I collect quotations. This habit started many years ago when I was part of a group of hospital managers tasked with sending out a daily inspirational leadership quotation. Even after that initiative fizzled away, I personally continued collecting daily inspiration. I came across a quote from a person outside of the Health Information Management world that spoke loudly to me. Colleen Houck is a New York Time’s bestselling author of the Tiger’s Curse series and her words of wisdom are: “You must learn to take a step back and visualize the whole piece. If you focus only on the thread given you, you lose sight of what it can become.” While young adult literature might be an odd place to look for HIM leadership, envisioning, and innovation, her message is clear – take a step back and visualize.

There are times when we need to take a step back so we can lead. Sometimes we get so involved in the busy-ness of our work that we run on auto-pilot rather than with a vision

of the future. Especially in times of tremendous change for HIM professionals, stepping back and being observant can help us innovate change rather than react to change. But how do we do this with the myriad of tasks that must be accomplished each day? We make a conscious effort to observe and listen to the answers to our questions.

Both observation and listening must be thoughtful and active. One way to approach this is to intentionally decide to observe work processes and ask staff members to describe the processes to you. Using the framework of people, process, and technology you will be able to evaluate how your staff members accomplish their work each day. This is an especially good approach to take following implementation or replacement of technology within your department. Asking staff members to demonstrate processes and actively listening to their descriptions of their work can provide many clues to possible workarounds that may have been developed, access issues, or retraining that may be needed.

However, thoughtful and active observation and listening does not need to be reserved for major change such as technology implementations. There are multiple processes, to include our own work tasks that would benefit from this evaluation. This is a leadership practice that helps clarify vision for the future by stepping back and understanding the work occurring around us.



Senior Consultant

Lisa Fink is a Senior Consultant with the Haugen Consulting Group. She brings over 30 years of progressive, professional health care experience in all Health Information Management (HIM) domains. Her diverse background in health care includes operational and strategic experience in HIM, Revenue Cycle, Quality Improvement, Utilization Review, Credentialing, Accreditation, Information Technology, and Consulting. As a consultant, Lisa has experience in department assessment and improvement projects, interim management, ICD 10 analysis, planning, and implementation, and technology implementation. She looks for opportunities to work with others to solve business problems and achieve results.

Lisa is a life-long learner, practitioner, and mentor in leadership. She has held has held all seats on the Board of her AHIMA Component State Association and looks for opportunities to mentor others on their leadership journey.


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