Marilyn Orr made a little change in her office that had a big impact on the environment at Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.
When the executive director first moved in, the placement of her computer forced her to sit with her back to the door — and her employees.
“I put the computer on the desk return so that I was facing the door,” she says. “As people would walk past, I wanted the opportunity to be able to speak to my people.”
It was important for Orr to be accessible and approachable so her 275 employees could bring her ideas for improving the company’s treatment and rehab centers.
She also trains her management team members to look for innovation outside their industry. They bring books and articles to meetings then dig up data to help translate the ideas to Beacon. Throughout the process, Orr relies on their input.
“It is all about building a strong team,” she says. “You can’t do this alone.”
Smart Business spoke with Orr about eliciting ideas and input to innovate your company.
Find ideas to innovate. You have to have relationships that allow you to forecast for the future and prepare your organization for what’s coming in your industry. You’ve got to get that information from somewhere, and I get that from my professional organization. [A leader] needs to draw heavily upon the professional organizations available to us. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You simply need to be open to what other people are doing.
You’ve got to be a reader. I have several listservs that I belong to that bring wonderful information. I’ve got at least one or two books at the bedside that I’m trying to read through.
I share magazine articles, Wall Street Journal articles [with my team]. That is very common within our organization, and it goes up and down, so I know that my staff are looking for those things, as well. We set aside a portion of each management meeting that we have to discuss things like that.
You have to build your team so that they actually are willing to share those things. A lot of it is done by praising people who participate in the process, letting them know that I appreciate their input and doing it publicly in front of everybody.
Learn from other industries. I’m looking for things that are pertinent to [my industry]. I’m looking for quality measures. I’m also looking for technology. Everything that we do, quite frankly, is done from the perspective of how does it impact the patient. You really have to keep that front and center. So we’re looking to talk to our peers to find out what do you do to make that experience different and better.
I think some of it is not to wear blinders. You can learn a lot about your own industry from others. I look at the banking industry and some of the technology gains that they’ve made for transactions.
I always look, as well, at who provides outstanding customer service and what do they do. So the Nordstroms of the world or the Marriotts, how they have trained their people to provide outstanding customer service.
You have to communicate what you learn, especially with the people that you directly manage. You’ve got to be able to share it in a concise way, and you have to be able to build buy-in so that everyone is all on the same page.
Get input in person. When you create a team, one of the core elements of that is trust. People have to trust that the information that they bring forward and that the information that I’m bringing forward is all of value to the team.
[Trust] comes about, quite frankly, because of interpersonal relationships. I like to have face-to-face meetings with each of my managers. I keep an open-door policy. I really need to know my people. E-mail just doesn’t cut it. There’s a lot that can get lost in an e-mail. It’s a give and take that you can have in a face to face. But you have to make time to make certain that those things happen.
You ask for [input]. I’m looking for everyone on the team to give me honest feedback.
The point is you have to have an environment in which [debate is] allowed to happen. You have to seek that because the last thing you need is a team that does not challenge. I need people to bring forward all of their objections, good ideas as well as concerns. You don’t think of everything. So you’ve got to have a team that feels that they’re empowered to do that and that they won’t be punished for doing that.
We talk it through. I want to know more about what it is that is bringing that concern forward.
Back up ideas with data. You have to have some way to capture data and present in a format that actually is compelling. I can’t just simply walk into a meeting and say, ‘I’d like to do this.’ They’re going to ask for the data as to what makes a good, sound decision for our company.
We’re in the process right now of trying to determine if we want to have a telephone software that contacts patients as a reminder that their appointment’s coming up. So some of the data that I’ve been looking at is talking about the number of patients that come for appointments, how many appointments are actually made for that particular week, how many people no-show for their appointments and how many people cancel their appointments.
We’re pulling our data to reinforce the fact that maybe we need to do this — that this is standard in the community and this is something that maybe our patients might want or need. [We’re looking at data from] within our company, but also I’ve talked with people outside of our company that have implemented different software packages to see what their experience is.
How to reach: Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, (513) 354-3700 or www.beaconortho.com