By Stacy M. Menz, PT, DPT, PCS
This issue’s theme, “Focusing on Solutions: Overcoming Obstacles,” is an exciting one. I can directly relate to it as one of our company values is “Solution Oriented,” and it is one that profoundly resonates with me. Our philosophy is that if you bring up a problem, you also have to come with a solution. Having the staff member think about solutions opens up possibilities and takes the focus off of the problem. They begin to become accountable for where they can make a difference as opposed to being a passive participant at work.
I once attended a seminar where we performed an exercise called “Intention/Mechanism.” The purpose of the exercise was for everyone in the room to get from one side to another but by using a different mechanism. For instance, once someone had walked across the room, walking was no longer an option as a solution. The result was an unlimited number of mechanisms (solutions) to get across the room as long as our intention (goal) was clear. By focusing on the solutions, the obstacles diminished in size, whereas when focusing on the obstacles, they loomed larger and blocked possibilities.
Another practice that I use regularly is to brainstorm solutions to what seems like an insurmountable obstacle. It again takes my focus off the obstacle and allows me to think in terms of possibilities. I do not sensor myself when I am performing this exercise. I list every solution that pops into my head, regardless of how insane or improbable it seems. By not censoring myself and putting down every crazy idea, I have often found that the craziest ideas can spark another idea that is actually workable. If I had ignored the crazy idea, I might never have come to the workable solution.
In the ever-changing landscape of health care, we have an opportunity to focus on the solutions and continue to move and change even if it is baby steps or sideways steps. Movement allows a change in perspective and opens up the opportunity for new solutions to arise. If we stay focused on the obstacles we might find ourselves “stuck” in a position where we never take a next step.