During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Doing NEW Work Without Doing MORE Work

Children’s brains keep developing every day. So how can we keep momentum with our improvement work, even as how we work is changing around us?
Breakdowns often lead to breakthroughs. We’re in the midst of a global breakdown of “business as usual,” but children are growing and developing every day. The way that you work with young children and their families is undergoing upheaval. How can you make the most of the disruption and take advantage of innovations in how work is changing?
One approach is to think about how to integrate new ways of doing something into your everyday work. With all the changes happening, the last thing you need is to create new work for yourself. Instead, consider thinking of ways to do your normal work in different ways. For example, you can make baked potatoes in the oven or the microwave. Either way, you’re eating baked potatoes, it’s just a difference in how you prepare them.
A good way to start is to take baby steps! If your idea isn’t going to work, you can find out on a small scale before committing to making bigger changes that may not work the way you thought they would.
If you’d like a simple structure that can help guide your efforts, the Model for Improvement can be a helpful tool. You can start with three simple but powerful questions to clarify your thinking before you take those baby steps!

  1. What am I trying to accomplish? Try to be specific in what you’d like to have happen by changing how you’re doing your work, so you know if it works out.
  2. How will I know that a change is an improvement? Is there anything you can “measure?” This can be a number – we will connect with 4 of 5 families for their PAT tele-visit on the first attempt. Or it can be subjective – our team members agreed we worked together more effectively this week compared to last week.
  3. What changes can I make that will result in improvement? It helps to write down a few different ideas you think might help you get to your goal. You don’t have to try them all, but the brainstorming can help generate new ways to do “old” work!

Once you’re clear on what you want to do, and how, then just try out one of those ideas the next time or two you’re working on that task. If the change idea isn’t helpful, you can just adjust it (or scrap it) and try again!
Using these three questions, combined with Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles, can turn trial and error into trial and learning… a great way to adapt to a changing world.
Thank you for all that you’re doing for young children and their families!