working in; inclusive of internal and external environment. Irrespective of the approach, as you mentioned if one has the goal of ‘great’ quality outcome, it would be beneficial for the efforts put in the quality activity.

    Again, these are just my personal thoughts based on some of the projects that I have worked in the healthcare industry with very limited exposure to the quality world. I am still in the learning phase.
    Vik Kalke


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