Grandma’s Apple Pie.

Who is baking in your CDI kitchen?

In the spirit of our theme for CDI week, “CDI Kitchen: Recipes for a Successful Program”, I was thinking about the perfect recipe for a well-functioning CDI program. So many are searching to fine tune the recipe – to get the consistency just right. Unlike a perfectly measured recipe, that is sustainable for years upon end, CDI is a bit harder to refine. The even greater reality is that the recipe for CDI will need to withstand the test of time like your grandma’s apple pie recipe. Still, we must learn to adapt the recipe to different environments without losing the integrity of the overall goal. Starting with a great apple pie recipe but ending up with mediocre apple pie does not make one a great baker. So, what is the defining differentiator? Grandma! Even though anyone can follow a recipe, the skill of which it is placed together and crafted is difficult to master. But, given the right environment, this skill set can be honed.

So, what is the difference between a great CDI program and a mediocre program? Is it Grandma? Well, sort of. I think most CDI leaders would agree that it is the ability of the team to be nimble to learning and growing without losing sight of the fundamental goal. Let’s face it, many of us are following similar recipes, but some programs are simply better than others. This isn’t necessarily due to a problem with their recipes. It’s due to having dynamic bakers, in a high functioning kitchen, who can adapt to their market. Those having learned to adapt the recipe to healthcare’s changing environment will thrive, while those sticking to the same recipe, given little skill will likely falter. I get asked all the time how to start an outpatient CDI program. This is a valid question, but the bigger question is how to build a sustainable program that stands the test of time. There is one simple answer – the right people!

Choosing the right people to fill the right roles is imperative! Core values, a design for purpose and defined competencies should all align to create job satisfaction and sustainable practices, like a mastered recipe. In their pursuit to build, many leaders think that they must choose experts to see a program succeed. This is not necessarily the case, however. There is a lot of value in knowledge, and I don’t want to take anything away from that. Even so, having someone who is “an expert” but who does not fit your organizational culture will inevitably begin to break down the team. Organizational cultural fit is exponentially important and there is more and more supporting research.

You may be familiar with the many different performance/cultural fit models. But if not, I would encourage you with the below visual, and ask that when considering how to build your team, you think deeply about it. This does not mean limiting those with differing views, ideas, backgrounds, etc. But instead, thoroughly evaluate what you want to accomplish and examine what that looks like. It is a simple business strategy that so many overlook. It is much better to teach someone who is a good fit and willing to learn than to attempt changing someone’s fundamental business values to match your team.

This strategy is not only for executive decision makers, but also for those looking to join a team – who may be exploring a company move or a career change. How do you collaborate with your leaders and the other staff? Is there mutual respect and the added autonomy to refine your CDI recipe? If not, then I would ask you to examine your space in the kitchen.

Written by: Jessica M. Vaughn, MSN, RN, CCDS, CCDS-O, CRC

Vice President, Value-Based CDI at Norwood

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