Ontario healthcare musings

I just came back from an event with Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews. It was a great event with a Q&A format, that encouraged some discussion. Here are some musings about Ontario’s health care system:

  • There is a great organization called Rise Asset Managment that helps people with mental health issues get mentoring and start new businesses.
  • Minister Matthews plan of the “right care at the right time in the right place” is a simple way of stating a very complex issue. It is the right plan.
  • There are great initiatives being embarked upon by healthcare providers around the issue of engaging patients. Some of the stories and impacts were amazing.
  • Most providers are recognizing the need to bring patients into major decisions, including the construction of new buildings and department layouts.
  • Industry suppliers are being left out of the conversation somewhat. We need to find a way to leverage their experiences in other provinces and organizations, without affording an advantage when trying to win business. Is that even possible or desirable?
  • We have finally passed the tipping point and realized that healthcare needs to adopt some basic business principles. Dealing with patient issues well creates more loyalty and a better experience. Asking the customer (patient) to be engaged in strategic decisions improves performance. Looking at new innovations can save lives. Reviewing internal operations can increase effectiveness. Aligning strategy and tactics and communicating that effectively improves performance. It’s all about operational excellence.
  • We have patient navigators at some hospitals, but who will navigate the patient through their whole spectrum of care, both inside and outside the hospital? If the answer is the patient, then let’s develop tools to help patients do that.
  • Communication can be a big issue for patients who don’t speak English or French. Why doesn’t every hospital have translators on site or available, either through a central service or through volunteers?

A simple process for any initiative

For any initiative that you are embarking upon, here is a simple process to help make you successful:

  1. Identify the key stakeholders – those most impacted by the initiative.
  2. Engage those stakeholders and show them the value of the initiative – show them why it’s in their interests to support it. I call this the “What’s in it for me?” principle.
  3. Develop a plan for implementing the initiative – what tactics are required to make it happen and who will be accountable for success?
  4. Determine the right metrics for success – what will success looks like?
  5. Execute on the plan and review the success measures.

As you can see, the formula for implementing a new initiative is not that complicated. Are you using a process that is more complex than it needs to be?

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – October 28, 2013
The talk of Toronto these days is how well the Toronto Maple Leafs have started out the new hockey season. As of this writing, they were 8-4 and tied for first in the conference. However, Leaf fans being as critical as they are, the fact that the Leafs have been out shot by their opponents in most games has become a hot topic. People believe that the strong play of the Leafs can’t be sustained if the other team consistently gets more shots.
 
My simple question is, “Why?” If the Leafs are getting better quality shots and scoring chances than their opponents, why does the number of shots matter? People still hold the mentality that if you throw enough pucks at the net, maybe you’ll catch a break. This is sometimes true, but it’s the exception. Most goals are scored as a result of a quality scoring chance, not merely having a high volume of shots. Maybe we are measuring the wrong statistic.
 
Think about this in the context of your organization. Is it the number of opportunities you have or the quality of those opportunities? When you stratify your customer base, you focus on those opportunities that have the best growth potential and have the best fit for your organization. It’s about the quality of the opportunities, not the volume of them. Isn’t it better to have five high quality leads than 20 low quality ones?
 
“Too many organizations focus on every opportunity and give them all the same amount of attention,” says Andrew Miller. “The most successful organizations focus their efforts and resources on the best opportunities with the best prospective customers.”
 
Let’s hope the Leafs can continue to focus on the quality of their scoring chances and capitalize on them.
To request an interview or more information, please contact:
 
Andrew Miller
416-480-1336
 
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2013.

Playing the Blame Game

Why is it the default position for so many people to blame others when something goes wrong? What’s wrong with taking accountability for something?

Reading about the healthcare.gov website in the US made me think about this. While CGI was being put through the ringer by US Congress yesterday, one of the congressman asked for a simple apology. “A simple ‘I’m sorry’ would be fine.” But it never came.

I’m not saying CGI is fully to blame, and they certainly won’t say that, but why is “I’m sorry” such tough words for people to say? Because our pride gets in the way. No one wants to admit that they made a mistake. For some reason, we have a culture where making a mistake is frowned upon and reputations can be ruined because of it.

I think that’s bull. Reputations get ruined by how you handle situations, not the situations themselves. People get judged on how they handle failure, not the failure itself.

The best companies in the world deal with failure all the time because they are always trying new products and services and pushing the envelope. They embrace failure, so they can see what comes from it.

Stop worrying about failing and start focusing on how you handle failure, because failure is inevitable.

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – October 21, 2013
We are always talking about being more efficient. At work. At home. At school. Efficiency and productivity are words that we throw around often. When we try to be more efficient we look at less labour intensive ways of doing things. We email instead of picking up the phone. We pick up the phone instead of making an in-person visit. We send automated messages instead of responding to someone. We skim the article instead of reading the whole thing. We plan our errands around stores that are located close to each other.
 
But I often wonder if our pursuit of efficiency sabotages our ability to be effective. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it does. The world is so fast-paced that we are always looking for short cuts. These short cuts makes us more efficient, but not necessarily more effective.
 
How many times have you sent an email which led to a long trail of emails and a great deal of time spent, when a quick phone call would have resolved the issue? How often have you misinterpreted the tone of someone else’s written communication? What about not communicating at all because you believe it’s not worth the effort? How many opportunities have you lost because you have been pursuing efficiency and speed, not effectiveness?
 
I always tell my clients that they are better off focusing on a smaller number of good prospects and customers than treating every potential customer as equal.  This is the perspective we need for every aspect of our lives. Efficiency doesn’t mean that you are doing what is right, it just means that you are able to do whatever you’re doing faster.
 
Are you pursuing efficiency at the expense of effectiveness?
To request an interview or more information, please contact:
 
Andrew Miller
416-480-1336
 
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2013.

Is the sky really falling in the US?

We are now in Day whatever of the closure of the US government and we are in full blame game mode. It’s everyone else’s fault why this is happening and the doomsday advisers are circling like vultures. People are actually saying that if the shutdown lasts long enough, it will lead to a Depression. Are you kidding me? Do we really believe, as selfish and childish as the US politicians are right now, that they would let the economy fall into a depression?

I have colleagues pulling all of their money out of the stock market for fear of a crash. I know others who are already concerned about the impact on their businesses. This all seems premature to me. I’m all for preparation, but the US economy fuels most of the other world economies. The US knows this and I can’t believe that they would let it get that far. If it does, it will be on the backs of the worst group of Democrats and Republicans the US has ever seen. The fact that we are even discussing this is embarrassing enough that they should all quit their jobs.

All over healthcare legislation that was passed over a year ago. Talk about waiting until the last minutes to take a stand.

The strange irony is that I don’t even want to be writing about this. But I feel compelled to say something about a bunch of spoiled politicians who use the lives of their constituents like little pawns in the game where the winner is able to grasp as much power as they can.

 

Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – October 15, 2013
As you may have noticed, I have sent this week’s Monday Morning Message on a Tuesday. This was not an accident. This week I wanted to make a point about meeting expectations. I don’t expect that all of you were disappointed when you didn’t receive this message yesterday, but I did receive a few emails asking why people didn’t receive it. People expect it to come on Monday because that is the expectation that I have set. I send this message every Monday morning. So when I don’t meet that expectation, some people notice.
 
I see many organizations set expectations and then not meet them. Those same organizations then wonder why they have low customer loyalty and are losing market share to the competition. Your customers notice when you don’t meet expectations. They don’t expect you to exceed expectations, but they certainly expect you to meet the expectations that you set, so make sure you can do as least that.
 
What expectations are you setting for customers that you aren’t fulfilling?
To request an interview or more information, please contact:
 
Andrew Miller
416-480-1336
 
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2013.

US Government, as embarrassing as it gets?

Now that the talk of a US government shutdown is hopefully over as they work out a deal to keep the country running, let’s briefly dissect this.

This is a government where one party is trying to use the shutdown of government as leverage? Where one person can have the floor for 21 hours to tear down a program that is supposed to help people get better medical care? Where neither party is willing to give even an inch to compromise and realize how silly they both look?

Is this really what government has become? It’s like a bunch of kindergarten kids fighting over the building blocks. This experience, as a Canadian watching from the outside, is a joke. If you didn’t think before that politicians were clueless and self-absorbed, you now have undeniable proof. These people were talking to themselves. Did they really think the public was listening or cared? They were self-absorbed, delusional, and selfish. There’s no two ways about it.

Both parties should be embarrassed about this whole situation and everyone comes off looking terribly. No wonder some of our great minds don’t want to go into government. It’s a farce. I would love it if someone came forward and apologized to the general public. Like maybe the President. “Folks, I’m sorry about what we have become. This whole situation shows how out of touch with reality politicians have become and as commander-in-chief, I am going to do something about it. We should all be embarrassed about how this played out.”

I’ll hold my breath until that happens…..still holding.