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Do You Have A "Stop-Doing List?"

Of course ambitious organizations like yours have strategic plans loaded with things to do. But do you have an equally disciplined list of things you need to STOP doing?

You've emphasized process improvement and Lean manufacturing, downsizing and efficiency-seeking. You've told your physicians and nurses that to do otherwise places your organization at great risk. They might even buy it...until they stop to think about how administrative processes seem to grow at their own pace regardless, often with little (if any) evidence of added value or improved performance.

Mysteriously, processes originating in the boardroom or some walnut-paneled corner office escape scrutiny, as if the value is always self-evident.

What if you scrutinized your administrative decision-making processes with the same zeal you exhibit when talking "evidence-based medicine" with physicians? What value are those processes delivering? How can that value be realized with less work? What work is now unnecessary? That's your "stop-doing list."

Why not tell your leaders to spend an extra 5 hours a week with employees and/or customers? Give those leaders the explicit flexibility to decline another committee assignment if it takes away from that face-time. And to lessen the pressure, what if you applied Lean's focus on value to downsize your roster of committees and task forces from 'many' to 'few?'

What if your finance team was able to shave two weeks off the budgeting process, using fewer forms, fewer iterations and more coaching? That's four percent of a leader's year opened up for something more important. (And if you tell me there's NOTHING more important than a months-long budget process, show me where your strategic plan says that.)

Speaking of strategy, does your planning process focus on the "vital few" issues or the "trivial many?" Does your SWOT analysis have 15 of each? Pick two, work furiously on one. Repeat.

How many extra steps does it now take to hire someone? Is all that bureaucracy in place as a budget control or because you don't have the right people in leadership positions?

What reports do you demand just, well, because? You've laid off people for not contributing to organizational performance. Time to do the same with a few dozen time-wasting forms and reports. (And, no, moving your bloated roster of forms to your intranet is NOT what I'm talking about, unless you shed half of them along the way.)

What else might you shed? Start with these recommendations from Business Week.

Here's a free tip: cut in half the allowed time for every meeting. An all-day meeting becomes half-day. An hour becomes thirty minutes. 18 holes of golf become nine. Oh wait. That'll never happen.


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