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Honoring our healthcare commitments

Posted May 27 2010 11:43am

by Thomas Dahlborg

What is your healthcare organization's Vision Statement?

What is your specific role in ensuring that your organization achieves this vision? How often do you assess the impact you are having on this achievement?

Does your organization have a culture that allows you to ask questions such as: Does this new initiative align with our vision?

In Hoshin Planning , there is a term known as "catchball." Catchball is a top-down, bottom-up communication and negotiating process where the collective wisdom of an organization is gathered to develop a focused plan that aligns the entire organization to achieve its vision. When done successfully, this process improves outcomes, saves resources (capital, human, etc.) and improves morale as individuals, teams, departments, etc., know exactly how they are contributing to the end goal.

Successful healthcare organizations ensure that the "alignment of the entire organization" truly means that every individual's role within the organization is defined, specific, measurable, action-oriented, attainable, realistic, timely, understood (by the individual and the organization) and aligned with the key critical initiatives required to achieve the organization's vision ["SMART" goals plus]. This is absolutely critical and yet it is not enough in healthcare.

Truly successful healthcare organizations also must have a culture (a container) where all organization members feel safe, empowered and are expected to raise concerns regarding areas of focus, initiatives and projects that appear to be misaligned with the organization's vision. Members need to not only be safe, but praised and recognized for the courage and commitment to do so. And yet this is still not enough in healthcare.

These same people must also feel safe, empowered and expected to raise concerns with the vision of the healthcare organization itself. Working in healthcare, we all have made a commitment--a commitment to the greater good and to helping to position individuals and communities for true healing.

Is your healthcare organization's vision in line with a greater good?

If so, you can use wonderful "off-the-shelf" tools and processes to create amazing aligned, focused and engaging plans and measure and share the impact.

If not, it's time to re-engage your organization and re-establish an aligned vision. If your organization's vision is not aligned with a commitment to a greater good, you're wasting limited time and resources and not honoring your organization's key commitment. (Take heed: You also have an obligation to do so.)

We have great opportunity to significantly improve healthcare in America. And by choosing to work in healthcare, we also have taken on a commitment to a greater good. Time is short, as people and communities are not being served--and in some cases are being harmed.

Truly successful healthcare organizations that are honoring their commitment to the greater good will integrate all the above.

Thomas H. Dahlborg, M.S.M., is executive director of the physician practice True North Health Center , where he focuses on improving growth while ensuring access for the uninsured and the elderly. He has 21 years of experience creating competitive advantages, analyzing customer expectations, and developing and implementing focused and aligned strategic deployment plans. Formerly he served as the chief business strategy officer at Network Health, a comprehensive Medicaid health plan based in Cambridge, Mass.; and was COO of the U.S. Family Health Plan at Martin's Point Health Care in Portland, Maine.

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