This week’s episode is the second in a three-part series about getting projects back on track. Part 2 focuses on how to blend creativity and analysis, a.k.a. the “art and science” involved in project development. Creativity sometimes benefits from the addition of constraints instead of having wide open spaces. In this episode, learn keys to gathering team feedback, bypassing assumptions, and clarifying the right problems that you’re trying to solve.
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Announcer: It’s time to think differently about healthcare, but how do we keep up? The days of yesterday’s medicine are long gone, and we’re left trying to figure out where to go from here. With all the talk about politics and technology, it can be easy to forget that healthcare is still all about humans. And many of those humans have unbelievable stories to tell. Here, we leave the policy debates to the other guys and focus instead on the people and ideas that are changing the way we address our health. It’s time to navigate the new landscape of healthcare together and hear some amazing stories along the way. Ready for a breath of fresh air? It’s time for your paradigm shift.
Michael: Welcome to the “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare,” and thank you for listening. I’m Michael Roberts here today with co-hosts, Scott Zeitzer and Jared Johnson. Today’s episode is the second in a three-part series about getting projects back on track. You know, we’ve been talking about just all the different ways that workflow and projects and all of those kinds of things have changed because of everybody working remotely, living in COVID times, living in all these different things, things have changed and your workflow really matters in this time. And, you know, the bigger a project is, the more likely it is to get derailed along the way, and delays can be very pricey. So, how do we exceed expectations and overcome some of these obstacles? That’s what we’re discussing in this series. So, if you haven’t checked out part one, go back, take a listen. That’s on episode 82. Today, we’re discussing how to blend creativity and analysis, or, you know, in some other lingo, the art and science involved in any kind of project development. Guys, part two of the series. Thank you for joining me.
Scott: It’s a pleasure.
Michael: Awesome. So, this was actually a conversation that I was having recently with somebody that works on our team about how creativity sometimes benefits from having constraints on it, instead of these kind of wide open spaces. You know, this is where you can really bring in things like analytics or feedback from customers or stakeholders that really can provide some constructs around what you’re trying to do, right? So, it’s not just, “Hey, designer, go design something, programmer, just go program something out.” But, “Hey, this is the problem we’re trying to solve,” right? So, that’s kind of constraint number one is the problem we’re trying to solve. The next constraint being, this is how people have tried to do it in the past, and this is what kind of feedback we’re getting from people when that happens.
So, then you’re starting to create something and build something that’s much more targeted. You’re really kind of creative problem-solving, right? Like, you’re kind of blending these two skillsets together. So, when you get into that, the opposite way of kind of coming into that process, and, you know, instead of having these real constraints based on real information is to just have a whole bunch of assumptions about how people behave and about how people do these things. So, let’s talk a little bit, and we can talk about a lot of different projects where we’ve kind of done this kind of stuff, but where have we really seen the value of like actual data versus like assumptions that we may have come into a project, you know, and this could be whether this was on a marketing project or more on an application development project?
Scott: Sometimes a little bit of both. You know, I was thinking about that while you were speaking about the value of feedback and how critical it was, I think to each generation of the P3 platform. You know, the websites that we create for surgeons’ practices, you start to make assumptions without data points. And when you start getting those data points, you’re very surprised at what you see. And I think it helped us develop a better product with each new rollout of the platform. One of my favorite examples was, we thought it was always great that so many people went to the main doctor page, we had listed all the doctors, and everybody was patting us on the back, like, “Look at all the people going to that page.”
And when we started really digging into the data, we were realizing like, “No, they’re just frustrated that they can’t find the one doctor that they want.” And we were like, “Okay, how do we get them quicker to the doctor that they want?” You know, when we were getting the feedback, and all of a sudden we were getting more appointments filled out and more contact us forms filled out and more of the right doctor’s pages being viewed. Do you remember that, Michael? Because that was very eye-opening for us.
Michael: For sure. For sure. Yeah. A lot of going to check on each doctor and understand all their specialties better and then coming back to the main page where they could go back and look at another doctor, and yeah, that’s just a frustrating experience for everyone. I think one of the screen, you know, capture kinds of things that we were using, HIPAA compliant, of course. One of those systems that we were using, you know, as like a basic indicator of how happy they view the person that, it was some very unhappy faces on that particular session. So, yeah. That’s something.
Scott: I do want to say as the owner of the company, HIPAA compliant, and yes, we fixed those things and now we have happy faces, but that’s that feedback part, you know. And so, sometimes it’s as simple as like voice of the customer so to speak, or what end users are using. And sometimes it’s also feedback, like when you’re working with a larger company, feedback from the team itself and the powers that be, that becomes a critical component as well. And you need to have a mix of different types of surveys depending on who the customer is. And so, what I mean by that is, the customer, we always think of the customer like, let’s just say, getting back to us making websites say for surgeons, you have a customer who’s a surgeon, you have a customer who is the patient, and then you’ve got a set of customers that all work for us, Michael, you know, our team.
Michael: Sure. Sure.
Scott: Because they’re customers too. We’ve got to go back and say, “Hey, this is what’s happening.” Getting back to that, you know, that conversation about workflow and selling and communicating what you’re doing and why, and because if you do that, you’ll get a better output. All those things need to take place, you know, in order to be successful. And I think some of the best marketing that I’ve been seeing lately out of the last decade has been this, like getting those data points and really making some great decisions based on those data points.
Michael: I’ll talk about some of our internal experiences around this kind of stuff. We’ve got a collection of different types of personalities, like every company out there, right? Hopefully, you don’t have the same personality over and over because…
Scott: I couldn’t agree more with you.
Michael: …that’s problematic in a different way. But, you know, so we’ve got a mix of different personalities. So, we talk about, you know, you mentioned like a mix of surveys and mix of ways to gather team feedback. When we get in a meeting space online, you know, right now, but when we get together in various formats, like, certain people are going to speak up a lot more than others. Certain people are going to be able to contribute different kinds of information. So, just having a meeting, right? Means that Scott’s going to talk a lot because that’s Scott’s personality and that’s how you get information out, how you take information, and that’s all good. And then you’ve got everybody else in the room works for you. So, nobody’s going to contradict you in a way that would cause extra friction, right? I think that we can have healthy disagreement in a conversation, but there’s a certain way that when the boss speaks up and says, “I think it’s this way,” you know, some people feel comfortable saying like, “No, I don’t really think so.” And then some people don’t. You know, not everybody’s at that level of comfort.
So, you know, one of the things that we did to deal with that more directly and to have that sort of mix of data was send out like survey monkey kinds of surveys internally and say, “Hey, you know, in your experience, what do you think of this, this, and this? How do you see customers reacting to these kinds of things?” And we had a really big variety of feedback around that. And I think probably even more so than we’ve had in the past when we just relied on meetings, because, after a while, there’s just meeting fatigue and everybody’s just trying to get out of the meeting at some point. And so, it’s like, “Yeah, sure. That’s fine. Like, let’s all agree to that.”
Scott: I agree with you, Michael.
Michael: And nobody wins on that.
Scott: I do pontificate quite a bit. I think in my Slack profile, I think something like I’m head cheerleader or something like that. And so, I hope no one’s scared of me at the company, but they certainly see my excitement in trying to push something and they don’t want to get in the way, so to speak. And I beg people, please, please argue with me, tell me what you think, etc. And some people will, people who’ve known me longer, been with the company longer. But then you’re right, there’s just a lot of introverted people that, you know, even if they agree with you, they don’t want to talk. Being able to get that feedback through a variety of different mechanisms has been really helpful to us.
The other thing too in a different sort of way, you know, doing voice of the customer surveys, so to speak, very important. You know, if you think about it, for any company as you want to go develop something, whether you’re the orthopedic surgeon trying to communicate with the patient, whether you’re the medical device company trying to communicate with the surgeon or the patient via the surgeon, or whether you’re us trying to communicate with everybody, there’s different ways that you need to say what you’re saying. And sometimes you got to take a step back and get some feedback from them about, am I coming across correctly to you? Because there’s a lot of inferred knowledge that may not be…you know, that I may be viewing that there’s a lot more inferred knowledge than there really is. Or I may be saying it in such a way that I’m not explaining well because I’m going down a pathway that’s similar to what they understand, but not really.
I don’t think any doctors think they market anything, but then they’ll come back to me and say, “We don’t market. We don’t do any marketing, but I want to know how to do our Facebook campaign better. And how do I talk to primary care physicians better?” And in my head I’m going, “That’s marketing.” But I get it. That’s not the way you think of it, you’re just trying to be a good person talking about how to help somebody better, but that’s marketing, right? But how you say it, when you say it, where you said, all those things are critical.
Jared: Right. So, this really is a blend of art and science, like both of you have mentioned before, and not even just when we’re talking about data, but like how these meetings go, like how the communication goes, because there still needs to be something more than, “Well, I think it should be green. I think it should be red.” You know, like there’s still has to be…even in a lot of the decision-making along the way, there has to be something to base it on. Okay, well, we’ve got some, you know, whether it is, if it’s survey-based, that’s a great way, you know, recognizing that there are a lot of different tools, quantitative versus qualitative feedback.
The point is, if you find yourselves getting in that war of opinions without anything to back it up on either side and, you know, you are reading the virtual room, the Zoom call now or whatever, now the Teams call or whatever, and you are seeing people just, it’s easier to actually, I think, to see if people are not engaged anymore, but you have to pay attention to that and ask specifically, recognizing that there’s still some people that, no matter what, even if they don’t feel necessarily, you know, scared of what the reaction is, they just don’t want to share it in front of other people.
And so, that suggestion of letting people fill out a survey on their own, there’s a lot to be said for things like that because, quite simply, you’re going to get different feedback depending on the tool you use. And to recognize that, “Hey, well, I gave everyone a chance, you know, they could’ve spoken up at the meeting, that must mean they don’t feel passionately about it. That must mean that they, you know, tacitly agree with me.” That’s a fallacy in the way that we approach our meetings.
Scott: I couldn’t agree more, Jared. You know, running a company where a huge component, a percentage of those people are introverted programmers and saying, making a statement like, “Well, I gave you a chance to talk over me,” and people listening to this podcast now, “Hey, I talk a lot.” So, that’s completely unfair. And, you know, I personally feel like I’ve hired a lot of really bright, intelligent people. I want to know what they think and what they say and anything that will help bring that out, to the point, Michael, how many times have I said, like, “I don’t want to be on this meeting. I’m going to slow it down, man. You guys meet, work out the details, report back to me from a big picture perspective about where we are.” I say it on a consistent basis.
Michael: Everybody, I always appreciate that you tune in, that you’re listening to the show here. I wanted to let you know that we have set up a new newsletter that you can get to at paradigmshift.health, that’s paradigmshift.health. You can go there. And the reason that we’ve got this newsletter is that we like to send out a few extra pieces of information with the show. We also have a full transcript for every single episode that we do. And we can let you know that through email, we can let you know also if we have like a good quote card to be able to show for every episode. So, check that out if you’d like, paradigmshift.health. Thanks so much.
Michael: To take this a step further, guys, because I mean, this is definitely something that we deal with a lot internally, something we think about a lot internally. You know, I think something that a lot of our audience can relate to is trying to work with physicians and making sure that the thing that you’ve built for them is doing what they wanted to do. Are you getting the type of interaction and feedback that you want? And one of the things that we see in working with, you know, through P3, through working with applications that we build out and that sort of thing is sometimes just because somebody said that they wanted a feature doesn’t mean that they’re actually going to use it.
This is a story that we see play out a lot of times. And so, again, going back to the sort of art and science and going back to these different forms of feedback that you can get, there is the value in that one-on-one conversation, there’s a value in hearing what somebody has to say, but then there’s the value in going back to the analytics. You know, one of the applications that we’ve built is about, you know, post-procedural data and the ways that physicians are going back in and reviewing the procedure and getting all sorts of information from that.
And so, there’s a lot of information about, well, you know, should we build this feature out? Should we build that out? Are they using this particular set of things? So, all of that information goes into what the art, what the programming, what the new creation process is going to look like. It needs to be this sort of cyclical process of creating something new, seeing how people are interacting with it, and then feeding that back into the creation process. Same thing that we’re talking about here with meetings and with continuing to build out things internally as well. So, this is something that, like, whether this is you trying to figure out how to manage your own team or whether this is something where you’re trying to build something for the physician, for the patient, whatever that may be, this is a very similar kind of thinking that needs to happen.
Scott: Yeah. And, you know, getting back to Jared’s point about data points, have reasons. You know, the question that keep coming up for me is why, why do you feel that way? Why? Right? And so, when Jared was saying like, you know, you’re getting into that conversation, like you were talking, Jared, like you’re arguing back and forth and neither person has any data points. It’s like, well, you’re going to go around in circles because there’s nothing to back up this conversation. And I have found, you know, dealing with surgeons who are usually the people who…every once in a while, you find somebody who, you know, got a master’s in English, you know, rather than the standard science background before they went to med school, etc. Normally, they’re very process-oriented science type of guys. And if you go to that person with some real significant data points, they’ll go, “Oh, yeah. All right. You know, I would have thought that everybody clicks over here, but you’re showing me that, you know, you’ve tested this 150 times, and 148 times they don’t go there, they go here. I’ve never had anybody argue with me about it.” They go, “Oh, those are good data points. That’s cool.” You know, and they want to see more.
And those data points allow you to have a better conversation, allow you to make better decisions. And, you know, when you get into those arguments, Jared, that you were talking about, like not arguments, but passionate conversation, when you’ve got data points, it allows for a clear and more defined conversation rather than an argument.
Jared: Right. And like you were saying that, it’s funny because then you never know if somebody gets into that exact conversation when you’re like, yeah, it’s 148 out of 150 and you’re going to find somebody in the room that’s like, “Well, it’s not 150 out of 150.” And like it just derails you even further. So, it’s still, you know, slightly tongue-in-cheek, but point being, know how to use the data, understand what it’s actually saying, and understand what story is being told by it. That’s an important part of bringing data into the discussion. And, you know, another part of where the discussion tends to go is just this thought of how you use IT in any other type of organization. So, if you think about the internal divisions, especially of a larger company, then it can be really easy to look to them, to the IT team to provide all the answers to all of your challenges because, hey, it’s a tech product. It’s software, it’s an application, you know, so IT must know everything about it. And that could put them at a disadvantage to say the least.
I mean, especially if they haven’t been involved in a project, I mean, how many times has a project been delivered at some stage, you know, some milestone and somebody along the way is like, “Yeah, let me just check in with IT on that part because it’s not working the way I thought it would?” And IT is like, “I’ve never seen this thing in my life.”
Scott: Yeah. That is definitely something that happens every now and then. And it’s one of those things, coming from an IT background, whenever we have a group of marketers in a room and we’re talking about some major application, please, please get the IT team in towards the beginning, not towards the end. Because to your point, Jared, you don’t want to build an entire application and then have the IT team go, “We have no way to support this, man.” It’s one thing for that to happen at a group of five people and somebody say, well, I guess we’re going to spend that money on whatever. I’ll make it up, the Amazon cloud, whatever. And it’s completely…when you’re working for a very large company and they go, “No, there’s no way that we’re going to be able to afford rolling this out to 800 people on this platform. You know what the cost is to do that?” You don’t want to have that kind of conversation.
Michael: Exactly. So, yeah. There are so many other examples of bringing IT in early in the conversation. If nothing else, sometimes it’s a really quick check-in to say, “Hey, we don’t think there’s anything you’ll have to worry about this, but the fact is you might get questions because it’s a platform, it’s an app.” You know, so, just being aware. I remember having those types of conversations previously and even just that courtesy they’re like, “Okay, so, yeah, just keep us in the loop. You know, glad you at least let us know that. And actually glad we don’t have to do anything right now.” Like that’s still better than being, you know, surprised later on.
Scott: And now they’re giving some direction, like, “That’s great that you want to create an app, and I’m just going to be silly that’s going to do jumping jacks for you. Here are the parameters that it has to be designed under and we can support it. Like, I don’t have the team to make that now. I get it that it’s important to you and you’ve got budget for it. That’s great. And as long as you build it with these boundary conditions and why don’t you have, you know, their IT people talk to our team just to make sure on the back end that everything’s going to play nicely.” Man, that is, you know, where you save significant time and effort. And it is that island conversation. You know, I always talk to people about that like, “Get off the island, man.” You know, and that could be not even a marketing versus IT versus sales thing, it could be just a group of marketers in a room talking about how they’re going to interact with patients. I can’t tell you how many times this comes up. And all the other marketing people basically deal with product marketing, happens a lot in medical device companies and pharma companies where the entire company basically talks about the product or the pill, you know?
And there’s this one person or two that basically talks about how to sell that product or pill to the patient. And they’re often this little island, like their little lab, and then they got to go back later, you know, and explain themselves to the rest of the marketing team. It would be much more valuable if they actually brought this up in the beginning. And that goes back to the first of our two parts of like, what are the big picture items and how do you sell that conceptually up the chain and down the chain, shall we say? All these things are critical and important and getting data points to help explain those steps, yeah, big part.
Michael: You know, going back to this concept of the IT team that’s like out there trying to support and build and trying to field all these different requests that are coming in, you know, we’ve definitely interacted with some teams that have been informed after everything was over that, “Oh, we now have this new application,” or, “We’re now using this new system.” And somehow we have to cram it in to the existing systems that are in there. And then there are some times where, yeah, like where it’s just like a brand new build and how are you possibly going to put that stuff together? There is this point of IT being able to help advise on what those parameters should be, but it isn’t IT’s job to understand the business needs of every single organization, right? Like of every single project, of every single organization. Yeah, they should try to support and try to work with and try to bridge those gaps wherever possible, but at a certain point, you do kind of exceed what’s possible for any IT team to be able to keep up with.
Working with people that have specifically been in that particular scenario before, you know, so you’re talking about trying to get a project scoped out correctly, trying to get the project like off to the right direction from the beginning, or sometimes, and we’ve been in this spot, coming in after the project is already going, and you’re trying to get it back on the right page. But working with people that have been there before, that can kind of play interpreter between these different divisions, that can come in and help guide the overall vision and the overall strategy of that to kind of like bring these pieces together, sometimes that’s essential too. It’s sometimes looking outside of just a group of people that’s right in front of you to be able to kind of help this thing land. So, I think with all of these different workflow concepts with, you know, pulling together, whether you’re looking at the art or the science portion of it, there is this need to figure out how to get the right people together to be able to kind of see the vision of what the project is and keep that going.
I think this is actually a conversation we had with Justin, and I don’t remember if this was actually on the show or if this is just in one of our meetings, where he was talking about how often people ask for the wrong thing. I need a solution that’s going to do this and we’ll come at it with a very specific ask, you know? I need an application that does this function, this function, and this function. But if you step back and you go, “What are you actually trying to accomplish with those three functionality pieces?” Well, I need the patient to be able to just do this or I need the doctor to be able to do this. That conversation is remarkably different and you allow room for people to contribute their own specializations, their own expertise. And you can get to solutions that maybe are more in line with what the project was trying to do at the beginning of it.
So, there are a lot of things to consider, and we’ve thrown out a lot of ideas in this episode, guys, and as we’re wrapping up, you know, there’s a lot to keep on the plate, so to speak, in terms of making sure that the overall vision of what you’re trying to accomplish stays forefront. And I think that context here is really critical for a lot of people that are on these teams, making sure that that strategy is out in front, making sure that that big vision is out in front of everybody the whole time. So, guys, so much more we can talk about. We’ll do it in the next episode. Thanks for talking today. And we’ll wrap up here. Have a great week, everybody.
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