Rather have a book, or an e-book?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Manage with Facts & Data, Not Emotion

Everyone who had ever worked with me know that I am a data guy.  If you want to make a case with me, yelling and screaming doesn't work.  I'm immune to that, I won't go into why.  I do understand facts & data.  Track things for awhile, show me the results, and I can make an informed decision.  Over the years, I've seem some fairly sophisticated models developed.  Stacey Wilson was able to develop response time models for ambulances that told us exactly where to place substations to cut response time.  Using emotion, every small community wants their own ambulance, but if that's not where the calls are coming from, you don't get the results you are looking for.  Using Stacey's work on Demand Analysis, I just did a similar analysis on environmental services.

The analysis starts with collection of data for 6 months by hour of day.  Excel spreadsheet is the best way to tabulate and display the data.  The red line shows the staffing overlaid on the peak demand for bed cleaning.  Have you ever heard that a picture is worth a thousand words?  For years, we have noted a problem at 3pm with shift change.  As it turns out, the picture shows that we are in our peak of turning over beds, but our staffing drops off for shift change.

The next step is to model using the blue dashed line what the ideal staffing would look like.  We still want to have people available early for morning cleaning, but we need to extend the shifts until later in the day.  The spreadsheet allows us to tell how many hours we have to add to get the resulting change and at what cost. 

From there, it's all about choices.  The case is clear.  Do we want to make the choice to spend extra funds to be more efficient with our staffing, or not.  This is the way of healthcare today.  I believe that the leader who knows how to present facts and data will have an edge on the leader who goes in and just says, "Look, I need this, or people will die."  People who continually make grandiose threats lack credibility because that's what they have always done.  The only tool they have is a hammer and all their problems are nails!

From an earlier blog, I put in a control chart.  You can buy a statistical program to produce control charts, but more importantly, you need to understand that concept that a process in control will remain in control unless acted upon by an outside force.  In this example you see a process that has been changed.  If you do simple run charts with your data, you can imagine control lines.  You can be assured that your in control process is not going to change until you make a change.  Remember:  Every process is perfectly designed to produce the results that it produces.

As a leader you deal with a budget and have finite resources.  Just about everyone who approaches you has an opinion about how to spend the organization's money.  We need new vehicles to do this, two new people to do that, a 3% raise, a new computer system to do this.  I find it easier to deal with these requests to ask for the facts and data and to be transparent about the requests versus the resources.  In talking to staff members, I think a lot of them are clueless about the business side of the organization.

I remember the first time I started sharing the monthly financials with my team.  I started to see lightbulbs come on as people realized how tight we were operating according to budget.  At that time I was operating ambulance services.  I talked about the impact of the crews talking a patient out of being transported.  No transport = no revenue.  Our no transport volume began to decrease.  I believe that transparency of operations with the team is important.  It is good for people to understand the costs of operations.  Even simple things like the fact that full time employee benefits are worth an additional 25% on top of their hourly rate are good concepts for people to understand. 

I realize that not everyone is into facts & data like me.  I know that I have to be careful of what I say or I will stomp on people's emotions.  When it comes to business decisions though, the leader must not be blind to the relevant facts & data because they represent a point of stability.  Emotions are all over the board and opinions are as numerous as your team members.

Subscribe to Brent Lemonds' Healthcare Management Blog

No comments:

Post a Comment