A talented carpenter...
Driving through a client site recently, I’ve seen campaign signs for various local political races; one in particular stands out, the candidate’s named ‘Carpenter’ and he’s using a particularly obvious political slogan related to his name and building governments (the metaphor is an obvious play on the old, respected profession). As I continued my drive though, the signage I repeatedly saw reminded me of the very obvious collaboration with a client by building organizational knowledge and learning with behavioral economics. Granted, the organization has as a history of implementing lean management values into the daily operations, and the results in thinking have become obvious to me as a third party collaborator. Often, I hear their organizational leaders and members refer to problem solving sheets, countermeasures, and finding the most appropriate measurements of sought after outcomes; ultimately, this has led to a smart use of time and effective problem solving for many of their leaders. With success, we’ve partnered with combining a lean management focus with methods for including behavioral approaches to initiatives and their implementations. Not only has this been inspiring to me in our combined work, but it’s been motivating for employees as well as adding obvious benefit to the patients we’re serving. For others though in their organization, adoption of the usefulness of these tools and systems has been slow or, in extreme and intemperate cases, nonexistent and resistant.
A few years ago, I was fortunate to work with a trauma surgeon I’ve long respected since my childhood in Alabama (he was very well known); he had seen it all, trained with a heart surgeon teaching him the deep arcana of surgical techniques who is credited with making the heart-lung bypass more feasible for routine use (John Kirklin), had directed MASH units in US missions overseas in the Middle East, and had successfully trained multiple surgeons with his trademarked, impassioned style. To say the very least, I admired and respected him, and this has lead the mental imprinting of many of his legendary idioms. One in particular, stands out to me regarding my work with the aforementioned client, the local mayoral race signage I’ve observed, and the feedback I’ve been hearing across their organization about combining lean with behaviorally informed approaches: “It is the poor carpenter who complains of his tools”, he would say to me.
Usually, I was blaming a process, a person, or an event from keeping me from accomplishing our quality or operational goals. Being a problem solver his entire medical career, sometimes making due with only what was at hand to achieve an immediate outcome (after all, trauma doesn’t wait), I knew what he meant when he stopped to remind me of this. In our tool chests, we are armed to tackle challenges unique to the organizations we serve and our patients, but like my mentor implored of me, the outcome rests on the practice and upkeep of the tools available to us. A talented carpenter, sharpens his/her tools, practices with them, and accounts for them relative to the job at hand; analogously, we succeed by doing the same at in any environment and context.
“It is the poor carpenter who complains of his tools”
Matt is a Behavioral Economics expert and would like to arm each of you with behavioral science tools to address strategic and delivery challenges. His firm, Ionia.codesigns processes to optimize human motivation, persuasion, influence, perception, behavioral nudges, and gamification. If you are interested in engaging with your patients, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 205.434.3499.