Posted July 06, 2017

COACHING MINUTE: 3 Questions to Ask Before Trying Something New

By Jill Ellis, RN, BSN, MHSA

Improving and sustaining results across an organization can be difficult, especially if the organization is a large multi-facility health system. It can be frustrating to spend hours implementing evidence-based practices and not see a return on your investment. In cases like these, it is easy to see how leaders fall prey to the lure of new initiatives that promise quick results. In hospitals around the country, I frequently see leaders gravitate toward what is shiny and new when they aren’t getting the results they want. If what we have tried hasn’t worked well, maybe something new will. But it is important to first consider any opportunities to improve already-implemented practices before deviating from strategic plans and shifting organizational focus to the flavor of the month.

In many cases, we simply need to dig a little deeper into the execution of practices that are already in place or build leadership muscle to improve and hardwire implemented tactics. Before leaders scrap a current practice and initiate something new, I recommend that they ask themselves the following questions to determine the best course of action:

  • Have I communicated the ”why” behind the initiative in as many ways as possible so that all staff understand it and can hardwire the practice?
  • Have I invested enough time into the practice to know if it is working or not?
  • Have I appropriately trained my team so that they are empowered to execute on this initiative effectively?

If leaders answer “no” to any of these questions, they should follow-up with their teams to determine how current practices can be improved and what it will take to hardwire execution across the organization to drive results.

If the answer to all these questions is “yes”, perhaps it is time to chart a new course. But, before implementing the next big thing, be sure to harvest any wins or opportunities for improvement from the previously unsuccessful venture. By understanding what went wrong, leaders can learn from past mistakes and set the organization up for success in the future.


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