Allowing time for open discussion during meetings can solve problems, but it can also lead to epiphanies. Talking through a problem can prompt people to ask questions that lead to sudden bursts of insight. And it is these insights that often provide the motivation for change.
An example: I had created an action plan to change our scripting to address quietness at night, an important HCAHPS measure. The plan includes researching any materials (silent carts versus noisy handheld trays, decibel meters, etc.), researching best practice, scripting, testing the scripting, direct observation during testing, writing a policy, education, and monitoring.
During one meeting, a staff member asked if there is an existing policy, since another department already has a “quiet” program. A discussion followed about this policy, which no one had seen. “There must be a written policy!” said the first staff member. “How does everyone get the same message?”
They don’t, if it isn’t written down.
A big reason people resist change isn’t fear of change itself but that all the effort to learn something new will be wasted. Today’s urgency will fade, the change will be forgotten, and most of the people who ignored it and did less work will be all the wiser. Posters, buttons, slogans, and awards don’t sustain change if expectations aren’t written down.
How often does a Flavor of the Month turn into a policy? Never, if writing one isn’t part of a plan to begin with.
When it happens, a policy is often written first as an incentive to change. “Here’s a new policy. Follow it!” ignores crucial steps in which staff develops an idea, tests it, buys into it, and reaches insight along the way. Once there is consensus that behavior has changed, a policy should be written or revised. Sustaining change is easy, because the policy reflects that change. New hires get the same message as everyone else.
NEXT: Idiot Proofing