By Shirley Ruch, Med, RN, C-LNC, Consultant at Creative Healthcare Management
As I partner with organizations that have been on their Relationship-Based Care (RBC) journey for several years, invariably at some point the big question becomes, “How does my team maintain the exuberance and creativity to continue to deepen and also sustain our cultural transformation?”
How Do You Keep the Inspiration and Energy for Change from Fading?
Reflecting on this challenge, I realized that my career has been filled with experiences such as attending inspiring conferences or educational sessions, becoming re-engaged with my professional purpose and joy in my work, and returning to my workplace full of vim and vigor and passion for change. I begin to implement changes, and then... life happens, and I fall back into old patterns of behavior and practice.
So what is the solution? Is there even an answer to this issue of sustainability? From my experience there appears to be no magic fairy dust that can be sprinkled uniformly for all organizations. At the same time there are some practices that are consistently successful in assisting organizations to deepen their results and to stay the course:
Another Suggestion for Your Success
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention a tool that I’ve found extremely valuable in sustaining changes in organizations. The change management formula found in the book I2E2: Leading Lasting Change does more than I’ve seen in almost 50 years in health care to help keep organizations focused and unified around a common vision. This practical methodology, starting with the development of a collective vision and working the steps of Inspiration, Infrastructure, Education, and Evidence, is key to sustainment. Inspiration unifies and inspires. Infrastructure is of critical importance so that alignment with the vision for care occurs with systems and processes, staffing models, policies and procedures, the care delivery model, job descriptions, performance appraisals and the hardwiring of Unit/Department Practice Councils and a Results Council. Education about the vision for the new culture helps get teams focused. Evidence that the change is working continues to Inspire, which begins the continuous cycle of I2E2 again. If you follow the I2E2 formula, don’t skip any steps, don’t rush through the experience, and understand that it is an ongoing journey you’re on (not a sprint to a defined finish line), you will be on track to sustain your changes.
These are just a sampling of tried and true sustainment strategies, and I invite others to share their ideas and successes.
As a consultant at Creative Health Care Management, Shirley guides health care organizations through major events such as redesigning roles and processes, remodeling care delivery systems, focusing on collaborative practice, improving teamwork, and driving cultural change. Shirley has more than 45 years of experience in health care. She has held staff, leadership, consultant, educator, facilitator, public health, and research roles in both inpatient and outpatient settings, in roles as diverse as AVP, CNO, CQIO, ADON, director, and house supervisor.
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