Valley Behavioral HealthValley Behavioral Health

By Gary Larcenaire, CEO & President

About Depression and Major Depressive Disorder

Imagine for a moment that we sit down across from each other and I tell you that I’m going to test your knowledge about behavioral health diagnoses. I will do that by holding up a card with words on it and ask you to tell me everything you know about that word or words. Ready? Here goes. I hold up the first card and it says, “Depression.”

With a look on your face that excitedly says, “I know this one!” you launch into a confident discussion of diagnostic criteria. The look on your face quickly changes to surprised confusion when you notice my head moving left and right in the silent universal symbol of disapproval that says, “No, that’s not right.” The instruction begins when I tell you, “The correct answer is that depression a normal human emotion, not mental illness.” What? Stay calm and read on.

Human beings are endowed with a rich and deep palette of emotional colors. We experience the exquisitely pleasant highs of childbirth, marriage ceremonies, graduations, good sex, and our favorite team winning the big game. We also experience the deep and painful lows of divorce and breakups, funerals, job loss, and our favorite team losing the big game. Although feeling these comparatively extreme emotions adds richness our lives, it’s also exhausting and not productive for long periods of time. We spend most of our time in the middle of the emotional spectrum, and our brain helps us regulate our moods.

Depression is not a medical term because it is a normal human emotion that everyone feels. When we feel depressed we instinctively engage in activities that make us feel pleasure and our mood eventually improves back to the middle of the emotional spectrum. Sad and depressed people leave funerals to attend social gatherings featuring a multitude of pleasure-inducing activities; interpersonal connection, touching, hugging, eating, and laughing over common memories and experiences. After other such lows in our lives, having french fries with a friend after a romantic break-up, or a hunting trip with buddies serve the same purpose. We tend to feel better afterwards.

What is Major Depressive Disorder?

Major Depressive Disorder is the medical term to describe the problem when people feel depressed (normal) and lose the ability to feel pleasure (not normal). In that condition, people feel down and cannot lift themselves up. If they remain in that condition more days than not for more than 14 days, they are candidates for a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder.

Other symptoms are required for the diagnosis and may include motivation and energy changes, sleep disturbances, feelings of guilt, decreased sex drive, a sense of cognitive dulling, or thoughts of suicide. However, the primary problem in Major Depressive Disorder is anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure. Anhedonia is what distinguishes normal depressive states from Major Depressive Disorder. People elevate themselves out of depression by feeling pleasure, but in Major Depressive Disorder they can’t. They need help.

Major Depressive Disorder is a significant personal and public health problem. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that in the United States, 16.2 million (6.7%) adults had a major depressive episode in 2016. Women (8.5%) experience major depression about twice as much as men (4.8%). Adults ages 18-25 have the highest rates of depression (10.9%). Whites (7.4%) have higher rates than Hispanic (5.6%) or Blacks (5.0%) or Asians (3.9%). However, Native Americans and Alaskan Natives have even higher rates (8.7%), and people reporting two or more races have the highest rates (10.5%). Adolescents ages 12-17 have similar statistics that are about twice as high across all categories, with the highest rates in 16-year-olds (17.4%).

Fortunately, Major Depressive Disorder can be treated once it is diagnosed properly. Sadly, 37% of adults, and 60% of adolescents do not receive any treatment. We must do better. If you had a cough or fever that was concerning, you’d seek a medical opinion and help. Even if you were told it’s a minor problem and will resolve without treatment, at least you would have appropriately responded to warning signs.

Please don’t ignore the warning signs of Major Depressive Disorder. If you notice that you or those you love are feeling depressed and normally pleasant activities have lost their appeal, get help. It’s not normal to be in that condition. It’s better to be on the side of caution and get a medical opinion before deciding on your own that the depression isn’t something more serious.

At Valley Behavioral Health, we offer evidence-based therapy and medication treatment for depression. We can help, but we can’t help if we don’t know you’re there. Make contact with us today and Let’s Deal with it Together.

By Julia Hood, Ph.D., BCBA, NCSP

National Recovery Month

This September, Valley Behavioral Health is celebrating the 29th annual National Recovery Month to help celebrate those who have achieved recovery through mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment. It is so important to recognize the meaningful work that people have done to be where they are in their recovery. This month gives many people a platform to share their stories with others, to hopefully inspire others to seek treatment for their addiction or take steps to avoid addiction. Recovery month also offers an opportunity to reiterate the vital importance of prevention services within our communities.

Substance use disorder can affect anyone. It does not discriminate across race, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, and/or level of education. Most everyone knows someone who has had a substance use disorder. They have seen the impact on their lives and the lives of their family and loved ones.   Those struggling with addiction often lose jobs, homes, families, and relationships as their addiction develops.

Hearing stories of those in recovery is also helpful in educating the community about what led them to use. Often people develop very negative opinions about people who are addicted to substances and make assumptions about circumstances which may have contributed to developing a substance use disorder or their inability to control their addiction.

Every year, we have a graduation ceremony for two of our residential programs and have graduates share their stories. It is always so inspiring and moving; however, during these speeches, you often hear stories of abuse, mistreatment by a partner, childhood trauma, assault, etc. These experiences contributed to the individuals’ initial use of substances, manifestation of mental health conditions, and development of a substance use disorder that impacts their life so negatively.

Unfortunately, many who struggle with substance use and/or mental health issues are too embarrassed to seek the treatment they need. There is a cultural stigma surrounding treatment and it keeps many people from getting help. It is imperative that we help remove the stigma of seeking mental health or substance use disorder treatment so our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, neighbors, and co-workers all feel more comfortable about getting the help they need.

At Valley Behavioral Health, we offer a variety of therapeutic services to address each individual client’s substance use and/or mental health needs. We have clinics throughout Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele Counties. We also provide many different levels of support, based on our clients’ needs. All clients receive individualized, evidence-based, client-centered care at our clinics. Our therapists address each client’s emotional health which is essential for improving each client’s overall health and well-being.

By Gary Larcenaire, CEO & President

Valley’s Semi Annual 2018 Update

2018 is shaping up to be a pretty thrilling year for Valley!

Valley’s recently launched ValleyEPIC program is nearly at capacity and is already making a difference in people’s lives.

Soon primary care will be made available to our customers on site to ensure comprehensive care and integrated health monitoring.

ValleyLab is seeking licensure which will permit external lab services to community partners and further diversify our funding streams.

Our ValleyFit Clinic has provided several hundred physicals and is a really appreciated resource for our employees and their families. Believe it or not, it is almost Fall and soon ValleyFit will be gearing up for cold and flu season as well as physicals for back to school activities.

ValleyRx should be making medications conveniently available to clients and employees in September. The buildout looks gorgeous and I am thrilled we are adding this resource to our service array.

The Pingree Center of Learning will be expanding soon! We have negotiated the sale of a perfectly located property where we will build a “state-of-the-art” program for adults challenged with autism.

Highland Springs Specialty Clinic continues to grow rapidly. We are expanding in Lehi this year and are actively exploring Idaho markets as well.

Valley’s call center fields an average of nearly 10k calls per month and the recent technology modernization initiative is paying off nicely in terms of data insights and improved customer service.

Our significant investment in technology is paying dividends as performance insights are becoming clearer and opportunities for improvement are illuminated.

Valley’s “pay for performance” and our significant investment in talent acquisition and staff retention are making a big difference for our workforce.

Finding top talent and retaining highly qualified, passionate employees is a top priority.

Compensation certainly plays a part, but career development and transparent communications are critical.

Valley’s significant restructuring more than a year ago is nearly solidified and employees are reporting much higher levels of satisfaction with the support they are getting from all levels of the company.

Our IT team is the best I’ve ever experienced.

Our Property Management, Grants and Contracts, Revenue Cycle, and Accounting are first in class.

ValleyAcademy will kick off this Fall and will select only the most elite and engaged employees to complete the coursework and lead system improvement and best practice use, system-wide. Leadership training will be more formalized this Fall as we ensure we are all using the same proven management techniques and not falling into the “theory-x-trap.”

Staff Development and Marketing are amazing teams and their merger with HR is proving to be a really good decision. Together, they will be an unstoppable force to support the teams that serve most closely to customer care.

Valley is a vibrant company and our teams are always tightening their processes.

2018 and forward will see ever-improving services and outcomes for those we serve. I am truly blessed to help lead this amazing company, made great by our skilled and committed workforce, our great partners, and of course our cherished customers.

I have welcomed a new NEO class yet again this week and somehow they just get better and better!!

 

Best,

Gary

 

By Dr. Todd Thatcher, DO, CMO

PTSD Awareness Month

June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) awareness month. It’s a time for us to reflect on a medical problem that challenges millions of Americans. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that about 50% of the people in the United States will suffer a trauma in their lives. Fortunately, the human brain has a wonderful way to deal with trauma sometimes called the “fight or flight system.”

When someone is in danger, it produces powerful fear and anxiety emotions to warn them and get their body ready to fight or escape the situation. The person’s heart and breathing rate increase to supply oxygen to the body, and blood and nutrients are directed to the muscles to fight or run away.

After the danger has passed, the brain releases chemicals to calm the person back down within about 20 minutes. The brain also remembers the threat so that detection and reaction to a similar threat in the future will be faster.

For up to 30 days after someone suffers a traumatic event, it is normal and common for the brain to go through a recovery process. Just like recovery from a physical injury is often painful, recovery from a trauma can be painful for a while as well.

Common symptoms include nightmares of the trauma and flashback memories during the day, avoiding people and places that remind the person of the trauma, feelings of depression, irritability, anger control problems, and guilt. The symptoms happen because the brain relives the trauma and triggers the fight or flight system. Although the person is no in danger any more, their brain thinks it is.

Eventually, the brain recovers and the person moves on with their life. The memory of the trauma does not cause problems for them. When they remember the trauma, it is remembered with either no emotions, or only mild and manageable emotions.

PTSD develops when the person continues to suffer the trauma recovery symptoms for more than 30 days. If the symptoms persist for more than one year the PTSD is called chronic. The underlying problem is that the brain was damaged by the trauma and has not been able to recover on its own. It continues to activate the fight or flight system even when no danger is present, and the person cannot control trauma memories. It can be very disruptive to families, friendships, and jobs.

According to multiple sources including the Veterans Administration, the National Institute of Mental Health, and PTSD United, about 6% to 8% of Americans suffer from PTSD. They experienced a trauma, or multiple traumas, that they are unable to leave in the past.

PTSD is not a new human problem. It has probably affected human beings since the beginning of time. Scholars have found evidence of PTSD in ancient Greco-Roman soldiers as far back as 3,000 B.C. In the American Revolutionary War, it was called Nostalgia. In the Civil War it was called Soldiers Heart. In World War I it was called Shell Shock. In World War II it was called Battle Fatigue. In Vietnam it was called Gross Stress Reaction, then changed to the current PTSD. The names have changed, but the symptoms have not.

However, war is not the only trauma that can cause PTSD. Rape, fires, car accidents, muggings, and domestic violence, are just a few of the traumas that can cause PTSD. Each trauma is different for each person.

Fortunately, we live in a day and age when there is more hope for recovery than ever before. Evidence-based and FDA approved treatments are readily available. At Valley Behavioral Health, we have therapists and prescribers specially trained to assess and treat PTSD. Our providers are trained in trauma-informed care, and are inspired to help those with PTSD live more fulfilling lives, one person at a time.

The most important step is the first step to reach out for help. You don’t have to suffer alone any longer. Start your recovery today by contacting Valley Behavioral Health to schedule your first appointment. Let’s deal with it together.

 

By Julia Hood, Ph.D., BCBA, NCSP

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. A lot of people ask, “Why is awareness important?” There are many reasons. For one, because 1 in 5 adults in the United States live with a mental health condition. That means that everyone likely has some personal connection to someone living with mental illness, it also means that you will interact with people who may be struggling in some way. Being aware of mental health and treatment will help you in interactions with those who may be struggling with mental illness.

I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time with one of my cousins. I remember being with him and hearing him talk about his girlfriend named Madonna and how she was a famous rock star, neither of which were true. He occasionally would get aggressive, luckily for me it was never directed toward me. At the time, I was very intimidated because I didn’t know what was causing this unexpected behavior or how to interact or respond to him. Years later, I found out he had schizophrenia, so I started to read about it. The awareness of what he was experiencing was so helpful. In adulthood, I got a call from my uncle telling me my cousin was in jail and he asked me to go visit him. My perception and approach to interacting with him along with the way I responded to him was so different this time because I could empathize with him knowing what he was experiencing. Awareness made all the difference.

Another reason awareness is so important is to allow those living with mental health conditions to seek high quality evidence-based treatment. Between 70 – 90% of people who engage in the right treatments and have the proper supports in place experience a significant reduction in symptoms and they report an increased quality of life. If people with mental health conditions could get these results, why don’t they all engage in treatment? There could be a number of factors contributing to why people don’t seek treatment, including cultural beliefs, insurance, financial strain, etc. However, one of the biggest reasons is the stigma surrounding mental health and treatment.

There is a prominent societal stigma surrounding mental health and treatment. Many people fear judgment or shaming by others if they share that they have a mental health condition or are seeking treatment for a mental health condition. This can further isolate those who are already experiencing a mental health condition. We need to encourage treatment rather than judge or shame people who receive treatment. Take the opportunity to spread awareness of mental health, increase your own awareness in some way, and take any opportunity you can to help end the stigma surrounding mental health and treatment not only during this month but every month.

For more information on the services we offer and how we can help, please call Valley Behavioral Health at 888.949.4864.
If you or someone you know is dealing with mental health, you don’t have to deal with it alone. Let’s deal with it together.

 

By Julia Hood, Ph.D., BCBA, NCSP

Suicide Awareness

Many people assume that the rate of suicides increases around the holidays, but that is a false assumption. Suicide rates actually increase in the Spring, which is why it is so important to be aware of factors that influence suicide attempts and how to get help. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be aware of these factors and resources during other times of the year, but we should be particularly vigilant about the increased risk of suicide during the Spring months. It is important to be able to watch for signs that someone may be thinking about attempting suicide and know the resources to get them the support and help they need.

Suicide affects entire communities, including the person attempting suicide and their family, friends, and peers. Utah ranks 5th in the nation for the highest suicide rates.
 Suicide is the number one cause of death in children ages 10-17. It is important to be 
aware of the risk and protective factors associated with suicide so that we can all take 
part in the prevention. Some risk factors that can lead to suicidal ideation and/or attempts include substance use, mental health issues, poor school performance, experiencing crisis
 or trauma, and being the victim of bullying. The number one risk factor for someone to attempt suicide is a previous suicide attempt. Often there will be a noticeable change in behavior prior to an attempt, that may include giving away valued belongings, not speaking about the future, significant changes in mood, feeling trapped in some way, or withdrawal from friends, family and/or the community. Protective factors that can indicate a decreased likelihood of suicide attempts include having a positive school, home, and community environment, positive peer relationships, and exhibiting prosocial behaviors. Valley Behavioral Health has licensed and trained clinicians who can help if you or one of your loved ones is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

 

Please contact us at 1-888-949-4864

There are a number of resources available to help prevent suicide. There are both Utah and National Crisis lines (see below). There are people who are well-trained to help that can talk at any time. There are also county specific crisis lines.

Utah Statewide CrisisLine: 801-587-3000

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), suicidepreventionlifeline.org

County Crisis Lines:
Davis County 801-773-7060

Salt Lake County (UNI) 801-587-3000 Summit County 435-649-9079 Tooele County 435-882-5600
Utah County 801-373-7393

Weber & Morgan Counties 801-625-3700

Unique to Utah, we have the SafeUT app that can be downloaded and used to chat, text, or provide tips to licensed clinicians 24/7.

SafeUT Crisis Text & Tip Line (download app)

By Dr. Todd Thatcher, DO, CMO

Patient Safety Awareness Week

Dr. Todd Thatcher, Chief Medical Officer

March 11th through 21st is National Patient Safety Awareness Week 2018.  An opportunity for America to reflect on the safety of our medical system.  Although we enjoy one of the finest healthcare systems in the world in terms of cutting edge technology, some of our safety statistics are sobering.

Norton’s Bankruptcy Law Advisor reported an estimated $19.5 billion dollars spent each year are attributable to medical errors.  The US Department of Health and Human Services reported that in 2009, adverse medical events caused more than 770,000 injuries and deaths at a cost of $5.6 billion.  Data compiled from Medscape surveys of practicing physicians, and from the Centers for Disease Control, rank failure to properly diagnose as the most common reason for malpractice lawsuits.

While these numbers should cause every patient to think carefully about their healthcare choices, they shouldn’t scare us away from care.  Counting medical mistakes is easier than determining your chances of experiencing a medical error, but common experience and reason tell us most people experience great benefit and little harm from healthcare.

At Valley Behavioral Health, we take patient safety very seriously.  Here are steps we take to ensure your treatment in our care is safe and effective.

Who we hire:

We only hire licensed professionals who pass rigorous State background checks and are in good standing with State licensing regulations.  Our interviewing process for clinicians also includes detailed and careful interviewing that assesses a candidate’s knowledge of their field, and the ability to safely administer that knowledge with patients.  Our process is so selective that we only hire about 10% of applicants.

How we train our people once they’re hired:

Landing a clinical job at Valley Behavioral Health is not the end of professional development.  In addition to upholding State standards for continuing education credits, we invest 40 to 80 hours of onboarding training depending on the specialized field.  Medical staff, therapists, and case managers receive 40 hours of classroom instruction in the evidence-based fundamentals of mental health work such as diagnostics, therapeutic alliance, suicide risk assessment, dealing with difficult or dangerous patients, substance abuse, trauma informed care, etc.  APRN’s receive an additional 40 hours of classroom instruction in how to safely and effectively prescribe psychiatric medications.  All staff must pass annual internal testing to ensure skill levels remain high.

Evidence-base care:

Our Chief Medical Officer, Director of Nursing, Senior Director of Clinical Services, and 6 Clinical Directors are dedicated to practicing state-of-the-art care that is evidence-based, safe, and effective.  That team is backed by a fully staffed IT department including data analysts and biostatisticians.  We are using data to help us monitor patient safety and we insist on the highest levels of electronic security to protect that data.  All our systems are HIPAA compliant.  With over 20,000 patients annually, receiving tens of thousands of services a month, we realize the vital role that technology and computers play in helping us keep the quality safety of our care high.

How we supervise staff:

All clinical staff are supervised by seasoned and skilled professionals who ensure a high quality of care is being delivered continually.  They help answer difficult questions, mentor staff to maintain good boundaries with patients, and work to avoid care-giver burnout which can lead to errors in care.

How we safely serve the community:

All our facilities are licensed by Federal and State agencies, that regularly inspect and audit our system.  We have 6 full-time employees in our regulatory oversight department who ensure that we are compliant with safety requirements.

Why we do all this:

Simple.  We want the same high-quality healthcare you do.  After all, we are providers, but sometimes we’re patients too.  Please don’t delay your mental health care.  If you need us, we’re here to provide safe and effective care.  We are inspired by helping others.

By Julia Hood, Ph.D., BCBA, NCSP

Self Love

Julia Hood, PH.D., NCSP, BCBA

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and most of us associate this day with chocolates, flowers, and romantic dinners. We want to let our partner know that we love them and appreciate them by giving them gifts or pampering them. When is the last time you gave yourself that same love and attention?

It is so important to take care of ourselves and show ourselves that same level of caring we show to those we love on Valentine’s Day. There are many ways we can do this. Taking care of our physical health and wellbeing is important, but so is taking care of our emotional well-being or mental health. When someone leaves emotional needs unmet, they often experience difficulties in other areas of their life also. For example, if something upsets you at work and it goes unaddressed, you are more likely to snap at a family member that evening or react poorly to another driver on the road. If you had not been upset about the situation at work, you likely would not have reacted that way to the family member or driver. Mental health and well-being can have a similar effect in many, if not all areas of your life.

If you are struggling emotionally and you do not address it, many areas of your life will likely be affected. It is time to show yourself the love and caring that you deserve and support your emotional well-being. Many people do not seek help for concerns with their emotional health, but it is just as important to treat mental illnesses as it is your physical health and should be given the same care and consideration.

At Valley Behavioral Health, we are passionate about helping people lead more fulfilling lives and our mental health therapists are experts at helping you do this. We offer a variety of therapeutic services to address each individual client’s needs. We have clinics throughout Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele Counties. We also provide many different levels of support based on our clients’ needs. You will receive individualized, evidence-based, client centered care at our clinics.

Our therapists are able to help you address your emotional health that can help improve so many aspects of your overall health and well-being. This Valentine’s Day don’t just pamper your loved ones, love and pamper yourself by seeking help to support your emotional well-being.

By Gary Larcenaire, CEO & President

“Thrival”

Gary Larcenaire, CEO Valley Behavioral Health

 

“Thrive” | Gary Larcenaire | Pulse | LinkedIn

Thrive-oriented cultures ensure that everyone shows up everyday, shaped, guided and informed by the thousands of days, prior.

For thirty years, Valley Behavioral Health has been there to provide care and support for Utahns and family members enduring the consequences of the most complex behavioral health conditions known.

Significant change to contracting protocols resulted in fundamental threat to Valley’s survival in 2011. Five years later, Valley survived. Survival is good. Seriously. But the future of healthcare is now more uncertain as ever. Survival will no longer be good enough. Organizations will need to be oriented toward “thrive” principles if they expect to be around in the longer term.

The “near death” experience we endured at Valley taught us a lot, and our “finely-honed” adaptive skill set will serve us well as we navigate our transition from “survive” to “thrive”.

“Thrive” represents a full transition from a focus on the present and near-term, to the “foreseeable”.

Thrive must be pervasive. Unifying. And unless it becomes a complete cultural imperative, health systems may fail; or be so weakened that we cannot tell the difference.

Only those health systems committed to the principles of thrive, will be around and growing in ten to twenty years.

Thrive-oriented cultures are defined by:

  • An organizational systems approach which seeks to minimize the urgency of “the now” by shifting team orientation to the future and the past.
  • A culture which values, and materially rewards learning from prior experiences, successes and failures,
  • An organizational culture fixated on prior success and learning, so as to inform and better prepare each department/unit/employee for the future.
  • Thrive-oriented cultures are mostly calm.
  •  Thrive-oriented cultures are oriented pro-activly.
  • Thrive-oriented cultures accept failure with enthusiasm and celebrate failure as a recognized source of knowledge and learning.
  •  Thrive-oriented cultures ensure that everyone shows up everyday, informed by the thousands of days, prior.

Read last bullet again slowly and think about its relevance to: Staff Development, Human Resources, Information Technology, Management, Systems Learning, on-boarding, auditing, NEO etc.

Thrive-oriented cultures ensure that everyone shows up everyday, informed by the thousands of days, prior.

  •  Thrive-oriented cultures pivot from crisis intervention to crisis interception.

I look forward to meeting and discussing this more in person.

Follow-up questions:

  1. How can your department/unit be more proactive?
  2. How can you use the experiences of staff both successes and failures to shape the on boarding of new team members?
  3. How can you celebrate failure and use it as a source of learning and future success?
  4. How can you transition from “crisis intervention” to “crisis interception”?

By Gary Larcenaire, CEO & President

Communicate or Die

Gary Larcenaire, CEO Valley Behavioral Health

 

1. Message transmit speed and saturation not measured 

If your executive management team designated Tuesdays as “green t-shirt day” how many Tuesdays would pass before employee participation reached 100%?

This example seems simple enough but one very critical assumption is built into this example: That you have a process of tracking “T-shirt Tuesday participation” over time.

In order for a group to evidence that communication occurred, a specified change in behavior must be observed and measured.

Organizations fail when they fail to adapt. Positive adaptation is a product of clean and efficient communication. Without a formal process to measure and improve message transmission efficiency, your company will be at a significant disadvantage, will inevitably fall behind and may gradually fail.

I recommend you establish a process whereby message saturation and duration can be tested a few times annually. Make it fun! At Valley, we recently challenged Program Directors to disseminate a survey link to all staff in their units. We set up a process and informed Directors that once an employee completed their three-question survey, a set of warm clothes would be donated to our homeless services unit on their behalf.

We then tracked how long it took each unit to reach 100% survey completion. Sure, many of the larger units never did reach 100%, but it did establish a baseline. A baseline each Director has vowed to beat next time.

At Valley, we are developing innovative ways to empirically track communication efficiency and are developing organizational designs which minimize message attenuation.

The attenuation graph is an example of a visual representation of percent loss of message as time or layers of bureaucracy are added. Developing and sharing this visualization of message loss can be a powerful educational tool.

2. Message distortion levels not measured

If your executive management team designated Tuesdays as “green t-shirt day” how many employees would show up wearing blue, black, or sea foam (a shade of green, but not “true” green) shirts?

Message saturation and duration testing, as we have learned, is critical, but how many times are messages transmitted, only to be received in a distorted form?

Inflection adjustment, sarcasm use, or simple lack of clarity in message transmission can result in the wrong behavioral change. This distortion can be more damaging than a team not getting a message at all. We borrowed again from the science of sound, and refer to this as the signal to noise ratio.

The science of sound has developed methods of measuring sound absorption and dissipation and distortion. We are borrowing heavily from this science as we adapt their learning to our organizational learning and adaptation.

We are borrowing heavily from the “science of sound” as we measure and redesign our communication systems.

3. Staff training curriculum and processes not dynamic

Staff training curriculum not “dynamically” influenced by the most recent set of performance metrics will inevitably become stale and useless. Whether training on compliance, clinical outcomes, customer satisfaction, or budget performance, the foundation of effective training, organizational learning and adaptation is the incorporation of current performance metrics. Incorporation of most recent performance data into training materials, combined with experiential learning methods can produce the Holy Grail of training: dynamic knowledge.

Dynamic knowledge steps beyond just “know about” and steps into performance. It is actually doing something with the information, working with it, building skills and understanding on a deeper level.

Dynamic knowledge is to gain a feel for something, to internalize information and have it become real and active in the learner’s world.

Minimizing attenuation and signal to noise ratio isn’t enough. New and existing staff must be trained routinely as new information is discovered or process requirements change. Training must result in dynamic knowledge and the existence of dynamic knowledge must be measured.

4. Lack of prompt “business critical” feedback loops 

Feedback loops are a critical component for organizational learning and adaptation to occur. Single loop learning processes at a minimum must be established so that dynamic training and knowledge acquisition can develop and spread.

Double loop learning and even triple loop processes can be developed over time as team sophistication grows.

Failure to institutionalize learning will compromise organizational agility and adaptation.

By combining the sciences of sound, cutting edge education and organizational theory, a company can move a long way toward becoming a force of adaptation and innovation. But without developing a common language, true realization of synergy from these concepts will remain elusive.

5. Failure to establish a common performance language

The concepts touched on in this blog must be uniformly defined shared and understood. Leadership must make certain that words and concepts like:

  • Attenuation
  • Message Saturation and Duration Testing
  • Signal to Noise Ratio
  • Dynamic Knowledge
  • Dynamic Curriculum
  • Experiential Learning
  • Loop Learning

are taught at New Employee Orientation and leadership training to ensure that they become routine nomenclature within the culture of the company.

Summary

Use the five points listed above as the baseline of an assessment for your company or department. Work to develop your understanding of what is in place and what isn’t. Then act.

You could even start with using your traditional communication channels to launch and monitor a message push similar to “T-Shirt Tuesday”. Let me know what you come up with! I hope this has been helpful. I look forward to our next meeting together.

Gary

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