Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Defining What "Matters"

Creating focus can be challenging. I am a firm believer in goals (lots of Zig Ziglar growing up) but sometimes defining those goals is just as hard as achieving them. We may create a visionary goal, but not understand the detail to make it achievable. Many times our inability to identify what “matters” leads to failure, and our lack of understanding of the information produced creates a foggy understanding of success. That’s why it’s critical to be able to break things down into digestible chunks so we can quantify the achievement (or failure) towards our goals.

My six-year old struggles with spelling – if you have read my blog long, you know it’s genetic. In September his third spelling test score was a D. As soon as I saw that paper, I emailed the teacher to request a conference. The teacher explained that they had 20 words and 10 phonics per week, and the importance of good penmanship. (All I heard was 20+10= 30 items per week to learn!)

That information in hand, I devised a plan of action for home study. The plan was simple break down the materials into daily digestible goals. The next week we hit the ground running. We practiced daily, and he got a D+. To me, this indicated failure of the plan, not the child. We reviewed the goals, made an adjustment to the plan, and the following week he got a C+ then a B. Last week, I am pleased to announce, he had his first A, missing only 1 word!

The reason I am reviewing 1st grade spelling tests is because had I waited for the grade card, my baby would have had a D or F on his grade card. (The C he got broke my heart.) Using indicators, in this case the spelling test, to shine light on a potential problem we were able to thwart a hard to recover disaster of a bad grade card.

Hospitals are faced with a number of challenges – one of which is alarm fatigue. Alarm fatigue is a multi-faceted problem that encompasses everything from noise, to acuity mix, staffing and so much more. If you try to tackle the problem by saying "REDUCE ALARM FATIGUE" that solution is foggy at best.  However, if you look at the issue pragmatically then you can identify the multiple layers each with a “spelling test" indicator. Just like the spelling test above the solution lies in breaking down the problem into digestible chunks and refining those goals based on the outcome of the result.

Shamelss Plug - Our Scorecard is a tool – something that can be used like a spelling test – that along with daily goals and observation could solve the problem. The quarterly trend is much like a grade card. If you wait for the grade card to correct course – then you may be too late.
My advice for today – look at everything as a solvable problem. When the problem is too big – break it down as many times as it takes to become understandable and digestible.

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Kourtney Govro