Read the following scenario about Kaiser Permanente’s Innovations Consultancy section from Ch. 12, “The Effective Change Manager: What Does It Take?,” of Managing Organizational Change: A Multiple Perspectives Approach:
Scenario: Kaiser Permanente’s Innovations Consultancy
Lew McCreary (2010) describes how Kaiser Permanente, a managed care consortium based in Oakland, California, has developed a novel approach to innovation and improvement. The company set up its own internal Innovation Consultancy unit. This unit employs change experts to observe people, ask them how they feel about their work, take notes and photographs, make drawings, and identify better ways of doing things. This involves, McCreary (p. 92) suggests, “a combination of anthropology, journalism, and empathy,” exploring how staff and patients live, work, think, and feel before trying to solve a problem.
A key part of the approach involves “uncovering the untold story”—finding out “what is really going on here?” For example, to prevent nurses being interrupted during medication rounds, and thus to reduce errors, a “deep dive” event was held, including nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and patients. The event generated around 400 ideas, some straightforward and some “outlandish.” This led to the design of a smock that said “leave me alone” on it (known as “no-interruption wear”) and a five-step process for ensuring the correct dispensing of medication.
Another example concerned the exchange of patient information between nursing shifts. This used to take 45 minutes, and delayed the next shift’s contact with patients. In addition, nurses would compile and exchange information in idiosyncratic ways, potentially missing important details. The revised Nurse Knowledge Exchange is faster and more reliable, with new software and with information presented in standard formats.
Members of the Information Consultancy unit do not dictate the changes that are to be made, but work with staff as “co-designers” on change projects. This approach allows Kaiser Permanente to achieve the aim of implementing innovation and change quickly and economically.
Write a 525- to 700-word paper in which you:
Identify processes, work units, interdepartmental committees, etc., within an organizational structure that are being evaluated by the Consultancy in order to promote a proactive approach toward change.
Discuss what barriers you perceive existed within the segments of the consortium that hindered change prior to the innovative and improvement approach that waslaunched.
Incorporate the underlying skill sets discussed in the case study. Draw upon your readings in Ch.12, “The Effective Change Manager: What Does It Take?”
Management of innovation and improvement changes in organizations is an effective way of creating productive organizations in the healthcare sector. Kaiser Permanente’s Innovations Consultancy is a classical model of practical innovation and improvement program in a healthcare organization. The model is a masterpiece of change management that engages all members of an organization to address challenges, and improve processes for improved performance outcomes. Kaiser Permanente’s consultancy project has various aspects that inform its success, but the most important are the processes, work units, and interdepartmental committees being evaluated to support a proactive approach to change, and the barriers that hindered change before the innovative and improvement strategy.
Various processes, work units, and interdepartmental committees are being evaluated by the Consultancy to promote a proactive approach toward change. The Consultancy evaluated work processes, such as medication to prevent errors, and nurse handoff or handover, which is the change in shift and transfer of patient information from one nursing staff to another. The assessment was meant to prevent medication errors and insufficient flow of information during handovers. The evaluation include nurses, individuals, and teams, as well as interdisciplinary teams, including doctors, and pharmacists, who work together to support patient care and improve performance outcomes (Palmer, Dunford, & Akin, 2009). As a result, the evaluation process affected work units, such as nursing units, pharmacy, and medical units. The team would establish whether the units and individuals work collaboratively to improve the quality and safety of care provided to patients. The evaluation also focused on interdepartmental committees, whose members come together to share ideas, exchange views and information to improve the hospital (Palmer, Dunford, & Akin, 2009). The Consultancy was interested in knowing whether the committees are effectively used to generate ideas and to provide practical recommendations to the Consultancy.
The Kaiser Permanente experienced various barriers within the segments of the consortium that hindered change before the innovative and improvement approach. One of the barriers was the lack of cooperation and collaboration, which affected different care providers and work units, thus afffecting work, and hindered quality and safety outcomes. For example, doctors and pharmacists interrupted nurses while administering medicine, which increased the risk of errors. Fidel, Schlesinger, and Cervera (2015) affirm that lack of collaboration affects innovation and change since employees fail to work together to implement change. Another possible barrier was the lack of proper sharing of information between the different care providers. Information, opinions, and ideas of employees help to implement change (Palmer, Dunford, & Akin, 2009). The lack of an effective system to support information sharing and the use of idiosyncratic ways could have hindered change. Thus, change is impossible if the breakdown of information exists in the organization. Finally, resistance to change might have derailed change and innovation before the consortium. The consultancy group would be useful by addressing the barriers.
The Innovations Consultancy is a timely change at Kaiser Permanente to address the underlying challenges and improve work processes and interdepartmental operations at the organization. The most crucial step is to evaluate processes, work units, interdisciplinary teams, and interdepartmental committees to identify the areas that require immediate change. The team should also address underlying challenges and barriers, such as ineffective information sharing, resistance, and lack of collaboration, to improve innovation and implement change. The success of an innovation and improvement change process depends on the ability to identify the key stakeholders and addressing potential barriers.
Fidel, P., Schlesinger, W., & Cervera, A. (2015). Collaborating to innovate: Effects on customer knowledge management and performance. Journal of Business Research, 68(7), 1426-1428.
Palmer, I., Dunford, R., & Akin, G. (2009). Managing Organizational Change: A Multiple Perspectives Approach. McGraw-Hill.