This Holiday season my wife and I decided to visit my in-laws in the frozen tundra of upstate NY with our 4 children. Why we would leave the beautiful Las Vegas winter for upstate NY can only be explained by love. Although, we’ve been richly blessed since the weather in Las Vegas has been colder than upstate NY. Someone’s watching out for us. However, you can imagine that a trip with 4 children between the ages of 2-10 is a non-stop experience.
As I thought over what the holidays are like with 4 children in someone else’s house over the holidays, I could see a lot of parallels with health IT leadership. Having 4 kids during the holidays really means that you’re always on edge watching and waiting for the next fire. Yes, I often feel like a fireman that’s in charge of putting out lots of fires created by the children. Although, sometimes it takes the form of chief hostage negotiator as you try and negotiate something with a 5 year old. It’s an all encompassing experience that doesn’t leave much time for sitting back and enjoying the holidays.
Most people I know in healthcare IT are in a similar situation. They’re so overwhelmed by the number of large projects they have on their plate that they don’t have even a second to sit back and survey their work. There are so many fires to put out that they don’t have time to really find the root cause of the fire so they can put it out. The idea of sitting back and surveying and appreciating the journey seems out of the question.
Much like with my children, if I don’t take any time to really understand what’s happening, it’s going to lead to a bad place. You have to take time to evaluate what’s happened and figure out the best way forward. If you don’t, your life will be miserable.
I’ve also learned with my family that it’s important to rely on others. In my family’s case, sometimes this is my wife. Other times my in-laws or a trusted babysitter. In the work environment, you need to have people you trust to “babysit” your projects while you take some time off. Sometimes that’s time off to set the strategic direction for your organization. Other times it’s time off to just have a break from work so you can return back with fresh eyes and a renewed soul.
Another lesson learned is to keep things in perspective. It’s easy to go off on my kids when they do something wrong. However, that easy knee jerk reaction is often detrimental to them and to me. Keeping the impact of what they did in perspective is vital to getting ahead of the curve. The same is true in health IT leadership. Make sure you really understand the impact of someone’s actions or decisions before you make your decision. Blowing up on someone over something trivial just creates a culture that is afraid to do anything. That paralyzes the organization and leads to major problems.
Those are a few of the lessons I’ve been thinking about this holiday season. The great part is that I love my children and really have an amazing opportunity to impact their life for good. Turns out that we have that same opportunity in healthcare as well. We just have to stop frantically trying to keep our head above water and instead relax and devise a thoughtful go-forward strategy.