Anyone who has ever worked in a management or leadership role in the NHS will be extremely familiar with the scenario of too much to do and too little time.
Like everyone else I got caught up in the urgency of the next meeting, target, crisis or problem. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight if I was to do something different it would have been to create the time and space to think.
Now you might be thinking that this is a bit idealistic. I am not going to pretend it is easy. At the same time it is only you who can make it a reality.
Now to be clear I am not suggesting sitting for hours planning. What I am suggesting is that sufficient time is set aside to discuss debate and resolve important issues. To consider not just what needs to be done right now but also to look at the longer term implications.
So what are the benefits of creating time and space to think?
You Think Before You Act
It is easy to be reactive all of the time. It gets things fixed. Or does it merely put a sticking plaster over the issue which eventually falls off and you have to deal with again. Stopping and thinking won’t eliminate the need to be reactive but should reduce the amount of re-work.
You Make Better Decisions
Which of these scenarios is going to produce the best outcome?
Scenario 1: You quickly run through the options and make an instance decision.
Scenario 2: You look at the issue. You consider the options. You assess the pros and cons of each option. You consider what has worked elsewhere.
Reality is an approach like scenario 2 is likely to produce a better decision.
You Involve Others
What is one of the biggest reasons why solutions you identify never get implemented?
Chances are it is because the solution was imposed on people, rather than being presented and discussed with them. Now there will be times when there really is no alternative to imposing. These situations should however be in the minority. We all know that getting buy-in and support makes things happen.
You Really Learn From Mistakes
Hindsight is great at telling you after the event where you went wrong. At the same time we all probably appreciate that when we take time to reflect on what happened, what went well, what went wrong and what we could do differently in the future, our mistakes lead to real learning.
The Bottom Line: No one is ever going to hand you a block of time for thinking. You have to make it a priority and make it happen.
Duncan Brodie is Managing Director of Goals and Achievements and helps healthcare leaders and managers achieve more success. Learn more here.