“Why do things have to change? We had the whole system down.”
I was lamenting to my husband about the major change we’re going through in our household of transitioning the twins to table food. Personally, I’d be just fine with continuing to give them jarred foods. They seem to enjoy it, and I know they’re getting the nutrients they need. It’s a win-win.
And stocking up? Easy as pie. I could either buy their food at the store, or order it online through sites like Diapers.com — which, in a brilliant strategic move, enables customers to set up weekly or monthly standing orders. I always knew when the next shipment of Earth’s Best foods would arrive.
Yup, we had a good thing going. But as the Brady Bunch would say, it was time to change (my apologies for getting that song stuck in your head). And so we recently started the process of phasing out pureed foods. Here’s a run-down of some of the highlights:
- My dining room floor is covered in a tarp, which is covered with food.
- The ratio of consumed foods versus rejected foods is something like 1 to 30
- I’ve learned that in addition to being strong-willed, my daughter also has great aim.
- I’ve resorted to bribery, blackmail, and begging — none of which have been effective.
So there you have it. To say we’ve hit some bumps in the road is putting it mildly. But it’s never been my nature to give up. So in addition to asking fellow parents for tips and consulting blogs and articles, I’ve decided to turn to a rather unlikely source — CIOs — for guidance.
I came across a recent piece in which Bill Rieger, CIO at Flagler Hospital, talked about applying parenting tactics to lead an organization through change. I’m going to flip that on its axis and see if I can use his strategy to develop a better parenting plan. His five steps are: vision, buy-in, communication, support, and execution.
- Vision: This one’s easy. My vision is for Austin and Scarlett to consume table food on a regular basis, as soon as possible.
- Buy-in: To make them understand the goal and become invested in its success, I will eliminate the safety net of the back-up jarred food option.
- Communication: I will offer positive reinforcements when they show interest in new foods, and I will be consistent in my message. This is what we’re eating now. Period.
- Support: I will make sure that any caregivers (including babysitters, day care teachers, relatives) stick to the plan.
- Execution: Put on the bibs, lay down the tarp and brace myself.
Sounds great, right? Wrong. There’s one glaring flaw: the entire strategy is completely one-sided. It’s all about what works best for me, and it fails to take into consideration the fact that I might be moving things along too quickly or setting unrealistic expectations. Something tells me Bill Rieger would agree (and would probably question my sanity for trying to apply that strategy to transition babies to table food).
Any leader worth his or her salt knows that things hardly ever go as planned, and that if you’re going to accomplish anything, you have to be able to switch gears and try a different tactic. So I did some more digging and found inspiration from some of the interviews we’ve conducted.
Kirk Kirksey, VP & CIO at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, said it’s important to start small. “You need to assess in your own mind what the culture will allow you to do, how far you can push the culture, and what you can change and what you can’t change… I started too big. I didn’t start in small enough steps. That hurt us in the beginning, but then we figured out what we could change.”
Edward Martinez, SVP & CIO, Miami Children’s Hospital, said, “Part of it is knowing when to say, ‘enough is enough. We can’t go any further.’ And even though you’re getting pressure from the board or from your CEO, you have to go back and say, ‘we just can’t do this right now, and here are the reasons why.’ That’s what the change is about. It’s about knowing when to put the brakes on, knowing when to proceed, knowing where there’s resistance, and knowing how to break it down.”
Jim Turnbull, CIO, University of Utah Health Care, said, “Don’t confuse the willingness to change with the ability to change, and the ability to change and the ability for organizations to be able to absorb that amount of change.”
Don’t be afraid to recruit help. Meritus Health CIO Jake Dorst brought in an expert to help train physicians on the new system. She went above and beyond, traveling to physicians’ homes and sitting with them for hours while they worked out their issues, and it resulted in increased buy-in.
And, perhaps most importantly, remember that sometimes you have to allow for failure, said Rieger. “It’s about allowing people to fail and making sure that’s okay, and helping them when they do fail. But chances are they’re going to hit it — they almost always do.”
Excellent points, and words I plan to take to heart.