Quint Studer | Act on facts, not assumptions

When it’s time to move forward, it’s best to act based on facts, not guesswork. In my experience, knowing the facts usually leads to better results. When we have data about a situation, we are more likely to know what to do next. That doesn’t mean we won’t miss the mark sometimes, but actions based on facts are always better than actions based on assumptions.

It is always useful for organizations to have good studies and research on a variety of key indicators: employee engagement, customer experience (or in healthcare, patient experience), workforce well-being, stress, trauma levels, etc. The same is true in the community. revitalization. That’s why I recommend a quality of life survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy for communities that want to be the best place to live.

Recently, Katie Boston-Leary, PhD, MBA, MHA, RN, of the American Nurses Association, and I presented at the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s large Magnet and Pathway to Excellence conference. Our presentation was based on two studies investigating health care delivery models. When the results were presented, the participants applauded. It wasn’t that things were going well. It was that there were facts on which to base decisions. It is best to take the time to diagnose any situation before deciding on the best action to take (or not take). It is essential to make the correct diagnosis.

Think about what happens when we receive medical care. We can go on a date with our assessment of the situation. Based on what we say, the healthcare professional may be able to make a solid estimate of health status and best treatment. However, additional tests are being carried out. At a recent appointment with my primary care physician, we spent time reviewing the PET scan results, as well as the blood and urine results. It makes sense not to jump to conclusions. Data is what creates the plan going forward.

The fact-based diagnosis was the topic of a recent conversation with community leaders in Thibodaux, Louisiana. They had read my book Building a Vibrant Community. I invited André Breaux from Lafayette, Louisiana, to join us. Lafayette Parish is doing incredible things in creating a great place to live. When asked where to start, Andre discussed how his city began its journey by completing the Vibrant Community Assessment and Quality of Life Survey.

I received a call from Kevin Robinson, a reporter for the Pensacola News Journal. The subject was the completion of the 15th Annual Escambia County, Florida Quality of Life Survey. He asked me why I paid to have this survey done every year. My response was that I was tired of people making general statements not based on fact. Sometimes such statements have led to actions being initiated or stopped when this was probably not necessary. Of course, people have every right to say what they feel. Difficulties arise when their perception is presented as if it represents more people than themselves. When someone makes a statement like “Everyone is happy,” “No one is happy,” or “Morale has really improved,” it’s often a red flag. Where is the evidence ?

From last week: Take the time to thank those who make a difference in your life | Quint Studer

Here are some tips and ideas:

1. When people make general statements or share their perceptions, ask for the data. Yes, people’s individual perceptions can be very useful; however, perceptions do not always match reality. People sometimes misrepresent how much feedback they actually have. I find that without data there can be guesswork. When someone makes a general statement, ask for clarification. An elected official told me he had received “a lot” of emails on a certain subject. I asked how much was “a lot”. There were ultimately three.

2. Don’t fight the data or be angry with the messenger. The study I presented with Katie Boston-Leary showed that having nurse leaders in staffing is an unsatisfactory element for nurses. Not everyone will like this news. Yes, it will cost more if nurses don’t have to carry a load of patients. It is worth it because they are then available to support staff and patients.

In communities, quality of life studies can show both facts people like and facts they don’t like. This can lead to rationalizations. For example, data may show that, overall, citizens believe public safety is a problem. Officials may have facts indicating that the crime rate is falling. Both are correct. It is up to public authorities to implement actions to make citizens understand that the crime rate is falling. Another explanation is that this perception is due to something happening nationally. Quality of life data and dynamic community assessment can enable city-to-city comparisons.

3. Getting the right diagnostics is a great investment. When a leader says they aren’t measuring key employee experience outcomes or conducting quality of life surveys because of expense, that’s a red flag. I see organizations with budgets in the millions, or even hundreds of millions, using expenses as a reason not to measure employee engagement and other satisfaction metrics. In my experience, money is found for the things that boards and executives deem important. I think people are important. They are still worth investing in.

Measurement is our friend. This can prevent us from spending our time, energy, and money on “B” issues rather than “A” issues. This can avoid bad results. This may lead to earlier interventions. Good results can be celebrated. Valuable lessons can be learned so that mistakes are not repeated in the future.

The best leaders, organizations and communities measure what matters and take action based on the results. The world isn’t perfect and we won’t always get there, but knowing the facts means we can move forward with more confidence that we’re going in the right direction.

Quint Studer is the founder of Studer Community Institute and co-founder of Healthcare Plus Solutions Group, a consulting firm specializing in providing customized solutions to diagnose and treat healthcare organizations’ most pressing issues. He is the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller “The Busy Leader’s Handbook: How to Lead People and Places That Thrive,” and his latest book is Sundays with Quint,” a collection of 52 weekly leadership columns from Quint sharing practical advice on everyday issues that affect leaders at all levels.

The new book is available for purchase at sundaywithquint.com and proceeds will support CivicCon, a partnership with the News Journal to provide civic education and solutions to common issues in American communities.

Have a question?

Are you facing a small business or workplace challenge? Quint Studer can help you. Send your questions by email to quint@quintstuder.comand this could be the subject of one of Studer’s next columns.


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