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MU Healthcare improves patient engagement scores

Like creativity many assume that insight is a gift of the muses.  Someone is “touched” and Eureka! a light bulb comes on. That is how it feels, but not how it happens.  Insight is a product of shifting perception.  Seeing events, relationships and situations in a new light reveals new opportunities and alternatives.  Seeing differently is a skill that can be learned.

Leaders need insight.  They need to find solutions in difficult situations.  They need to find alternatives and create opportunities.  At University of Missouri Healthcare, I used Dr. Edward de Bono’s Power of Perception toolkit to train leaders how to shift perception on demand.  I called the class Managerial Communications and taught his principles are essential leader “considerations.”

What I learned in the process is that this kind of systematic “consideration” is a powerful arrow in a leader’s quiver.  It equips them to listen, engage, decide, and anticipate.  Even a simple suggestion like; “Consider the consequences of this decision today, this week and this month,” can make the most inexperienced new leader suddenly wise.

As leaders took the skills they had learned back into their clinical teams, patient engagement scores rose.  Not only were they finding insights to address their own needs, but also, to help patients and families.  These patient facing teams were seen as more “considerate” by the communities they served.

When leaders applied the tools to employee performance, they began to reconsider the causes of poor performance.  These leaders were more understanding and less quick to judge.  Nurses on these teams noticed the difference and described their teams as more engaged because they had supervisors “who cared.”

In department meetings, quality initiatives and project teams, leaders who had been through the course were more effective at managing conflict, reaching shared decisions and innovating through persistent challenges.  They were the ones asked to participate in higher level change efforts because their peers saw them as “circumspect.”

When I first taught the tools I had misgivings about the title of the course.  I thought “Power of Perception” sounded like a gimmick.  Now I know better.  In the fourteen years I developed leaders for MU Healthcare, that course had the best downstream impact.   That was my insight.  If you want leaders to be more considerate, more caring and more circumspect, consider the power of perception.

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