Why is Asking so Hard?

Why are we not getting the results we want?  I don’t’ know, we’d have to go and ask…

What is it that our patients really want?   Don’t know, maybe we should ask them directly…

Why does this problem keep coming up?  Not sure if anyone really knows, we need to go see and ask some questions…

You know that I could go on.  We have more problems than we know what do to with in healthcare.  And so many of them are reoccurring both within and across organizations.  Those of you who have been in this sector for a while are well aware of our repetitive challenges (opportunities!).

I understand standards, standard processes, standard work, PDSA, flow, etc, etc.  I actually think this is the principle that is easiest to understand: i.e. continuous improvement.  The tough work seems to be with the other principle: respect for people.  I am referring to  “going to the gemba” to ask questions of those who really know the answers.

I am not proposing that there is an intentional disrespect. I am proposing that leaders fundamentally don’t have an awareness of the power of seeing the actual work being done by your own employees with your actual patients and business partners.  I am proposing that all you have to do is go see and ask simple questions about the processes that are creating the barriers to care and service.   Simply ask the front line employees what ideas they might have for improving the broken processes.

Not sure why this is so hard, but once your start doing it, stand back and watch the magic…


2 thoughts on “Why is Asking so Hard?

  1. Karl
    I greatly appreciate your reflections. Still trying to learn this by doing. And continue to experience the challenge when we lose sight of the need to evaluate improvement work, prioritize and challenge ourselves to plan demand/capacity and say no or “if we want to do x, we need to delay y”….and listen to the teams through gembas.

    Our teams continue to work at this and it takes continuous discipline and leaders together on this path. Thanks for the nudge and questions.

    1. Susie, Thanks for the comment – it is absolutely “listen to the teams through gembas.” Well stated. – Karl

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