If I had to pick just one reason that is holding back big labor and non-labor savings for healthcare organizations, it would be the habit of making excuses (or making allowance for yourself, somebody else or something) for why things aren’t getting done.
There’s an old Yiddish proverb, “If you don’t want to do something, one excuse is as good as another,” which sums up what I’m talking about here. Your clinicians don’t want to make changes in their practices, so they make excuses for why the change you are proposing is impossible to implement. Your administration doesn’t want to rock the boat, so they make excuses on why the timing isn’t right to make a particular change happen. And we all make excuses on why we missed a deadline, a savings target or lowering an agreed-upon budgeted expense.
Just recently a prospective client told me that her healthcare system had budgeted $5 million in savings in the physician preference items this year, yet her directors and managers hadn’t saved one dollar to this end to date. Their excuse was that they didn’t have their management support to do so. Do you see a pattern here? As Dave Del Dotto puts it, “No one has ever excused his (or her) way to success.” No, not ever …
Excuses promote, encourage and perpetuate mediocrity, missed opportunities and failure. It isn’t a leadership quality that we should emulate in any of our personal or business dealings. Instead of accepting excuses as a way of life, we need to turn every excuse into results by:
- Holding everybody responsible for their actions
It goes without saying that everyone should be held responsible and accountable for their actions, but we all know that this isn’t the way it works in the real world. Too often, people wiggle out of their obligations, promises and agreements with no recriminations or negative results. To put a stop to this aberrant behavior, make a point of holding everyone’s feet to the fire, even when it is uncomfortable to do so. You will soon learn that very few people will take advantage of you once they find out that you mean what you say and say what your mean.
- Getting to the unvarnished truth of every excuse
Don’t allow any excuse to go unchallenged! Make sure that you learn the truth behind such statements as “I tried it before and it didn’t work.” When I hear this kind of dribble, I dig deeper to understand what didn’t work, why and how it didn’t work, and then if it’s a fact that it didn’t work, how can we make it work this time around? This way I can turn the excuse into a workable solution!
- Create an environment where excuses aren’t tolerated.
Once you understand that excuses are the seeds of failure, you won’t accept, tolerate or endure them any longer. You will create an environment where excuses are verboten. Only the truth will be accepted as gospel, and data will become your truth serum to detect excuses that don’t pass the smell test.
My point here is that our personal and business lives can become a whole lot easier, enduring fewer hassles and having more positive outcomes if we turn yours, mine and everybody’s excuses into results. The best part about this philosophy is that it only takes a new “mindset” about excuses to do so.
Robert T. Yokl
Chief Value Strategist
Strategic Value Analysis® in Healthcare