Posted by: Tony Shannon | December 31, 2012

Doing Less

As the year of 2012 closed it was time for some reflection in the rolling hills of SwaleDale..
.. one recent message stood out from the others, as worthy of attention for the year of 2013.

The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, was an article that I had come across towards the end of the year that struck a chord.

Many of us are busy folk who juggle work, play, family life etc. Most of us yearn for success and fulfilment in what we do, yet in the modern world, we recognise that no matter how hard we try our intray will never empty… there is always stuff to be done…so how do we ensure our time on this earth is spent well?

Having been very fortunate to have opportunities in my clinical, management and technology roles, at the present time I’m busy wearing 3 hats at work. As I said am grateful for the opportunities I’m having in life.

In the clinical domain of Emergency Medicine, understood as the front-line of the healthcare system, the ED In Tray is rarely empty.  While the intensity and mental stimulation of the work is as challenging as anything else you will ever find/anywhere, the lens of the ED highlights the unsustainable nature of modern medicine and the need for smarter solutions to improving healthcare..

In the domain of Healthcare Informatics, the challenging yet inevitable move towards “smarter” healthcare raises many people, process and technology challenges. People issues of cultural change and the need for leadership, processes that are siloed and slow to change, technology that is proprietary and difficult to flex and integrate.

In the domain of Information Technology, a buzz permeates the air with the Information Revolution around us, yet there remains a major gap in the tools I need at the ED front-line to make the best use of my time there..

As my working life unfolds, progress to see better smarter healthcare systems always seem slower than I would like. We know real change takes both patience and sustained effort.
One of the keys to explaining the difficulties of change involves exploring both success and failure..

The aforementioned article from Greg McKeown, he talks of 4 phases of personal and organisational success which explores this challenge.

Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success.

Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and opportunities.

Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts.

Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.

Curiously, and overstating the point in order to make it, success is a catalyst for failure.

McKeown suggests some approaches to get through..

First, Use more extreme criteria

Second, Ask what is essential and eliminate the rest, i.e Do Less..

That’s useful advise as we face into 2013, i.e. the challenge is where to focus our energies.. where best to focus efforts. More on that as 2013 unfolds..


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