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Hospital Goblins, the challenge to manage strategy and operational pressures.

By Adrienne Evatt

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There is fairy tale lore that says that goblins exist in the in-betweens... the space between outside and inside - in doorways, windows, thresholds, etc. These goblins distract, forcing you to lose focus, time and wasting energy.

As we begin a new year, health care leaders all around are discussing leading in the space between planning for the future and setting strategy AND managing the day to day operations of running a health care organization ( replete with patient centricity initiatives and expectations, talent development, census, healthcare reform, and preparation for the Joint Commission, among other demanding events. )

So how do you do it? How do you dominate your own goblins and become innovative and strategic, maintain focus, and make progress while considering competitive forces and the daily rhythm (aka chaos) of managing a health care organization? Simply saying you are going to make the time to focus on strategy may work for some, but it seems that is rarely enough to elevate the organization in this environment. Henry David Thoreau said "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you've imagined". The hard part is figuring out how to master that space between dream and reality... The goblin.

Being innovative is frequently about seeing something in a different way, yet operating in that space between strategic innovation and day to day operations eludes us. A simple snapshot of a map looks completely different when shown as the diagram of streets vs. the diagram of the blocks, or the spaces in between the streets. It turns out getting to an address in Japan requires a completely different approach, including knowing the block number and the number of the house (which is determined by when the building was constructed, NOT by its location) Much like an optical illusion, one must completely change his perspective in order to 'see' and use a map in this different way, which is an analogy for how the adult mind must shift perspectives completely in order to create innovative ideas that are truly out of the box.

So, if you really want to see your organization from a different angle, go to Japan. Well, not literally. Take your executive team away from the day-to-day operations and stimulate them with best practices from other industries. Inspire innovation with a different setting and a different dialogue. The place for innovative conversations is in an innovative , stimulating environment.

To manage the day to day operating challenges, adopt an operating mechanism that demands progress towards both operational and strategic goals, and within that rhythm allow for the insertion and fostering of creative ideas and innovation action items from your trip to "Japan." Create an environment that not only allows the introduction of the unique perspective (the map that seems like an optical illusions because it is so foreign), but celebrates, rewards and demands innovative ideas. But recognize if you have the same people, sitting in the sample place, in the same way you always do, it will do little to create the innovative break-through you've been looking for.

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