Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Analyze This

Last week, I was listening to a Harvard Business Review “IdeaCast” featuring Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of “No One Understands You and What to Do About It.

In a discussion about New Year’s resolutions, Halvorson points out that when people make resolutions, they tend to think abstractly and set goals that are very difficult to measure, such as “I will exercise more.” Halvorson notes that studies indicate people are much more successful when the resolutions are much more concrete, such as “I will walk 10,000 steps every day.”

As is often the case with these HBR podcasts, I came away with some ideas relating to the work we do at Imagine! and in the field of serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

In my experience, the I/DD service world is filled with abstract, not measurable, goals. That isn’t surprising. At the risk of stereotyping, our chosen profession doesn’t tend to attract too many analytical types – people who enjoy perusing spreadsheets or identifying and tracking easily quantifiable outcomes. I know we struggle with this at Imagine!.

But when it comes to designing (or redesigning) the system of how we fund and deliver services, we need those analytical types. And considering how far Colorado has already moved toward system redesign without this kind of rigorous analysis and the setting of measurable outcomes, we’re at a time when that sort of disciplined analysis and goal setting couldn’t be more relevant.

We’re far too reliant right now on simply responding to issues when they arise. There’s no real commitment to taking an analytical and methodical approach in determining and measuring the outcomes we desire. We need to develop a mindset aimed at creating measurable goals before we are forced to react. If you can measure it, it is a lot easier (and defendable) to change paths when one course of action doesn’t get us to our goal.

Otherwise, we can (and likely will) find ourselves in a never ending cycle of reacting and changing based on what is happening around us, instead of directing the action so that what happens around us is what we want and expect.

Then again, what do I know?