There are many Lean tools available to help teams navigate the seemingly endless pit of decisions they must make during any project. I continue to be amazed by how powerful these basic approaches are to help multi-disciplinary teams navigate the minefield of personal experience.
While working with a community hospital trying to solve its overcrowded emergency department, we applied our base process led approach. We started by observing and mapping their current state process. We mined their EMR data to understand throughput and acuity realities. Working with a passionate multi-disciplinary team, we mapped an ideal future state employing a modified split flow to manage their patients and more effectively deal with the large population of patients awaiting an inpatient bed.
Space was tight and capital was scarce. There wasn’t going to be enough of either to do everything we wanted. We had to prioritize and be sure the project would yield the greatest possible value. As the process consultants, we were working to augment and support the architectural team. As they developed several good organizational models, it was important for the client to evaluate and select the optimal approach.
Choosing by advantages is a great way to help a group quickly and clearly define what is most important and evaluate solutions. We asked the group to brainstorm their priorities for a successful project. We then combined the similar topics, eliminating those that were too micro in focus and could be accomplished in any option. We then asked the team to rate the importance of each of the remaining eight priorities on a scale from one to five.
Next, we reviewed each of the four possible organizational options and asked the group to quickly discuss and rate each option from one to five in each of the eight categories. With a simple spreadsheet, we were able to record their rankings in real time and report the findings in the course of an hour discussion. One option clearly stood out above the others as one that supported their key goals most, and it wasn’t the option everyone favored when we started the meeting.
Choosing by advantages is a way to add rigor and objectivity to abstract decisions that must be made early in projects before the options are fully defined. It’s quick, simple and transparent. Quickly the team reached consensus, enabling the architecture team to develop more-detailed options for pricing and board approval in the course of one workshop.
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