Written by: Bruce Knapp, Principal, Healthcare
Today’s world is moving faster than ever and is full of uncertainty. Healthcare systems and facilities across the globe have been tested and brought to the brink of collapse within the last year and will likely continue to be challenged as we move through the COVID pandemic. As we grapple with the rapid changes required to keep up with a coronavirus that’s mutating faster than we can keep up with, we know that healthcare design will need to adapt along with the outcomes and help prepare us for possible future pandemics.
The ways in which we design facilities moving forward and retrofit existing ones will require new ways of thinking, new tools, new processes, and new approaches.
Before we charge forward, we should ask ourselves: what lessons have we learned? What do we know that makes the best use of our time and resources? How can we respond strategically?
Slowing down is a power move…so too is taking your time to figure out how to respond and slowing down your decision-making process in high-pressure moments. – Amy Cuddy
Taking stock to move forward
Periods of change and transition are the most opportune times to be honest about what’s working and what’s not. Rather than simply employing the same mindsets and approaches we always have; we can use them as opportunities to revisit our thinking and processes to see if they even make sense anymore. This is where a Keep/Toss/Create exercise can really come in handy.
What should we hang onto? What can we throw away?
What of those things can inform something new that we haven’t tried before?
Change isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be very difficult to motivate change in large organizations, particularly complex ones such as healthcare institutions with multiple stakeholders representing conflicting needs and desired outcomes. As designers, it’s our job with a view outside of the organization, to understand the bigger picture. When we get the right people at the table to explore all aspects of the Keep/Toss/Create dilemma, we can co-create solutions that build consensus around a shared vision and are more likely to be implementable and effective in the long run.
Deciding what to keep
To begin to uncover what to keep when we’re looking to make necessary changes, we need to get to the root of who our client is and why they do what they do. In fact, all aspects of the Keep/Toss/Create equation boil down to the same thing – when we know the WHY behind what we’re doing, we can use that as a litmus test to determine what stays and what goes. For instance, if we want to know what to keep from an existing workplace environment to transfer to a new one, we should talk to the people who are actually doing the work. The things we keep are the things that serve the organization on multiple levels, including what’s most efficient, what makes more economic sense and most importantly: what works for the majority of people involved. What do we need to keep to create a design solution that puts the end user first?
Tossing what no longer works
We also want to be open to having uncomfortable conversations about what outdated thoughts are being held onto and whether they should really make the “keep” list. We may think something is working but when we dive deep, we might find that what we’ve believed to be true is holding us back from moving forward. We want to challenge ideas and assumptions and together, toss what doesn’t create action in an organization or inspire people to contribute to a common vision and goals. When our clients find themselves at a crisis point, the best thing we can do together is throw away outdated assumptions and invite new ways of thinking. What can we let go of to get everyone working toward a shared vision?
Creating a pathway to the future
Now that we’ve kept what works and tossed what doesn’t, we can begin to unravel the elements that lead to true change – the actions an organization can take to inspire evolution. Before we can do that, together we’ll need to explore what an organization is ready for – what’s in the realm of possibilities when it comes to change and what type of change can inspire ongoing action and results? We want to inspire change that sticks and that leads to an ongoing path to a desired future. What can we do to inspire the change that’s needed – both immediately and through incremental steps
Now more than ever, it’s important to bring the right people together on the change management journey. By helping to frame the conversations that allow healthcare organizations to move forward confidently, we can co-create solutions that are implementable and lead to ongoing success.
Together with our clients, we can help create new models of care that speak to an organization’s “why” and reflect the changes we need to better support individuals, families, caregivers and communities in a world defined by change and uncertainty.