Solving the Decision Bottleneck In Two Essential (But Not So Easy) Steps

Solving the Decision Bottleneck In Two Essential (But Not So Easy) Steps

Imagine a single organization from the perspective of two different cultures: Culture Accountability and Culture Bottleneck.

In Culture A (Accountability), things get done quickly and efficiently. Executive teams are cohesive and managers know what is expected. As a result, managers run a tight ship and are quick to course-correct any activity, behavior or process that doesn’t align with the shared mission and vision. Managers are confident that their decisions will be supported by the executive team. Conversations, both vertical and horizontal, are focused on both process and people; results and relationships. Those who do not fit the culture leave on their own accord.

In Culture B (Bottleneck), bottlenecks create frustration. Decisions seem to be an afterthought and lack of trust precedes the need to micromanage. Managers fear making decisions because their decisions are often overridden. Executives complain that their managers never get the job done. On the front lines, turf wars and internal drama erupt spontaneously. Uncertainty, unexpected change and chaos color the culture. Conversations are avoided and poor performance is justified until something major happens and firing is the only option.

“At most organizations, the bottleneck is at the top of the bottle.”– Peter Drucker

All other things considered, there are two components that distinguish Culture A from Culture B: Clarity and Communication.

1. Clarity: How and who makes decisions

In every single instance of time-wasting drama, no matter how it manifests, at the root is a lack of clarity in some form.

On the front lines, when employees are unclear about what success looks like, they lose confidence and waste productive hours getting reassurance and clarification — procrastinating when uncertain. At the highest level, lack of clarity about the real problem or the desired end result wastes time and resources hiring vendors and consultants offering “one and done” workshops or other ineffective solutions.

Even when there is clarity about the real problem, the end result and the process, a big road-block I often see is the lack of clarity about who is in charge and how decisions are made.

For context, let me share a quick example. Years ago I was on a project for a mid-sized corporation. My inside contact, a high-level director, had absolutely no power to push the project forward. Because of this fact, any work I did had to be approved by the top executive who would continuously change calendar dates and, in doing so, would “delegate” the date changing to the director, who had to navigate calendars and multiple dates. I estimate we wasted at least 40 productive hours chasing down the real decision maker to make a change instead of setting up one phone call.

Increasing clarity inevitably increases your productivity and speed. Here are some suggestions for increasing speed by increasing decision-making clarity.

What to start doing

  1. After identifying the real problem and the desired outcome, take the necessary time to agree on how decisions will be made among top executives. Whether you are a co-owner or a team of C-suite executives, your organization’s success and your peace of mind is dependent upon your maturity to clarify your decision-making processes.
  2. Have a plan in place to maximize efficiency and decision making for those times when change happens.
  3. Give real decision-making authority to those to whom you delegate power.

What to stop doing

  1. Stop going rogue on your senior partners. Before you make a major decision, get alignment from your executive team.
  2. Stop delegating when delegation creates a bottleneck. Instead, hire an assistant to do the grunt work and let your director-level people get their own work done.
  3. Stop complaining about your employees and team members. If you find yourself complaining, set a time on the calendar to confront the issue with the person (or people) who needs to hear the conversation.

2. Communicate: Initiate clear conversations

The number-one problem I see that slows progress and efficiency is the inability or unwillingness of leaders to initiate what I call executive conversations. Executive conversations (as I define them) are both results- and relationship-oriented.

Many drama-laden cultures adopt an either-or mentality: a mindset that it’s all about results — anything for a profit, or it’s all about relationships — avoiding conflict at all costs. Both mindsets create accountability-related issues.

In his bestselling book, Advantage, Patrick Lencioni says:

“Many leaders struggle with accountability but don’t know it. Some will tell me that since they aren’t afraid to fire people, they must not have an accountability problem. Of course, this is misguided. Firing someone is not necessarily a sign of accountability, but is often the last act of cowardice for a leader who doesn’t know how or isn’t willing to hold people accountable. At its core, accountability is about having the courage to confront someone about their deficiencies and then to stand in the moment and deal with their reaction which may not be pleasant.“

When there is a lack of accountability there is a lack of alignment, and when there’s a lack of alignment there’s a need for executive conversations.

What to start doing

  1. Increase your awareness of what is happening that should not be happening, and articulate it.
  2. Ask for the behavior or action you want directly and succinctly without blame.
  3. Keep the overall good of the organization in mind when you address the issue.
  4. State how the problem you perceive affects the revenues, productivity, team, client satisfaction or any other business case.

What to stop doing

  1. Stop holding grudges and realize that a grudge is a sure sign of a conversation that needs to happen.
  2. Get coaching support to learn how to initiate conversations that get results instead of resentment.
  3. Stop firing people before you’ve had the courage to have a couple of conversations. If you communicate effectively, they will either improve with some coaching, or they will eliminate themselves when they see they can’t cut the mustard. The good news is they will probably leave on friendly terms.

Conclusion

There are many factors that shape culture; however, it’s up to the senior leaders to eliminate the time-wasting bottlenecks that contribute to high-drama cultures. Get clear on the real problem and the desired end result. Clarify who is in charge and how decisions are made. Initiate executive conversations that are both relationship- and results-oriented to transform the Bottleneck Culture into a Culture of Accountability.

 

 

 

16 Rules for Effective Decision-Making

https://www.leadershipnow.com/leadingblog/2019/04/16_rules_for_effective_decisio.html

16 Rules for Effective Decision-Making

WHERE WE GO in life is determined by the choices we make. How we make those decisions becomes critical. The speed of change, the abundance of choices, the unknown unknowns, and the impact of a connected world, all conspire to make decision-making a labyrinth. We face traps everywhere.

In Labyrinth: The Art of Decision-Making, Pawel Motyl examines “The most prevalent weak spots in decision-making processes, not only in business but in life in general; during crisis and calmer times; in both individual and group decisions.” 

I agree with Motyl that “We really do live in a world where everything is out of whack and everything we thought we knew is being called into question.” It calls for a deeper look at not just what we think, but more importantly how we think and a clear understanding of how we got there.

Motyl digs into the series of decisions that led to some of the modern world’s most dramatic events: from the Cuban missile crisis to the 1996 Mount Everest climbing disaster; from the Apollo 13 rescue mission to the ill-fated Daimler–Chrysler merger.

Using many and varied examples Motyl reveals 16 rules for effective decision-making. The rules with the accompanying narrative are well-researched and intriguing. Here is the overview: 

Rule #1
Prepare for a black swan (an unpleasant surprise or event that we cannot predict from prior experience), because one thing is certain: sooner or later you will meet one. Because of easy access to information and globalization, black swan events are on the rise.

Rule #2
The better it’s going, and the more successful you are, the more you are at risk of turkey syndrome. The deeper you fall into turkey syndrome, the nastier your black swan will be.

Rule #3
The more you admire someone, the more critically you should examine their opinions. The more exciting somebody’s vision seems, the more closely you should test its foundations in reality. This fundamental misunderstanding comes into play here: “a harmonious group = a tight group = an effective group”

Rule #4
The more everyone around insists something is impossible, the more you should check it yourself. Several times.

Rule #5
The greater the investment of time, effort, money, and our own reputation, the harder it is to objectively assess a situation and make the right decision. 

Rule #6
If you find yourself in a black swan situation, go into inquiry mode. Whatever your intuition or experience is telling you may be wrong. 

Rule #7
Set up your own Executive Committee. Surround yourself with people who don’t think like you. Value those who disagree with you, and who aren’t afraid to say it.

Rule #8
When improving and organization, also pay attention to the best and most efficient processes. In a black swan situation, they can fail. Do you have a backup plan?

Rule #9
Shoot down Concordes and hunt for monkey habits. Eliminating loss-making projects and bad practices frees up time for other things, increasing a company’s agility and flexibility.

Rule #10
Recognize the value of your failures (and those of others). Thoroughly analyze your past failures and draw in depth, objective, and actionable conclusions for the failure.

Rule #11
Never stop shaping the organizational culture. It can be your greatest ally, or your worst enemy, in making the right decisions.

Rule #12
Great leaders are distinguished by their awareness that greatness is no guarantee of infallibility.

Rule #13
Don’t be a “decision drunk”—use data for illumination, not only for support. Data can be a great ally, when properly analyzed.

Rule #14
Never ignore the values and convictions of other generations, especially those only just entering the market. Even if their influence on decision-making today is minimal, the new normal means this may change sooner than you expect.

Rule #15
The world of data overload is also a word of new possibilities. Actively seek out opportunities to engage a cost-free force that can radically improve the quality of your decision-making.

Rule #16
Encourage and create leaders around you. Dispersed leadership involves many people, which means there is less risk of a single person making a poor strategic choice.

 

 

 

Cheerleadership is not Leadership. Cheerleadership creates fake believers.

http://www.leadershipdigital.com/edition/daily-management-leadership-2019-04-25?open-article-id=10320579&article-title=cheerleadership-is-not-leadership–cheerleadership-creates-fake-believers&blog-domain=greatleadershipbydan.com&blog-title=great-leadership-by-dan

Image result for cheerleadership

Imagine for a second that your boss is miles away from the day-to-day. A sufferer of Corner Office Syndrome he or she continues to make command decisions without consulting the team. The decisions are astounding to you and you start to question these far-off choices.

Now, your attention isn’t on doing the right thing for the business, but on how to stop the wrong thing your boss has put in play. You have two options. You could bite your lip and go with the flow. …Or …try to address this head-on which is no easy feat.

It could be too big of a risk to put your livelihood at stake. Your mind drifts again — pondering if this company is the right place for you. You wonder why you care so much. The easy thing to do would be to care less.

The truth is your faith in the business has splintered.

This inner conversation happens to many of us. When it does, you are officially not a believer anymore. You are transgressing into a fake believer.

When you lose belief, or don’t have something to believe in, it’s easy to fake believe.

But as Navy SEALs Jocko Willink & Leif Babin remind us in their book, “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead & Win”, “They must believe in the cause for which they are fighting, they must believe in the plan they are asked to execute, and most important, they must believe in and trust the leader they are asked to follow.”

Building a cultural rocket ship is more rocket art than rocket science.

If your responsible for hiring talent in your company, then you already know it comes down to creating, retaining and sustaining internal believers.

Why is this so important?

Because believers aren’t just wanted—they are needed in order to create the necessary conviction that makes your organization thrive.

Consider these questions for a second: Do you often feel like you are on an island alone in your company? Do you have coworkers you can genuinely trust? Do you feel you’re being sucked into corporate politics? Are you in a Watch-Your-Back Culture or a Got-Your-Back Culture?

These are the questions that need to be openly talked about with your teams. And these are the types of conversations that are welcomed by true leaders.

This might be a good time to share a truth. I have a major gripe with the word leadership. Make no mistake that I believe we are in dire need of courageous leaders. However, I’ve seen too many poor leaders turn leadership into cheerleadership.

Poor leaders start ra ra’ing to their employees, which may work with some of your workforce, but your elite producers can see right through it. Internal discord starts the minute you send staff down inside themselves questioning, wondering and calling out a faulty decision.

Management guru Ken Blanchard is spot on when he writes……“It takes a whole team of people to create a great company but just one lousy leader to take the whole business down the pan.”

Making Believers all starts at the top with what I call your Believership.

I’m sure you noticed the world choice. The clear mission of leadership is to transform into the company’s Believership. The Believership’s job is to create believers in all directions: making believers out of your employees, your prospects, your customers and, when appropriate, your board.

One final reason I like calling it a “Believership” is because successful leading is not simply about one person. There’s a checks and balances system working together at the top – if you’re lucky, that group shares values but brings breadth of experience to the table. Courage and business are both team games.

Having an aligned Believership makes it easy for employees to believe. They set the vision for the company, deliver the truth (no matter how hard the circumstance) and create trust – the most essential ingredient – that unlocks a successful team.

 

Montefiore Health System CFO Colleen Blye on her daily mantra and facing today’s healthcare challenges

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/montefiore-health-system-cfo-colleen-blye-on-her-daily-mantra-and-facing-today-s-healthcare-challenges.html?origin=cfoe&utm_source=cfoe

Colleen Blye serves as executive vice president and CFO of New York City-based Montefiore Health System.

Before joining the system in January 2016, she was executive vice president and CFO of Catholic Health Services of Long Island, an integrated healthcare delivery system based in Rockville Centre, N.Y.

She was also executive vice president for finance and integrated services at Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives.

Here, Ms. Blye shares her proudest moment as Montefiore’s CFO, discusses her daily mantra and reveals the revenue cycle tools she’s most excited about.

Question: Since joining Montefiore, what has been one of your proudest moments as CFO?

Colleen Blye: When we restructured the balance sheet last year and [pursued] public financing. This was the first time in Montefiore’s history that we went for a public rating. As a result, this refinancing provided much needed liquidity for our system, and it allowed us to level debt service. We now have a solid baseline going forward which offers us access to additional financing, as needed. That was a big deal and positions our organization with a debt structure appropriate for a system of our size and scale.

Q: What is the greatest challenge you faced as CFO in 2018? Do you expect this to be your biggest challenge in 2019 as well?

CB: One [challenge] is shifting the finance culture overall from one of financial reporting to one of analytics, and being a business partner. In today’s healthcare world, I think this is imperative, and Montefiore has embraced this culture. I think businesses separate from the healthcare environment operate this way, and we need to be responding and shifting so that finance is a true business partner throughout the organization.

The other aspect that I think is increasingly challenging for all of us in financial healthcare is trying to understand how to diversify our shrinking revenue base. There’s been a lot of revenue compression by governmental payers and the market in general. Therefore, it is imperative that we continually think about how we’re going to diversify that revenue base and bring in new revenue streams to facilitate growth.

Q: What is a daily mantra that informs your leadership decisions?

CB: I always use the concept, “Leave an organization better than you received it.” That doesn’t always mean having absolute analytics or support. Seasoned CFOs understand [that] you must use your experience and other intellect, in addition to data and supporting analysis, to determine whether the risk of any given business decision is worthwhile going forward.

Q: Montefiore Health System has 11 hospitals and serves 3 million people in communities across the Bronx, Westchester and the Hudson Valley. How does the system’s financial strategy differ by location?  

CB: At the highest level, we are one system. However, every market has different opportunities, and it’s imperative that we find those opportunities and capitalize on them to benefit the patients, providers, communities, and therefore, the system overall.

Q: The system is bringing specialty care expertise in areas including cancer, advanced imaging, neuroscience, transplantation, musculoskeletal and heart and vascular care to new markets in its service region of four counties. How does this play a role in the system’s financial improvement plans?

CB: It’s certainly a big part. This goes back to diversifying the revenue stream and understanding where those opportunities are. Specialty care is a critical element of the future of healthcare. We’ve seen a significant shift from inpatient to outpatient care for the less complex services. But,it’s equally important to understand the more complex care as well, capturing that environment so we can take care of the whole person. From an economic point of view, it typically is that more complex care that produces some of the greater margins for our organization.

Q: What are your top cost containment strategies?

CB: We’re focused on all opportunities. One challenge many organizations have is to maintain a cost-focused culture while you’re trying to support growth to sustain the business. But we look at all aspects — how do we maintain our quality care yet utilize our size and scale to get efficiency? We’re constantly looking at that as it relates to our procurement strategy. We’re constantly looking at our employee and benefit cost structure. We [must] continually look at that resource consumption and make sure we’re spending wisely. As a system, our goal is to make sure that quality care is at the center of what we’re focused on but that we utilize who we are — scale and size — to maximize opportunities.

It’s [also] not just the cost side of the equation that we look at. To grow and sustain, we also have to grow our business. We have to be equally focused on where those growth opportunities lie for us as an organization, maintaining equal focused on our revenue efficiency to make certain we’re collecting every dollar we’re entitled to for the services we deliver.

Q: What new revenue cycle tool are you most excited about? 

CB: The tools we’re most excited about are those that are patient-focused. Consumers, particularly millennials, expect and look for that convenience. We are working with vendors that transition a complex billing and information cycle.  This enables us to communicate with our patients in a far more user-friendly way, We’re excited about these opportunities which are focused on patient-centered communications, allowing us to connect directly with patients, informing them at the earliest point about what their financial responsibilities are, how to interpret that information, and how to make payments on those responsibilities.

Q: If you could pass along one nugget of advice to another hospital CFO, what would it be?

CB: Always keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities and always think about how you can grow and expand your thinking and the perspective you bring to the work that you do.

I would also encourage thinking about how to become partners in the healthcare business. I think we have a calling now as CFOs to be far more involved in operations, rather than just financial reporting, providing data, trends and insight to our internal colleagues. I would really suggest moving from the traditional finance acumen to use those skills and techniques to be a strategic-thinking and better business partner.