Ali Girard

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#ChangeHappens: Insights from a Hospital Redevelopment Project

Last week Jennifer Hamilton and Matthew Friesen from the BC Children’s and BC Women’s Hospital Redevelopment Project spoke to a group of IABC/BC members about how their change team and their internal communications team are working together to successfully implement a large change within their healthcare organization. It was essentially my dream event: change management, communications, and healthcare came together with a side of tea sandwiches.

There was a lot to learn from these two, but I’ve narrowed down to my top three takeaways here for you:

1. Follow the rule of thirds

Projects are constantly facing the “over-promise, under-deliver” problem. They start off with a grand vision of the future, shared by a committed leader and/or fresh-faced project team. By the time you work through all the organizational and technical complications, you can end up with something that is mostly better for a large number of people, worse for a small number of people, and surrounded by a bunch of frustrated people.

Matt recommends avoiding this by integrating the rule of thirds into your project communications: 1/3 of things will be better, 1/3 will be roughly the same, and 1/3 will be worse. I like this approach, because it allows you to be honest with your stakeholders and avoid the eye-roll you may encounter with the “grand project vision”. There’s no point in ignoring the fact that change brings pain and frustration with it. Acknowledge it, allow people to air their frustrations up front, and avoid trying to dismantle a bomb at the end of your project.

2. Change literate leadership benefits projects

The project team Jennifer and Matt work on has two change management resources and three internal communicators. How did they get that resourcing? Change literate leadership.

Historical project failures haunted the memories of leaders in their organization and enabled them to steel their resolve to manage the change the right way this time. Not only is the project adequately resourced to support people change, they have had every project manager and clinical lead Prosci certified, and continue to ensure that the project team are never the ones on the podium. Change literate leadership has lead to informed multiple change decisions that have started this multi-year project off the right way.

3. Change management should inform project design

This team has done one of the most interesting stakeholder engagement activities I have ever seen: they built life-sized replicas of each proposed floor plan out of cardboard and shuttled staff, clinicians and patients to them to “test drive” the floors. Watch this video to see how it went over.

Having a strong change management presence on the project team allowed them to step out of the “the experts know best” box and have their stakeholders – the true experts – inform the design of the space they would experience daily. An architect may know the best layout in theory, but the person wheeling the bed into that hospital room day-in and day-out knows how wide that door really needs to be. This is going to save the organization many headaches (and potentially a lot of money) down the road.

These were the thoughts I have been mulling over the last week, but there are more on Twitter. The #changehappens hashtag moves pretty quickly, so check out this custom search I created for more.

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