In the spirit of creating moonshots in healthcare, we analyzed the effectiveness of the Apollo 11 space mission, and have found numerous similarities between this mission and a winning sports team.
I used to be a former High School National Track Champion, before I entered the healthcare industry. During that time I had a number of accomplishments as a middle distance runner, including being a national champion in several races and earning a scholarship to the University of Georgia. Based on my experience, I would like to compare and contrast my view of healthcare with what I have learned and observed in sports.
During my 25 years in healthcare, I have had a strong realization that despite similarities in the expectations, processes and goals of sports and healthcare teams; the way team members work together in sports is much more effective than what I have observed in healthcare. In sports, the excitement and commitment of every team member was contagious. While unfortunately in healthcare, I have observed the enthusiasm of newly hired workers dwindle year by year. I see so many areas that need to be improved, for instance, interprofessional team members in healthcare tend to work among themselves. On the other hand, I see several exemplary characteristics of winning sports teams that are worthy to be emulated.
In this year’s NBA championship, for example, the east and west collided, and each team was enthusiastically cheered on by their dedicated fans, some no longer living in the same city as their beloved team. How can such teams and the teamwork they exhibit inspire us in healthcare?
As a national middle distance runner, I had been in similarly performing teams, sweating it out in training, listening to my coach, learning from previous teammate's output, and giving my all during the competition. Did my team or I always win? No, but every race finished became a lesson, knowing that we have given it our best shot.
The Role of Recognition in Effective Teamwork
One area I have appreciated in winning sports teams that resonates with my interest for effective teamwork in the healthcare setting is giving the winners of a competition a badge of honor that they could wear openly as a symbol of recognition. Sports teams wear their accomplishments visibly, reducing the subjectivity of how they received such awards. Accomplishments are readily available, plain to see and manifested by evidence.
In a relay, for example, it is easy to measure an individual's effort while in the healthcare setting, individual accomplishments in a team are more difficult to identify and measure. Recognition sometimes goes only to the leader, without giving acknowledgement to those working in the background. This imbalance in appreciation affects teamwork in such a way that it impedes a person’s full support to the group because he or she ‘doesn’t get any credit for it anyway.’
Addressing this issue of recognition is tantamount to achieving healthcare moonshots. How? When staff are duly recognized, they become inspired to give their hundred percent. They come up with innovative ways to improve processes and they actively engage in their work. Managers should be equally recognized for their oversight of the staff, leadership skills and their ability to transform their organization. When the management and staff are working in full swing and harmony, they produce results equal to a rocket launch that will achieve goals as far as the moon. Hence, there is a need to create a medium for acknowledgments and rewards.
Due recognition can be given to deserving individuals by creating a mechanism that automatically records what is being asked of each team member, provides open closed-loop communication lines and tracks messages between and among members. When the staff knows that management is aware of individual contributions, and when management is informed of their employees’ achievements, awarding badges of honor becomes simpler, more objective and evidence-based. With effective positive reinforcement, team performance excels and becomes purpose-driven. I believe that this strategy alone can contribute significantly to the achievement of healthcare moonshots.
Recognition's Role in Achieving the Apollo 11 Mission
Let us take this scenario and compare it to the Apollo 11 mission. How did recognition help achieve the moonshot? For one, everyone in the mission knew that the whole world was watching every step of the way. The pressure was there and they had to perform. As the world waited, television and radio broadcasting served as their constant recognition. Every small achievement in the realization of the mission was in the news. Secondly, it was a quintessential human feat and all workers knew that their names would forever be tied to the success of the mission. It was, in itself a huge motivation for them to perform beyond their own limitations.
ManageUP's Use of Key Apollo 11 Principals
ManageUP PRM has come up with strategies that are similar to the Apollo moon shot. In our second blog in the moonshot series, we outlined certain qualities that made the space mission a success. Safety and quality were a priority for Apollo and effectiveness became the guiding principle of the mission. Efficiency was the product of the exemplary leadership, technology, thorough planning and continuous process improvement that was a hallmark of the team. Finally, zest became the sustaining power source of the mission. SQUEEZE™ -(s)afety, (qu)ality, (e)ffectiveness, (e)fficiency and (z)est were the characteristics of the Apollo moon shot that ManageUP has embodied in its strategies that provide organizational transformation. Zest specifically targets employee engagement through the provision of due recognition of both staff and management, which will ultimately lead to the realization of organizational moonshots.
Contact ManageUP to understand how this simple but effective strategy can help you achieve organizational transformation. Level up on team performance and get nearer to your moonshots!