Meeting About Meetings – Can We Audit the Quality of Our Internal Communication?
This is a collaborative piece written by:
Roy Bejarano, Co-Founder & CEO of Scale Physician Group
Jason Schifman, Co-Founder & President of Scale Physician Group
How much time do you spend thinking about the schedule and quality of meetings within your provider platform? It’s not exactly a Saturday night dinner conversation topic, or what industry headlines will focus on. But, at an execution level, the effective and efficient flow of information across your organization is one of the most critical determinants of success and scalability.
In healthcare, we are constantly reminded of how interconnected the provider platform ecosystem is. A few common examples from across our work of how poor information flow between stakeholders can manifest in sub-optimal aggregate performance:
- Poor provider on-boarding processes resulting in weak provider credentialing outcomes that, in turn, cause claim denials, rejections and write-offs.
- Non-transparent financial and performance reporting seeding a culture of physician detachment that, in turn, impairs platform performance financially and otherwise.
- Narrowly managed growth, development and service line expansion efforts versus broader, multidisciplinary committee approaches resulting in delayed or botched execution, as well as material over- and/or under-investment.
- The list goes on…
And yet, while siloed approaches to information flow are highly costly, they are far from uncommon in the provider platform market. Hence the need for a fresh look at your organization’s meeting program.
What is the right meeting formula to foster effective flow of information and execution results?
It may not sound all that complicated at first glance. But, that’s a lot of “rights” that need to be achieved, especially for a topic that often receives limited C-suite attention and that inherently draws upon an organization of diverse personalities, skill sets and work styles.
- Too many meetings…the process becomes a burden. Too few meetings…the initiative loses momentum.
- Too much central control…you miss important insight and diverse perspective. Too little central control…the meeting loses purpose.
- Too few attendees invited…you are potentially lacking in critical expertise that could impact performance results. One meeting attendee invited who is committed to subtly thwarting the target meeting culture…the entire process may get derailed.
In the context of this reality, “solving the formula” is a complicated and delicate art. Here are a few insights from strategies we have seen work across our provider platform network.
Defining The End Goal: Target Communication Flow
Why spend all of this time and effort on meetings? What are the ultimate goals of effective, efficient and structured information flow?
- Build structural scalability into your leadership team
- Gain performance intelligence, as well as de-risk initiatives
- Drive consistent service delivery, as well as on-going performance improvement & innovation
In short, the goal is to cultivate a strong organizational nucleus surrounded by a structure and information flow that enables your platform’s core value proposition to reach all relevant stakeholders.
The Right Meeting Inventory: How Organized is Your Firm-Wide Meeting “Table of Contents”?
It’s easy to lose track of how many channels of communication are required to achieve a healthy flow of information. It’s even easier to lose track of whether or not those meetings are occurring.
Does your organization maintain a platform-wide meeting list? One where every recurring meeting in your organization is considered and accounted for by senior management. Who is meeting with who? How often?
We recommend all platforms contemplate some version of this. Without an organized schedule, it’s difficult to know if the trains are running on-time. Here is an example of what a C-Suite ready firm wide meeting list might look like.
The Right Meeting Agenda: Defining Key Focus Themes
What do you hope to get out of all of these meetings?
Specific initiatives will come and go – overarching strategic themes transcend initiatives, departments and phases of aggregate platform development. We recommend that senior leadership sign-off on recurring focus themes to promote meetings that drive strategic value add takeaways, as well as facilitate general consistency of strategic objectives across meetings. Build an organizational culture that prioritizes themes that matter most.
From there, individual teams can define and manage their own respective meeting line item topics.
Here is an example standardized meeting agenda that can be broadly applied to frame recurring focus themes across functional disciplines, but leaves open the details of the discussion to be defined by the individual teams.
- Status of Key Prior Meeting Agreed Upon Action Items
- Recurring KPI Dashboard
- Discussion of Outlier Performers
- Current Performance Review
- Recent “Wins”
- Open Initiatives Dashboard
- Performance Improvement Opportunities – How Can We Do A Better Job for Our Target Audience(s)?
- Prevailing Performance Obstacles
- Team Building, Morale & Training Initiatives
- Intellectual Property Library
- Sharing of Recent Lessons Learned
- Sharing of Newly Developed Intellectual Property
- Longer-Term Development
- Status of Current Year Target Initiative “Budget Variance”
- Discussion of Any Newly Proposed Longer-Term Initiatives
- Open Team Discussion
The Right Meeting Outputs & Interim Communication: Facilitate Actionable Takeaways & Execution Results
Solving for the agenda is important, but it’s only a piece of the equation. You are ultimately judging success based on execution results.
Do all of your meetings have standardized outputs that cultivate forward momentum and execution results?
Similar to meeting agendas, we encourage senior leadership to take a strong interest in opining on meeting outputs and follow-up communication structures. Again, the line item details can remain with the respective teams. But, support your team leaders by offering a blueprint structure that is correlated with execution success and status transparency.
Here are four components of a blueprint that we have found to be particularly effective.
- Four-week look ahead plan that clearly and granularly defines what we hope will happen near-term. What are the detailed execution steps? When will each be completed to remain on track with the broader, longer-term roadmap? Who is responsible for leading each line item? By defining a contained look-ahead period, you can focus on detailed execution steps, as well as more predictable execution timelines.
- Network-wide initiatives dashboard that benchmarks the status of key initiative roll-out across your network. In the world of multi-site healthcare, it is rare that a platform achieves 100% workflow and results parity across each of the individual sites. Amplify the value generated by wins, lessons learned and intellectual property developed at any one site by converting them into a repeatable performance improvement opportunity across your entire network. Track, celebrate and reward the wins along the way!
- Longer-term initiatives inventory that allows you to catalogue good ideas raised during your meetings that may not be feasible to execute on at the current moment. A running list of value-enhancing initiatives will pay dividends when you find the time is right to take on a new project and get to work on converting an idea into execution results.
- Interim Check-In: Brief interim team check-ins may prove to be helpful. To reduce meeting fatigue, these check-ins generally work best when kept brief and remain contained to initiative status updates versus broader strategy discussions. Interim check-ins can help avoid adverse surprises and lost execution time when you ultimately reconvene at the full formal meeting, as well as address any quick questions that may benefit from broader team input or advice.
Our team at Scale is truly passionate about perfecting communication flow across organizations. It’s a beautiful thing when done right. Most of all, other than commitment and a bit of time, perfecting your meeting program is free and should yield transformational improvement to your business. We are ready to help support your platform in building your meeting inventory and optimizing the flow of information across your organization to drive execution results.