Exercising Influence and Stimulating Action

Consultants leverage knowledge, expertise, and communications competency to support decision-makers in considering data and information in ways that reveal rich opportunities for organizations. Some of these opportunities most likely have not previously been envisioned at an operations level because meaningful information has not been available or presented in the past.

 

This module will describe:

What is needed to exercise leadership, power, and influence at the core of the consultant’s leverage,

How to create the conditions and circumstances where information, analysis, and analytic techniques are combined to illuminate opportunities in ways that stimulate action

How to create solid support from administrators, managers, and staff for opportunities for action and implementation that encourage building and presenting stakeholder-specific ROI

 

Exercising Influence and Stimulating Action

A well-considered and integrated use of – emotional intelligence, a variety of leadership styles, and appropriate use of power, will be valuable to the BI/analytics consultant, as a change agent in times of turbulence, such as the current healthcare delivery environment. We will describe each of these attributes and then discuss how their integrated use creates strong leverage for influence.

Much has been written over the past fifteen years about the success of those who work with Emotional Intelligence (EI). High-EI people are able to understand and read, in real time, their own emotions, while simultaneously understanding those of others and subsequently advancing their positions by interacting with greater skill and influence than others. This capability is present even in the heat of the moment, when most individuals would turn to more base-level interpretations of and reactions to themselves, others, and a situation.

 

Personal and Social Competencies

This interactivity will reveal the full set of personal and social competencies. The competencies in blue are those most associated with effective leadership.

 

 

Exercising Influence and Stimulating Action

It can be surmised that building bonds would be helpful as well, in the complex healthcare environment. A key in building bonds is to develop extensive informal networks where mutually beneficial relationships are carefully cultivated. The networks are chosen based on expertise that each member brings to the table and willingness to immediately extend knowledge or expertise any time it is needed. Innovation is not seen as a necessary change agent competency, because the change agent helps others unlock their ideas and work through them

Leadership Styles and Competencies

Goleman asserts that one can develop higher EI competency through practice. Self-tests are available to see where one stands compared to others. EI can be practiced by learning to use the six leadership styles listed on the next slide. Practice of each style sharpens one’s EI in specific competencies. The styles described in the article Six Leadership Styles are straightforward. They should all be used at points where the effect of a specific style is needed. Use in combination is appropriate. We’ll next view a table that links the styles and competencies.

 

The Power Bases

The social skill influence is an EI competency that leaders leverage to get things accomplished. Influence is grounded in the power an individual exercises, according to Kenneth W. Thomas, PhD. Thomas presents six power types, shown below, along with the influence effect each type produces (elaborated on the next slide).

The key aim for the BI/analytics consultant related to influence is to build commitment to an idea, an approach, a KPI, or a new way of looking at or making decisions.

Note the table on the next slide in which the Commitment effect is related to personal power bases – Expertise and Information, which the BI/analytics consultant should have or can build in abundance. Also needed is Compliance from those outside one’s direct control to successfully conduct experiments and launch new analytic approaches. Goodwill, which is at one’s disposal, should also be used to build commitment. Successful use of these power bases relies on communication, to be discussed later.

The six power bases are

Authority

 

One’s formal right to direct others in certain matters and on others’ obligation to follow those directions

Reward

 

One’s control over things others desire.

Discipline

 

One’s formal right to hold others accountable, and impose or enforce negative consequences on others.

 

 

Information

Information

 

Facts or reasoning that one possesses and is able to share convincingly with team members.

Expertise

 

One’s superior judgment or knowledge in a specific area.

Goodwill

 

Feelings of support and respect that one has built with others

Fostering Commitment

Now one has a tool set for action. However, conscious use of the tools must be engaged. The Stakeholder Analysis discussed in Module 2 provides insights into the interests and needs of individuals involved at all organizational levels. From this analysis, one should have a keen appreciation of how to engage EI social competencies. This strengthens political awareness. Action steps, if developed carefully in the stakeholder process, can address political issues and act as power mechanisms of reward and goodwill to foster compliance and commitment. For example, set up the plan for someone who wants a say and participation, so they can participate and talk! They will feel rewarded. Enrolling them in the process through participation because you can (an exercise of goodwill) engages team capabilities. In turn, those drawn in will now exhibit goodwill to others as it has been extended to them, which leads to commitment

 

Other Tools—Sponsorship

One of the other tools to engage in the process is sponsorship. Sponsorship can be defined as fostering transparency and accountability in the group process, again fitting with necessary EI competencies of political awareness, initiative, and influence. Although one may not be engaged in a formal project management (PM) situation, the PM tool of Sponsorship ensures that enough organizational executive influence is available to exert pressure against possible resistance. The diagram on the next slide depicts a possible situation

 

 

A consultant is engaged in an initiative to improve and automate coding decision-making involving the areas indicated by N-Unit A Director. One needs to consider, through a stakeholder analysis, the interests of all parties and develop a plan accordingly. As a part of this plan, one needs to have informal links to the executives as indicated by dashed lines, even though they are not part of the formal process as it was set up.

 

This ensures that the organizational weight can be called upon, if necessary, to ensure compliance and engage discipline. Personal power of information and expertise can be used in these relationships to bring credibility and strength to these non-performance/non-compliance discussions. Transparency is fostered by an open Stakeholders Analysis process in concert with an informal yet, open and active Sponsorship arrangement. Here one is smartly engaging EI, leadership styles (authoritative/pacesetting/maybe coercive), and power in a productive manner

 

Communication is the other tool. It’s important to understand one’s own communication style and preferences and be sensitive to the styles and preferences of others. A number of self-scoring tools are available that can be used to master interpersonal communication skills. Some of these are:

Other Tools—Communication

DiSC profile. This tool illuminates one’s communication preferences (dominant, influencer, steadiness, compliance). When these preferences are known, one can work to understand and interact with others in the context of their preferred styles of communication.

Meyers Briggs Temperament Index. This tool helps individuals and groups understand the basic differences in the ways they prefer to use their perception and judgment.

Kolby Cognitive Index. This tool offers a measure of how people are hardwired to take action in one of four ways – Fact Finder, Follow-through, Quick Start, or Implementer

 

Authoritative

 Exercising Influence and Stimulating Action

Whether using these or other tools, it’s helpful to understand communications preferences and styles in oneself and in team members. The aim is to carefully build a team that is balanced in communication styles to achieve diversity of thought and action. Then continue to hone these skills across the course of the work.

Is it this simple? No. Conscious action is required along with careful and forward-looking networking and preparation. There is no substitute. There are those who might eschew this process as contrived and surreptitious. However, goodwill—the most powerful of the power bases due to the broad spectrum of activities that it influences—is generated when one engages these activities and methods. Goodwill is easily dissipated where transparency and open action are not in force.

 

 

Focus on Performance

Using the approaches discussed earlier for working across the organization at all levels, one can uncover areas and issues of importance that need to be addressed. We have previously focused on continuous operating processes and daily decisions in analytic applications. Now we’ll focus on performance, as viewed using external benchmarks and predictive analytics, to perform “what if” testing and optimization analysis. This latter experiment will deliver predictions of work volume and the organization-defined specific resources needed to provide services for this volume. Two things are revealed—current performance in relation to the benchmark and performance related to the numbers delivered from the what-if experiments.

Here the organization can see if attainment of the benchmark is possible and what it might take to achieve it based on the what-if findings. And the organization can see what is possible today. So decision-making related to targets is, again, in line with the five key “Power Decision” attributes—more targeted, replicable, expeditious, and lower in cost.

Are Policies and Rules in Place?

Also revealed in this type of analysis is whether the organization has the policies in place, and whether actual practice and compliance are in line with these policies, to perform at desired levels. As the predictive analytic experimentation process requires a set of rules by which to make predictions (this is how the organization wants to or should operate), the set of rules by which the organization actually operates becomes clear—the “what-if” questions always prompt the “so what are you doing now” questions. Often it has been found that significant issues with compliance exist and, frequently enough, policies and rules do not exist. They have to be built.

So the experiment reveals two things—the data needed (ADT, clinical, financial, etc., or process performance) and the policies and rules by which the predictions and prescriptions can be made.

Who is Responsible?

As part of moving along this path, one will have performed a stakeholder analysis. This analysis will have revealed another important area of information—who is involved in the chain of events that makes up the item in question, who is ultimately responsible, who executes the item on a daily basis—for example, staffing on nursing floors, or collection decisions, or how the marker for high 30-day readmit risk is actually addressed.

 

One can easily surmise the highly sensitive situation that begins to present itself. The capability and willingness of operating managers at a number of levels might easily be called into question. This is the reason for advance engagement of the stakeholder analysis and plan, EI building bonds, and networking and sponsorship tools, along with involving the operating managers in the experiment development process. In particular, the sponsorship tool calls for finding a sponsor at the highest level who can hold accountable all actors involved in the work. The CFO cannot hold the COO or CNO accountable, therefore the CEO must be the sponsor. If this is not possible, then the initiative should NOT be engaged

 

Communication of the Analytic Process and Information

This complement of participants provides a base for foundational discovery work such as process flowcharting, value stream mapping, and policy/operating practice identification. At the same time, the BI/analytics consultant can teach participants about the work being done and its meaning.

The real payoff is threefold:

A group having a greater level of understanding and analytic sophistication,

An outcome defined in advance in terms the stakeholders understand (negotiating with key stakeholders and managing expectations), and

Policies and practices, whether they are good, or absent, or lacking in performance, will become transparent and can be appropriately addressed

 

Conclusion

Bring the Picture Alive

 

 

Thinking on strategic and tactical levels simultaneously is crucial to working with individuals and groups to collaboratively identify and address agreed-upon opportunities for improving organizational performance. This is the case whether engaging analytics or not. Change leadership competencies in exercising power and influence to build commitment are the foundation for this work. Leveraging analytics brings a further positive dimension to identifying and proving the worth of performance improvement opportunities. However, presentation of stakeholder-specific ROI beyond the familiar financial ROI is necessary and possible in this collaborative framework. Using all analytic types—Descriptive, Predictive, and Prescriptive—enables creativity in “painting a picture” that cannot be ignored and does not result from using other approaches. It is the BI/analytics consultant’s role to bring this picture alive in the organization.

 

Key Points to Remember

As you move on, please keep in mind the following points.

The six leadership styles provide guidance in how to exercise, influence, and stimulate action in different circumstances.

Authoritative

Democratic

Affiliative

Coaching

Pacesetting

Coercive

Performance, as viewed using external benchmarks and predictive analytics to perform “what if” testing and optimization analysis, will deliver predictions of work volume and the organization-defined specific resources needed to provide services for this volume.

The real payoff when involving directors, managers, or other staff members in the experiment design process is threefold:

The group will have a greater level of understanding and analytic sophistication,

An outcome will be defined in advance in terms the stakeholders understand (negotiating with key stakeholders and managing expectations), and

Policies and practices, whether they are good, or absent, or lacking in performance, will become transparent and can be appropriately addressed.

Working with clinical informaticists will likely lead to much richer experimentation and analysis, such as investigation, singularly or in combination, of particular clinical factors, interventions, processes, outcomes, etc., related to ‘operational’ aspects such as unit coverage, timing of shifts, availability of supplies, etc.

 

Conclusion

 

Conclusion

 

  • “Come with me”
  • Mobilizes people toward a vision

Authoritative

 

  • “Come with me”
  • Mobilizes people toward a vision

 

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