Your team has a better chance at maintaining its performance when team members understand and act on their understanding of systems thinking.
As more UBTs focus on performance improvement work, they will make changes to processes and procedures that may have a ripple effect throughout the organization. An essential part of a leader's role is the ability to step back, look at the big picture and assess the impact of decisions and changes on other parts of the organization. This ability, called systems thinking, approaches problem solving by looking at the interaction of all the parts in a system and taking account of how improvements in one area of a system can adversely or beneficially affect another area.
Doing so promotes organizational learning and breaks down silos.
Significant improvements can be achieved in health care when unit-based teams consider how changes affect the entire system. Leaders of unit-based teams can coach teams to incorporate systems thinking into their small tests of change and their day-to-day work.
Benefits of systems thinking:
- Able to deal more effectively with complex problems;
- Prevent significant negative events;
- Prevent harm to patients;
- Increase staff morale;
- Get away from a blaming environment;
- Solve problems that seem unsolvable or revise ineffective solutions;
- Encourage innovation at every level.
Three steps of systems thinking
- Identify the problem:
- Step back and consider the problem within the bigger system;
- Focus on patterns of behaviors over time, rather than a single event;
- Focus on the specific system within the organization's control that is responsible for performance issues;
- Look for the cause of the problem or inefficient workflow.
- Brainstorm solutions:
- Understand the feedback loop and ongoing process that reinforces the problem;
- Take advantage of the collective brainpower of the group to solve the problem;
- Try to create a list of different possible solutions.
- Do a reality check:
- Evaluate the solutions to see whether they are realistic;
- Conduct small tests of change to see whether an improvement can be made.
Source: Institute for Healthcare Improvement