If you haven’t started already, it’s time to get your ICD-10 show on the road. October 2014 will be here before we know it, so physicians, clinical documentation specialists, coding professionals and administrators need to kick it into high gear, now. Here’s the challenge, though: no one can drive this project alone. It’s going to take a team of people, with all the required skills, to deliver a successful ICD-10 transition. Their ability to pull together quickly, as a team, will determine how and when they cross the finish line.

That brings us to Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing, also known as Tuckman’s stages of group development. As a member of any team, we hope to race through the first three stages – forming, storming and norming – then cruise along when it comes to performing. However, that rarely happens. Teams tend to ramp up to a certain level of effectiveness slowly and often never hit full speed. That’s not the case with entrepreneurial startups, though. They are known for their ability to throw together a couple of people and quickly launch a new business. Perhaps we can take a few tips from them that will help our ICD-10 adoption teams excel right out of the blocks.

Here are three lessons from Silicon Valley, each representing ideas that help teams get started fast. They embrace change, align personal goals to the “big idea” and develop a group of champions who can sell.

Lesson 1: Startups Are Oriented Toward Change

According to Steve Blank, a well-known serial entrepreneur from Silicon Valley who teaches at Stanford, U.C. Berkeley and Columbia, “a startup is a temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.” In other words, they are all about change. From the get-go, they are ready to handle and pitch new ideas. Wouldn’t it be great if your ICD-10 team could be so adaptable?

One course of action that will help your team adapt to ICD-10 implementation is to set a context for it. Map your organization’s history to orient team members and illustrate that the implementation project is short-term, in the overall context of things. Here’s how:

  1. Draw a timeline along the bottom of a large poster, several sheets of flipchart paper or a whiteboard.
  2. Dates go below the line. The first date on the left denotes when your practice or healthcare system was founded. Mark five- or 10-year time blocks leading up to 2015 (depending on how long you’ve been in business).
  3. Above the timeline, record significant events relating to your organization, each corresponding with the appropriate date.
  4. Give everyone a chance to share items of importance with the group – and make sure you have some old-timers there who know the history.

Here’s why this makes sense: ICD-10 adoption calls for system-wide change. Allowing the implementation team to recall past project successes and major events sets a context for the next big change to come. Need more help? Search for “History Map” on www.gogamestorm.com to learn how to facilitate this exercise.

Lesson 2: Founders Align with Their Purpose

Entrepreneurs launch startups with a founding team. Inevitably, someone has a great idea but can’t make it happen on his or her own, so they recruit co-founders with complementary skills to build it. As the team gels, they all develop passion and a determination to succeed. Then they work those long hours, just as you did for that AHIMA certification (or RN, or MHA). Why do they do it? Each of the founders visualizes the purpose behind the startup’s “big idea” and personally buys into it.

In the case of ICD-10 adoption, the team’s purpose has been dictated by outside forces, yet it still needs to buy into the idea that the project is personally valuable to them. One of the best ways to make this happen is to have the team create its own vision of success. Here’s how:

  1. Gather the team together and invite members to imagine that they are being featured on the cover of a magazine for their highly successful adoption of ICD-10. The team can work on the vision together, in small groups, or individually.
  2. Team members must pretend that their success was in the past and that they are enjoying current media coverage.
  3. Have them sketch the cover of the magazine, draw images that ran in the article, write out notable quotes and headlines, and include comments from readers or emails from friends and family who read the magazine.

Here’s why this make sense: Each person needs to create or co-create a future vision that is personally compelling. Just like a startup founder or co-founder, they have to buy in. Need more help? Search for “Cover Story” on www.gogamestorm.com to learn how to facilitate this exercise.

Lesson 3: The Team Can Pitch the Product

Entrepreneurs spend many hours figuring out how to present their ideas to investors who can fund them. Watch them in action at a cocktail party: they relish the chance to deliver their 10-second “elevator pitch” to everyone in the room. They also carefully work out three-, five- and 20-minute product demos promoting their ideas. Your ICD-10 team should do the same.

Fostering successful, large-scale change requires champions. These are the people who can’t wait to tell others about the benefits of their project. Fortunately, champions are made, not born. As the team hashes out its various pitches, members get a chance to challenge each other, to develop a shared picture of the stakes involved and to figure out how to sell their idea. When they are ready, they can lay out the benefits of ICD-10 adoption to anyone in two minutes flat. Find members like that, and now you’ve got a team that’s eating Wheaties for breakfast.

So, what can we learn from Silicon Valley? When team members are oriented for change, aligned to their personal interests and becoming champions of pitching the project, they’re ready to perform at a high level. Ramp them up quickly by copying these tricks of the trade from the startup world.

About the Author

Jenny Trautman is the principal graphic facilitator at Evenview, where she leads team development, strategy planning and change management initiatives in a variety of industries. Jenny has achieved success in building high-performing teams for more than 25 years, creating cross-functional groups that work together effectively within an enterprise. Her area of expertise is engaging teams in the implementation of integrated technologies. Jenny holds an MBA from Emory University and a BSEE from the University of Utah.

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