I was taking with someone about innovation. They told me about a famous quote from Henry Ford. Supposedly he said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses.’”

(OK, I looked it up and it’s debatable if he really said that, but it goes to my point so I’m keeping it!)

Now Ford did not conduct any focus marketing when he decided to build a car, as insight techniques had not been invented yet, but he did care about the needs of his customers. And what Ford did more importantly was apply the assembly line process to building his car. He knew this innovative technique would fulfill his mission: “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

The assembly line was first used by the brewing, canning, milling and meatpacking industries. But in 1913, Ford improved the technique to become the class of the automobile industry. By the end of 1914, his employees were the highest paid industrial workers in the world; an employee performing the simplest of tasks could become rich.

So what the heck has this got to do with long-term care and innovation? Well, innovators do have to be more adept at knowing what people want and, more importantly, need. Henry Ford didn’t do focused marketing. He knew what was needed.

So sometimes, you don’t need a staff meeting to get everyone’s input either, especially when you have evidence-based processes you want to implement. (You do want buy-in, however. But that is another blog for another day.) In our case, I’m talking about giving our staff a more streamlined process that is sustainable and repeatable, and can improve quality and teamwork.

For example, if you ask your staff what their role should be in incident investigation, you may get answers from, “Nothing, it’s the DON’s job,” to finding out that every single nurse has a different process and each would prefer to do it her way (thank you very much!).

The problem is, not only is that not sustainable, you’ll never get to the root cause of the problems. (And can you imagine what that car would look like? I sure wouldn’t drive in it!)

Sometimes you might need to build your staff a car. This might mean simple, repeatable processes that all are held accountable to replicate. You have to be innovative and bold enough to create positive, sustainable change — all while people are telling you to give them a faster horse!

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.