So I’m making dinner the other night and I’m reminded of a story I heard a while back on NPR. The narrator and his wife were telling stories about their 50 year marriage, some of the funny memories they shared which helped keep them together. One of the stories the husband related was about his wife’s meatloaf. Their recipe for meatloaf was one they had learned from his wife’s mother. Over the years they had been served meatloaf at the home of his in-laws on several occasions, and on most of those occasions his wife would help her mom prepare the meatloaf. She’d mix the ingredients in a large wooden bowl; 1 pound each of ground beef and ground pork, breadcrumbs, two eggs, some milk, salt, pepper, oregano, and a small can of tomato paste. She’d knead the mixture together, shape into a loaf, and place the loaf into the one-and-a-half pound pan, discarding the leftover mixture. She would then pour a mixture of tomato paste and water, along with diced carrots and onions on top of the two loaf, and then garnish it with strips of bacon.
He went on to say that meatloaf night at home was one of his favorite dinners. His wife always prepared the dish exactly as she had learned from her mother. One day he asked her why she threw away the extra instead of cooking it all. She replied that she was simply following her mother’s recipe. The husband said, “The reason your mom throws away part of the meatloaf is because she doesn’t own a two-pound baking pan. We have a two pound pan. You’ve been throwing it away all of these years and I’ve never known why until now.”
Therein lays the dilemma. We get so used to doing things one way that we forget to question whether there may a better way to do the same thing. Several of you have inquired as to how to incorporate some of the patient experience strategy ideas in your organization, how to get out of the trap of continuing to do something the same way it’s been done, simply because that’s the way things are done. It’s difficult to be the iconoclast, someone who attacks the cherished beliefs of the organization. It is especially difficult without a methodology and an approach. Without a decent methodology, and some experience to shake things up, we’re no better off than a kitchen table amateur (KTA). A KTA, no matter how well-intentioned, won’t be able to affect change. The end results would be no better than sacrificing three goats and a chicken.
So, think about how to define the problem, how to find a champion, and how to put together a plan to enable you to move the focus to developing a proper strategy, one that will be flexible enough to adapt to the changing requirements. But keep the goats and the chicken handy just in case this doesn’t work.