Nov 172017

Kate Mackenzie, Senior Measurement Improvement Manager

So my last blog was about hard-nosed numbers…facts, figures and full of great (!) advice like “Know your baseline” (please follow that one). Perhaps I came over a bit too ‘Wall street’ and you have visions of being stuck to a calculator or spreadsheet? If I did, then I hope you shouted at your screen that chasing numbers can often lead to trouble. And it can…I am with you on that one…IF it’s the only thing that is considered.

So what else is there? What can you do to ensure that your improvement project is not boiled down to one dry number?

Time to go jackanory.

What are you telling your patients, your colleagues, your bosses? How are you communicating? How often?

My answer to these questions is generally lost in an arm-waving fluff and bluster. What’s your response?

For anyone who has undertaken improvement training*, you can be under no illusion that time spent on developing a clear measurement plan is time well spent. But how many of us expend the same energy or time on planning our communications? Isn’t it just talking?

I wonder if you are pondering the questions posed above or rather querying why a data bod is talking about talking.

The thing is comms and measurement aren’t such different beasts when it comes to planning.

Take, for instance, the 6 questions that my wonderful communication colleague, Andrew Cooper has developed for “communications for improvement”

And now if you were to talk to me about your measurement plan:

Okay – there is some different terminology, but the key elements aren’t so different.

So just like Astaire and Rogers made a match whilst Ella Fitzgerald mused whether to just call the whole thing off, comms and measurement are happy bedfellows… perhaps even a new tweetably attractive combination of “commeasurement”.

By planning your communications strategy in tandem with measurement plan, it can actually save you time as you are explore the same questions from two aspects rather than undertaking separate tasks. And there is likely to be crossover – for instance, you may need to track twitter activity if you are raising awareness. And you definitely will need to present your data to someone, somewhere. To be effective, you need to think of the full picture in order to position yourself in that sweet spot of “Change” – where people understand and are engaged to do something differently and want to improve.

With thanks to the Scottish Improvement Leaders Course for introducing me to Brent Dykes:

In this seemingly fear-mongering age, some might immediately declare that you are doomed if you neglect one of these but I prefer to say you are a stronger force for improvement when you appeal to the hearts AND minds of your team, patients, bosses.

If you are despairing of now needing to factor in yet another thing into your planning, here is a handy video to help remind you of those key steps…

Happy commeasuring!

*Big up for Improving Quality Together colleagues (if you haven’t already then please check out the website: Bronze training is an online cracker)

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