We’ve been asked by many of our customers for periodic, no-nonsense emails with just-in-time information for managers and knowledge workers on how organizations work. This is our 34th issue and we hope you enjoy it. Past editions are available on our website.
If you would like to remain on the email list there is no need to respond. If your email address is included in error, we apologize for the oversight. Click on unsubscribe below to remove your email address.
Quick SOAR Case Study
Applying SOAR: A Case Study
This month I'm sharing an example of a Quick SOAR. You can read more about what a Quick SOAR is in our new thin book, The Thin Book of® SOAR: Building Strengths-Based Strategy. Two guest authors, Karen Buhler, MD and Linda Knox, tell us about their experience. Karen is a Family Practitioner and the Acting Head and the Assistant Head-Quality for the Department of Family Practice at BC Women's Hospital in Vancouver, Canada. Linda is a Registered Midwife and is the Assistant Head in the Department of Midwifery at BC Women's Hospital. Both are actively involved in clinical practice and teaching as well as leadership.
"See one, do one, teach one," is a well-known saying in medical education. Because learning in medical school is fast, voluminous, and needs to be combined with practical application and service on the spot, one learns to jump in and do it. Many years later we found ourselves once more needing to do just that. After attending a SOAR training (by Jackie Stavros in Vancouver, BC March 2009) we had the opportunity merely one week later to put this process to the test with results that far exceeded our expectations.
We have been involved in strategic planning around physician/midwife (a.k.a. care-providers) engagement. We had an upcoming meeting with a group of physician and midwife leaders to plan a process that would lead to the creation of a care-provider/hospital compact.
Luckily the SOAR workshop was held the week before. Three people from our hospital, two physicians and a midwife, took part. At the end of the one-day workshop, we had a 10-minute consultation with Jackie Stavros who helped us refine the technique for our application. With her enthusiastic encouragement we just went ahead, despite the fact that this was our first exposure to Appreciative Inquiry and SOAR. We decided to use a Quick SOAR at our planning meeting the following week.
We are a large teaching hospital that provides maternity and early newborn care for the population of Vancouver and high-level referral specialist care for the province of British Columbia. We have a great number of diverse practitioners, both physicians and midwives who provide this care. As in all areas of health care we have been experiencing many changes in the past 15 years.
Our hospital leaders decided that one way to help our hospital negotiate these changes successfully would be to create a care-provider/hospital compact. A compact would outline the roles and responsibilities of the administration, hospital and the care-providers in a way that would align our shared vision of providing optimal care to the families we serve. With the help of a consultant, Jack Silversen, we had been holding meetings for 6 months, hearing from the various stakeholders and were ready to plan the process to create the compact.
Participants in the planning meeting included: the hospital president, our consultant Jack, a member of the hospital charitable foundation, and representative midwifery and physician leaders from all parts of the hospital. By the time we had finished the introductions, and brought the team up to date we had 1.5 hours left in our meeting. We bravely launched into the Quick SOAR.
Quick SOAR Goals & Questions
The goals of the Quick SOAR were:
To explore the forces and factors that give life to the medical/midwifery staff in their work at BC Women's Hospital.
To design the framework for a process to create a compact between care providers and the hospital that helps the whole organization become the best it can be.
To provide a SOAR experience for the leadership team so that they could evaluate if SOAR would work well for the compact process.
We asked the following questions of the participants:
What attracted you to BC Women's Hospital? Think back to when you first decided to join Women's Hospital what attracted you? What were your initial excitements and impressions?
High point experience: Describe a high point experience at Women's; a time when you felt most alive, most engaged and most proud of your involvement. Tell the story what happened what made the experience exceptional?
Root causes of success: What was it about this hospital that made this experience a high point for you (relationships, culture, values, leadership qualities, best practice, traditions, skills. Who else was involved?)
Vision of engagement: Envision a time in the future when there is complete and exciting engagement of all the physicians and midwives at BCWH. What would that look like? What would it be like to work in this place? How might this help Women's Hospital be the best it can be?
Results of engagement: As you think about the larger context and purpose of our hospital what are the most important things that would result from a fully engaged medical and midwifery staff?
The Physician & Midwife/Hospital Compact Process: In designing a process that results in a physician & midwife/hospital compact what do you see as the top 3-5 ingredients that will make it exceptionally successful?
We began the interviews with Questions 1-4, linking pairs of practitioners who do not frequently work together. As we reported out to the whole group of 10 we organized the data into Strengths, Opportunities, and Aspirations (the S,O,A of SOAR).
We were running short on time and so we worked on Question 6 in the large group (which would be our Results quadrant). While we did this we continued to add ideas to the other three quadrants. We finished on time (an amazing feat for a group of doctors and midwives to accomplish!). At the end of the meeting we had a clear idea of how to proceed with our project, and all participants were very happy with the process and end product. Despite the fact that this meeting occurred at night after a full day's work for all of us, we left feeling invigorated and satisfied that we had accomplished our goal.
There were a few surprises:
The first is how well the Quick SOAR went despite the inexperience of the leaders. This speaks to the integrity and adaptability of the process.
We discovered that SOAR innately produces engagement by creating an opportunity for dialogue, deep listening, and thus a sense of community, strategic thinking, and valued participation.
We were amazed at the efficiency of SOAR. By starting from strengths and success and taking the time in the beginning to create a vision and opportunities, the practical results seemed to fall into place. In contrast the traditional approach of focusing on problems, weaknesses, and solutions involves a lot of controversy, negotiation, and compromise, which takes far longer and is hard work.
Lastly we had fun, we were enlivened, and we were inspired.
Since that time, we have involved 150 doctors and administrators in 4 identical sessions of 30-40 each and modified the above approach to be even more efficient without losing any of the basic elements of SOAR. Because doctors are very busy, we had 2 hours for what would take 4 or more to do. Once again results exceeded our expectations. The compact process is now well underway with a committed, positive, effective and actively engaged group.
We recommend just jumping in and trying it. See one, do one, lead one."
-- Karen Buhler, MD and Linda Knox, RM
SOAR Reference Card Now Available!
You too can "see one" with the The Thin Book of® SOAR, now available at the $9.75 introductory price until the end of August. The SOAR book has a pull-out card which is a handy reminder of the "5-I Approach" and sample questions that are referred to in the book. You'll it helpful in conducting your next SOAR. The Thin Book SOAR Reference Cards are now available for purchase in packs of 20 for $15 per pack. Coming Soon... Quick SOAR Webinar