Eyes right!

Barry Dennis – CEO, Wells Community Hospital Trust

It’s often said that the best time to spot opportunities and wastage within a business is in your first few weeks in a new job. After that you tend to get settled in, know the people, adapt to the routines and so on.

I’ve recently taken on a new part time role as CEO of Wells Community Hospital in North Norfolk. It’s a role I’ve never done before as all of my previous jobs have been in the world of media. I can certainly vouch that the first two weeks have been the time to spot opportunities. As for wastage, that’s not usually a problem within a charitable trust. It’s certainly not an issue at Wells.

A key benefit I’ve had is that working outside my usual comfort zone has put me on a steep learning curve so I’m spending lots of time looking at the operation and talking to staff and volunteers. I’m asking people that simple but often difficult to answer question - Why? Why do we do this? Why do we do that? It usually gets people thinking and asking their own questions.

Anyway, back to the point about spotting opportunities in the first couple of weeks or so. I’ve worked out that it isn’t rocket science to keep it going – get other people to do it.

Three weeks after I started the new job, we had a new receptionist join. I asked her to make notes of all the things that she spotted in her first couple of weeks that she thought could help improve the business. She came up with about a dozen. One simple one, that I should have spotted, was that the web site wasn’t up to date. She also noticed that I had already put in place a new communication process to keep key stakeholders such as GPs, fundraisers and volunteers informed about what is happening at the hospital. She asked me that simple question. Why not sent it to the Town Council? Brilliant!

That’s now been done with a flurry of emails from local councillors saying thanks for keeping us informed.

I’ve now started quizzing new patients who sit in reception immediately outside my office. I have had suggestions for some magazines and publications, fresh flowers, better plastic cups for the drinks dispenser to name but a few.

I’m definitely going to keep it going and see how long it takes to come up with 100 “ improvements.” Watch this space.

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