A fellow change practitioner recently shared the story of a friend who is a health care consultant. On a recent project, the consultant was assisting a hospital with the reconfiguration of nurses’ workstations.
If you’ve been in the corporate world any length of time, you have probably been the recipient (victim?) of a workstation reconfiguration. People move offices, cubicle walls are moved, office equipment is relocated. Typically, when this happens, the assumption is that you’ll putter around for a few weeks, finding your new path to the conference rooms and the printer, turning the wrong way at first, but fixing it once you realize it. Eventually, you’ll get used to the new setup and your routine will become automatic.
When nurses hear the alarm for a “code blue,” meaning someone is in cardiopulmonary arrest, they have to get to the patient’s room as quickly as possible with the life-saving equipment. A split-second delay literally is the difference between life and death. In this situation, if a change in workstation means taking a step in the wrong direction before your brain realizes it and corrects you, it matters.
It wouldn’t be enough to change the nurses’ workstations, show them where the crash cart is, and expect they would overcome the learning curve eventually. People’s lives were at stake.
To be truly ready for this change, the nurses’ new routine had to already be automatic before the change happened. How did the consultant with the hospital accomplish this?
In a separate building, they created a simulated environment with the precise new layout, and gave the nurses the opportunity to practice the code blue routine over and over until it was ingrained. Most organizations would not go to this length for a seemingly trivial change. But in this case it mattered that the nurses not miss a beat once the real workstation changed.
Even though for the rest of us, our changes may not be life-and-death scenarios, from this example, we can take away some questions to ask ourselves:
- What level of change readiness matters?
- When you flip the switch of change, what do you expect people to be able to do reliably?
- What is the implication if they aren’t fully ready (to them, to the organization, to customers)?
- How can you prepare them to fulfill that level of readiness?
These are all questions we need to ask ourselves as change practitioners to ensure people are truly ready for change.
Is your organization ready for change? Find out with this free Change Readiness Assessment.