Getting to Urgent

Posted by jlubans on February 06, 2021

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Caption: Impromptu vaccine clinic Highway 199 near Hayes Hill, Oregon, USA elevation 1640 feet or 500 meters.

The news last week had a “feel-good” story featuring 20 Oregon health workers stalled on a highway in a snow storm.
Returning from a vaccine clinic on January 26, they found themselves with 6 doses of vaccine about to expire, what to do?
They make a snap decision, jump out of their vehicles, team up, and start asking stuck drivers if they would like a covid vaccination.
Some drivers laughed and said no thanks, but 6 folks said, “You bet!”.
In my eyes, these health workers displayed an abundance of urgency. How did that happen?
What was there in this team that encouraged this improvisation and creativity?
One of the 20, Josephine County Public Health Director Mike Weber, said:
“Our No. 1 rule right now is nothing gets wasted.”
If that’s part of the organizational culture then that might have promoted the resourcefulness. “Nothing gets wasted” is easy to remember and to apply. It’s neither vague or boiler plate.
Besides this being a feel-good story, I think it presents us with an example of what in sports is called “stepping up”- a substitute player rises to the occasion when replacing an injured starter.
Perhaps there are clues in this snow storm event for those having to administer millions of vaccinations?
How did the idea to use up the 6 doses come about?
Was it a spontaneous decision or did one person bring it up and then everyone joined in? Did anyone have to be convinced that this was a good idea?
Was a vote taken or was it based on a majority nodding in agreement?
Obviously, it would have been easier to stay in the van and write off the 6 shots; nothing we could do, etc.
And, list out all the bureaucratic excuses for wasting the 6 doses.
What the Josephine story shows is a group clear about their mission, ready to adapt, break the guidelines, if you will, maybe even break the rules.
It’s even more relevant as we hear of “faltering state vaccination rollouts and scientists debating new tactics”.
The urgency displayed by this team of twenty links back to one of my recent blogs, The Bottom Line.
Here’s the last paragraph of that blog.
How do organizations achieve (a) level of urgency?
Do they even want urgency anywhere near them? Well, is that not something we should want in every organization? An inculcated desire to be the best every day.
What is the bottom line for you? For your organization? What’s the ball you strive toward?
Not just in football, how do you get each worker (or most workers) to play to the bottom line? In an epidemic, what does that look like in state government? Is it possible to generate such a mind set in a bureaucracy?
Yes, if you have courageous leadership and a team with a majority of willing and capable followers.”
That’s what I think happened on that snowy Oregon highway.

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© Copyright all text John Lubans 2021

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