Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bulletin Board Blues

Yesterday, upon entering the Imagine! administrative building, I noticed landscapers working to provide a more welcoming environment for our visitors.

This gave me reason to think back several years on my participation in a Disney Institute training called “Building a Culture of Healthcare Excellence.” Among the quality standards, my notes included thoughts about our settings. As I entered the reception area to our building I found myself on alert; looking over every detail of our environment. And then I spotted a contradiction – the place and moment of first contact.

I know what you are thinking … "Mark! For crying out loud, you have got to be kidding me! Bulletin boards? How could they send a contradictory message?"

Well, they send a contradictory message for several reasons.

First of all, they are located right behind a computer. A machine that provides easy access to almost all of the world’s information ever! What could possibly be pinned to a bulletin board that is going to have that same capability? Yes, the bulletin board may hold Imagine!-specific information, but the computer can easily be set up to have that same information available to anyone accessing the computer (it is there for our visitors to use) with a click of a mouse or a tap of a keyboard.

Secondly, bulletin boards have a tendency to fill up quickly, with one flyer hung up over another regulatory notice hung up over a “For Rent” notice with tear off tabs. They get cluttered and then become worthless. It reminds me of going to government offices – invariably the waiting area in any government office will contain a bulletin board so chock full of items that I can’t imagine that the information is current or would be of any use to anyone. We strive to keep our waiting area (and all work spaces at Imagine!) inviting and clutter free, and bulletin boards tend to be the opposite of that.

Finally, at Imagine!, we are very interested in a “technology first” approach. We see technology as a way to enhance and improve almost everything we do, from operations to service delivery. And we don’t take that approach because we are always attracted to the shiny new thing, we do it because it is absolutely vital. An ever increasing need for services like ours, coupled with a small and shrinking workforce available to provide those services, means using technology in everything we do isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity.

So now you may be thinking, “OK, the bulletin board is contradictory, but so what? Why does that matter?”

That’s where my Disney Institute Training comes in. A key takeaway I received from attending the training was that it takes just one contradiction, one out of place stimulus, to negate the experience for end users. Now, Disney sells an experience, and they don’t want that experience ruined by incongruity – they don’t want guest to see Cinderella smoking a cigarette.

We do much more than offer an experience at Imagine!. We provide services for family members and loved ones – brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins. Those family members and friends want the absolute best available for their loved ones.

 What kind of message does it send, then, if we can’t take care of our own building? If it is messy and cluttered? If our vehicles are dirty and poorly maintained? If the landscaping and lawns at our homes or offices are overgrown and full of weeds?

I’ll tell you what message it sends: that we aren’t even capable of taking care of the easy stuff, the small details. And if we can’t take care of those details, then why on earth would we be capable of caring for a family’s loved one? We must always strive to send the right message. We must attend to details small and large. We must make sure we operate in a manner which aligns the process of services with the interests of the individuals accepting services (and their families). Every detail is important in our work, and we can never lose sight of that. The minute we do, our organization, and all the people we serve, are at risk.

And that is why the bulletin boards will be taken down from our reception area promptly.

Then again, what do I know?

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