What does the future of our industry look like?
What could our company be more efficient?
How can we better address our clients’ needs?
These are all important questions that most companies are (or should be) constantly grappling with. However, it can be difficult to focus on these “down-the-road” issues when we are so often inundated with work on a daily basis.
For big, structural changes, it is important that companies have – and are actively working toward – a vision for the future. After all, questions like these will involve a great number of decisions that affect multiple departments. A million tiny steps exist in between.
In order to not lose sight of these high-level questions, many companies – including those in the senior care industry – will turn to focus groups. If you are thinking of planning a “visioning day” to help chart out your company’s future, consider the following tips and tricks.
Carve Out Ample Time for Discussion
The next year or five years of your company’s future is not going to be determined with an hour in the conference room. This needs to be at least a day-long event. Depending on your level of resources, you may also want to consider having an off-site event, which can help spur creative thinking and problem-solving. To that end, make sure that you have someone taking ample notes, or consider recording the entire day’s events.
Include Diverse and Representative Groups
The future of your senior care facility needs to reflect the different voices that it includes. This means having people from each department. You should also consider ways for making sure that patients’ voices are heard. For example, have caregivers (or another party) conduct a poll with residents on a variety of different topics beforehand. You need to know their greatest needs and concerns if you are going to adequately address them.
Have Small Groups Present Creative Ideas
Groups of four to six people should include individuals from different backgrounds and departments. You can assign each group their own unique issue or have every group attempt to tackle the same problem – you would be surprised how people address the same topic from different angles. Make sure that each team has time to present to the full group, with additional time for debriefing at the end.
Discourage Negative Thinking
There are some people who will want to shoot down every idea before it even has a chance to fully come to life – this can discourage others from speaking up or contributing. Let people know at the beginning of the day that comments should be constructive and that everyone should have an opportunity to share.
Establish an Open Line of Communication
The last step is to make sure that the full team is aware of the next step. It is likely that individuals will continue to have ideas even after the exercise has concluded. Make sure that you have a system set up so that team members can share thoughts that they have down the line, and further contribute to ideation efforts. It is important that you keep the future in mind every day.