Legendary football coach, Bill Belichick, sums up the first element of successful change implementation with his quote, “On a team, it’s not the strength of the individual players, but it is the strength of the unit and how they all function together.” No matter how extraordinary your individual skills may be, you cannot enact change and reach new goals in a vacuum. Change takes teamwork. Philips refers to these teams as ‘workgroups’, since they are truly groups that work in close consultation to realize dramatic outcomes. The most effective workgroups include stakeholders from all levels within the organization – frontline staff, department leaders, decision makers (from potentially impacted departments), and an executive sponsor. While this seems an elementary concept, it is surprising to discover how many projects fail due to a lack of frontline staff inclusion at the outset. When forming your team, consider the ripple effect as well. Who will be impacted? On the flipside, refrain from including too many in the brainstorming sessions, as leading a large group to an agreed upon action plan can be difficult. Strike this balance well and you are on your way to a winning strategy!
You may also consider talking to individuals who are most likely to be a barrier to reaching the target. Speak to them privately, review the objective, get their thoughts on the goal, and express to them the importance of achieving that goal. This will help you gain their support and positively influence their understanding of the goal, the direction of the workgroup, and the part they play in a positive outcome.
The success of the initial meeting depends on the method of facilitation. It is important to listen more than speak and to guide the conversation more than lead. It is also vital that the workgroup have a clear understanding of the goal and current problem areas affecting the desired outcome. Guide the group to envision the ideal state from the patient perspective, drawing on available resources. Allocate time to determine action tasks, create sub-workgroups responsible for action follow-up, define deadlines, and agree to rapid cycle tests or go-live dates. Each workgroup member must understand the plan and their associated responsibilities. Ensure that someone is tasked to create an informational plan (and educational plan if necessary), targeting staff who will be impacted by the new process to generate enthusiasm around the upcoming changes.