Forgive me, but I have always struggled with the “burning platform” tactic as the catalyst for change in an organization. Why would we choose a fear based, we “must run away from” mental model as an inspirational message for our front line employees?
Not long ago, I overheard a leader comment that they needed a burning platform to initiate a cultural change. Really? For those of you who know me, you can guess my response. I suggested that we go to gemba where we might find more “burning platforms” (opportunities) than we could count.
We do not need to look far or long in most any healthcare organization today to readily find plenty of stress, confusion, politics, broken processes and overworked staff at every level of the organization. We do not need to instill fear; it’s already there. We do not need to ensure that we “run away from”; there is plenty of that already. We do not need to tell our employees that if “we don’t do this, we will not survive”; they are barely surviving as it is.
What we do need to do is be honest and transparent about all that is broken; i.e. the terrible processes, policies, politics and roadblocks that hinder our employees each day. We need to demand standards, first of ourselves, in how we lead and improve each day. We must consistently stop, reflect and learn. We must leave our conference rooms and lead from the front i.e. in the gemba. We must champion continuous experimentation to improve on behalf of our patients.
We don’t need to find any more burning platforms. We need to honestly acknowledge and make visible the ones we already have. We need to lead with an inspirational vision of waste free, best practice, highly reliable processes created by our front line employees on behalf of our patients.