Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dazzling with smart and friendly systems

You can dazzle the people you serve with smart and friendly systems.

Every organization has systems, the way they do things. Some of these patterns are smart, some are dumb, some cause frustration and some are friendly.

Recently my wife, an RN started a new job on a mental health unit of a local hospital. The general hospital orientation was smart and friendly. She came home singing the praises of the hospital. Those doing the orientation were positive about the hospital and she was excited about working there.

But once she started on the unit her orientation was brief and inadequate. The hospital uses an antiquated computer system and she was given almost no training on the computer system. One of her first shifts after the unit orientation she struggled by trial and error to discover how to do an admission on the computer.

Her shift supervisor, overwhelmed by an influx of patients, barked at her for taking too long on the computer. Orientation to the computer system was neither smart nor friendly.

Nonprofit organizations thrive or die on the systems they set up for getting things done in the process of caring for the people who arrive in desperation and hope at their door. Smart and friendly systems are one of the 7 paths thriving organizations use.

Shriveling organizations are stuck in the attitude that “this is the way we’ve always done it.”

Thriving organizations are “always looking for ways to make our systems smart and friendly.”

Here are four behaviors that are common to an organization that use the smart and friendly systems path as part of their strategy for thriving:

  1. They treat complaints from service recipients as opportunities to develop smarter, friendlier systems.
  2. They constantly looking for ways to make policies and ways of doing things smarter and friendlier.
  3. Everyone in the organization knows the process to use to make systems smarter and friendlier.
  4. Like farmers who practice crop rotation, their leaders recognize that as internal organizational reality shifts, systems need to shift.

Here are three results organizations can expect when they use the smart and friendly systems path:

  1. Service recipients see organization as smart and friendly as they use services.
  2. Staff workers are empowered to make changes in the systems in order to transform the lives of service recipients.
  3. Staff workers see organization as smart and friendly place to work.

In the fall of 2005 when I was hospitalized in the Illinois Valley Community Hospital for pneumonia I was dazzled by the smart and friendly food service system the hospital used.

I have a disability and have spent my share of the time in hospitals. I know “the food” is the most common complaint about hospitals.

Basically IVCH adapted hotel room service model. I was given a menu that contained breakfast, lunch and dinner items. When I called in my order I was told what the specials were for that meal.

Since I love fruits and vegetables, I ordered meals that included five fruits and vegetables.

Not only could I order each meal I could tell them within ten minutes when I wanted the meal delivered and that’s when it arrived.


You can dazzle the people you serve with smart and friendly systems.