Last month, when I was at Franciscan Health in Indianapolis for the “Kaizen Live!” site visit and event there, one phrase really stood out at me as a new development in their approach and culture… or maybe it wasn't new and it just jumped out at me this time.
Whatever words we use, this is often viewed as somewhat negative. Identifying waste or a problem might seem finding fault and that sometimes makes people uncomfortable (although I think that the identification of problems is an inherently optimistic endeavor, because I believe things can be made better).
At Franciscan, they solve a lot problems. They eliminate a lot of waste through Kaizen. They try to engage everybody in improvement. And there's often real joy in that.
But, if solving problems is the only focus, we might miss some opportunities. Can we choose to make things better? Can we identify unmet needs for patients, families, visitors (and staff)?
The phrase I heard a lot was:
“How might we?”
It's a powerful phrase, used in one of two ways.
First, the question asks for ways to push performance in a positive direction. We might be meeting a goal or target for performance, but we could ask, “How might we make patients and families happier with their time here at the hospital?”
How might we delight and surprise people?
Secondly, the phrase can be used as a bit of “can do” spirit when faced with a problem to solve or an opportunity to make things better.
Instead of saying, “Here's why we can't do _________,” we can instead ask “How might we _________?”
Our attendees really took to that phrase.
How might we transform healthcare?
How might we reach zero preventable harm?
How might we create a better workplace culture that results in lower staff turnover and better patient satisfaction and outcomes?
How might we climb that mountain?
I think it's a great phrase… what's your reaction?
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