Building a Culture of Collaboration Within Multilevel Systems
In our line of work, positive outcomes depend on the careful synergy of multiple systems. Because children’s health is influenced by a great many factors, simultaneously engaging systems at the community, city, state and government level is essential for significant change.
All too often we discover that two state agencies can be closely aligned on their goal, but working independently to reach it. When we work collaboratively instead, we’re able to pool, leverage and reinforce our resources for a common aim—a major benefit when such resources are often extremely limited.
A new e-course—NICHQ’s Essentials of Collaboration—provides strategies for healthy collaboration. One of the first steps is setting a clear aim, so that participants in an improvement project at all system levels know what they are working toward and understand their role in creating change. As we work to unite everyone around a common aim, team leaders should attempt to gain a complete picture of the context under which participants are currently working. Once they have a firm grasp on the specific assets and limitations of each system, leaders can provide teams with the right tools and resources to reach their goal.
When it comes to understanding the nuances of how a system operates, active listening can be incredibly powerful. Active listening is not only helpful in fostering the robust relationships at the heart of healthy collaboration; it may also shed light on the historical context of each system (as well as the areas where various systems intersect). Active listening can also bring about a shift in perspective that allows team leaders to guide collaboration more effectively. Rather than asking how to get participants fully engaged in the improvement process, for instance, we might frame the question as: “What do team members need from us so that they can fulfill their goals?” This subtle distinction helps in adopting a collaborative mindset.
Another key aspect of cultivating healthy collaboration is tuning into each participant’s unique strengths and weaknesses. Pinpointing weak spots can help you anticipate the necessary resources to support the team, while identifying and honoring a team member’s strengths can boost motivation and give projects fuel for long-lasting change. By capitalizing on people’s strengths, you grant them the opportunity to do what they most enjoy. And when people quickly see results from their work, they’re usually inspired to stay committed and even step up their efforts.
Don’t Let These Common Collaboration Challenges Derail Your Change Effort
Collaboration can get complicated quickly but proactively acknowledging common challenges can help keep your collaboration effort on course. To help, we’ve compiled strategies for managing frequent pitfalls so that you can not only initiate, but maintain effective collaboration.
A Proactive Approach to Early Children’s Vision Screening
As part of the Improving Children’s Vision: Systems, Stakeholders & Support (ICV) initiative, NICHQ is helping three states to develop comprehensive, coordinated approaches to improving vision and eye health for children under age 5. Introducing a systems-level approach can best overcome geographic and economic obstacles, and navigate the various components of state and community health systems.
What Comes First? The Policy or the Change?
What happens if the process to introduce new policies impedes or delays the provision of higher quality, evidence-based care, such as new infant safety recommendations or a proposal for improved epilepsy diagnosis? In other words, what happens if policy becomes a barrier to change rather than a core driver?
How to Cope with Change Fatigue
To keep your change initiative moving forward on the right path it’s important to know the symptoms of fatigue and the right strategies for addressing them. To help, we’ve paired the common causes of change fatigue with proven strategies to keep your change efforts on track.
Scott Berns Shares Healthcare Improvement Strategies at HUBweek
NICHQ President and CEO Scott Berns, MD, MPH, FAAP, joined fellow healthcare innovators at HUBweek, Boston’s festival for the future. Here are some highlights from Berns' keynote speech sharing NICHQ’s unique approach to bridging silos in the healthcare community to create pathways for collaboration and innovation.
Using Variation to Understand Improvement and Inform Action
Using data to understand system-level change is critical for quality improvement (QI) projects. Data, viewed in a sequence, like time or a series of events, helps us understand if changes we make to a system or process bring about improvement. Looking at data this way prevents us from seeing trends where they do not yet exist, or overreacting to any single data point.