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What we can learn about change in your veterinary practice from the Comm Games Closing Ceremony

Posted in Management @ Apr 19th 2018 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
What We Can Learn About Change From The Comm Games Closing Ceremony

I should start by saying that in general, I like change.

When change offers an opportunity to improve, update and move forward, I think it's good.

Except when it’s not.

Change for change sake is rarely good and can be just plain frustrating for those who were quite happy with the way things were. Especially if things were working well and there was no operational, safety or other obvious reason to make the change.

Which leads me to the recent Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony.

The organisers decided to not make a feature of the athletes entering the stadium and instead focused on musical and dance performances. Rather than have the athletes parading around the stadium before taking their seats, they were ushered into the stadium in a low-key manner before the transmission of the event began on tv.

The reason given for this change in the traditional Closing Ceremony format, was so the athletes did not have to stand, waiting for an hour or so before entering the stadium. But I have to wonder, did anyone take the time to consult with the stakeholders before this decision was made?

Your stakeholders are the MOST important people

As far as the Closing Ceremony goes the stakeholders were the athletes, the members of the public who purchased tickets to attend the ceremony, the TV stations who transmitted the event and the public watching around the world.

I suspect the only stakeholder out of this group who were consulted (if any) were the TV stations and this was obvious from the universal panning of the event. I accept that you can never make everyone happy but the widespread condemnation of the event all had the same theme – we wanted to see the athletes celebrating at the end of an awesome Games event. We like seeing them dancing, mingling with athletes from other countries, mugging for the camera and shouting out “Hi Mum!”.

So, what does this have to do with your veterinary practice and change?

If you come up with an idea that you think is an improvement on an existing product and service, then one of the first things you need to do is consult with all your stakeholders.

This means you need to:

1. Explain the current situation,

2. Explain why you believe the change is required, 

3. Explain the change and how you think stakeholders will be affected

And then this is the important part…

4. LISTEN to the feedback (even if it's not what you want to hear).

You may find that all stakeholders are perfectly happy with the way things are. Or you may find that they thought they were happy until they heard your new idea, and now they’re keen to see something new and different. Either way, as long as you LISTEN, you’ll soon find out whether your new idea is a brilliant innovation or a world class fail – just like the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony.


lisa blair @ Apr 21st 2018 5:48pm
Hey Judy, Good points, well made. Although in practice it's not quite that easy. Unfortunately what people say they want, and what they are prepared to actually do are often out of alignment. Studies show people "want" vets to offer preventative care for their pet. But when wellness plans, or routine visits are suggested the client finds that difficult. People "want" their overweight pet to lose weight. The actual implementation of diet restriction and exercise is hard. The idea of something is very different to the implementation of it and sometimes just asking what stakeholders want gives you a false idea of what they are prepared to actually do.
Judy @ Apr 23rd 2018 12:04pm
Hi Lisa, thanks for your comment and I completely agree that often, any sort of change can be difficult. In the post above I was referring more to the change of existing operational systems or services. e.g. change of operational hours, introduction of a new process or service, etc. With regards to your suggestions of wellness plans, weight management, etc. that's a different sort of change. From a client's perspective Tony Robbins quote might fit: "Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change." So for an overweight pet, it's much easier for an owner to keep the status quo. "If I feed him less he cries or is unhappy and I don't have the time to walk him." The only way for the 'pain' for the pet owner to increase enough for them to want to make the change is through a consistent message of the health implications and shortened life span that is the result of a pet being overweight (or worse, the pet starts to suffer from some of these implications). As this isn't information a pet owner wants to hear (it makes them feel guilty & therefore uncomfortable) they may, as much as possible, continue to block it out. And some will continue to block it out forever. And you're right - some people might like the 'idea' of something e.g. a wellness plan but not the pain (for them) of actually doing it e.g. the financial 'pain' of paying for it. And of course we're dealing with people - so theory is never perfect as people are so complex!

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