The 10 Transition Mistakes You Think You’re Too Smart to Make

Building a new facility — a hospital, for instance — is only the first step in transforming an organization. Next comes the tricky part: moving in. The approach to transitioning into and activating a new facility is shaped by an organization’s time constraints, resource availability, strategic priorities and culture. After investing millions, or perhaps hundreds of millions, of dollars and years of planning and construction there are still a million moving parts to think about and coordinate for the final act, or the “first patient day.”

By then, much time will have passed since the initial meetings. Memories may have grown dim, and a more inclusive engagement of additional constituents, other staff, volunteers and community members, as well as patients and families, will have gained in importance. There suddenly is a cast of hundreds who must be considered. Never is the balancing act more delicate: all staff, clinical and non-clinical, need opportunities to be a part of the process, to be informed and oriented to their new environment, and to rehearse new processes and new technologies. In what may be the biggest change ever undertaken in their careers, they’ll need confidence, competence and enthusiasm. There will be no opportunity for a “do-over.”

Do you have the right team to oversee your transition, and are they asking the right questions, with the proper focus and rigor, to ensure that your organization is indeed navigating the right course for a safe, efficient transition?

Here are some of the primary mistakes I’ve seen:

  1. Handing the responsibility over to a department leader who has never facilitated a large-scale activation or “go-live” before.
  2. Delaying or deferring the work, or planning to organize it in the last 6 months before the actual move.
  3. Failing to develop a structure for accountability, collaboration and timely communications.
  4. Assuming that departments have coordinated and integrated their operational plans to ensure safe, efficient transitions and patient moves.
  5. Ignoring important constituents and stakeholders who have unique insights, expertise and points of view.
  6. Losing out on philanthropic opportunities (such as naming lobbies, departments or spaces) or community support.
  7. Missing opportunities to improve operations or remove inefficiencies.
  8. Neglecting to anticipate the behavioral changes necessary to sustain new practice habits.
  9. Refusing to test assumptions or leave adequate time to refine, re-test, practice and rehearse.
  10. Skipping over FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) backup plans — something you don’t expect to happen will happen!

If you can go to sleep tonight with the confidence that these are NOT mistakes your organization will make and that your transition will be a smooth, positive experience — congratulations! Your staff have never worked so hard. Chances are you already have a plan to celebrate success and a job well done.