Center for Pain Relief
Division of Pain Medicine
Department of Anesthesiology
University of Washington, Seattle Campus
Organizing Information Exchange with the Catalyst Tools
How do you promote quality discussion and information sharing among people who cannot meet face-to-face on a regular basis? Lisa Stuebing, Chief Assistant at the University of Washington Division of Pain Medicine, confronted this challenge when she was brought on board to help manage organizational change. The Division coordinates the Center for Pain Relief and is driven by the vision of garnering peer recognition as a world-class pain relief center. It is currently developing an internal auditing system to increase the center’s research and outreach productivity. The auditing process demands in-depth discussion and organized project management.
Stuebing is responsible for managing and organizing the group’s auditing process, which involves making observations about the organization’s current state and then coming up with and executing corrective actions that address those observations. The process is done continually, so that changes can be implemented whenever a staff member notices room for improvement in clinic or research efficiency, client friendliness, or clinic outreach. When an area for improvement is recognized, a couple of members from the group will form a task team and develop a solution. Requisite to this quick process is consistent, frequent, and quality communication between individuals for task management and the sharing of ideas and information.
Since the Division staff often work at different hospitals in the community and have different schedules, Stuebing knew email would not be a good option for discussion because of the sheer number of messages to read and track. Because she had previously worked with the Catalyst Tools, she thought that GoPost discussion boards would be a good way for Division members to be able to keep in close contact with each other. Thus, she set up a GoPost board to provide a place for team members to discuss their tasks and projects. Individual conversations are dedicated to one dialogue topic.
From experience, Stuebing knew that private discussions between task team members would be crucial to the team's success. She wanted the team to be comfortable with candid discussions and to feel concrete in their solution before bringing it to the attention of the larger group. With this in mind, she secured her GoPost discussion boards to a specific list of UW NetIDs, so group conversations could be kept private.
The internal auditing process generates a lot of paperwork. To manage it all, Stuebing made a ShareSpace to hold electronic versions of useful documents such as those which record the audit observations and team meeting minutes. Stuebing also used WebQ to create online versions of forms such as leave applications, improvement bulletins, and faculty voting ballots.
Stuebing wanted to provide gateway access to the Catalyst Tools, organize what she had created, and give instructions about how each tool should be used and by whom. Although she knew how to make her own Web site, she tried out CommonView which proved simple to set up and link to her tools. Quicker than creating a Web site, CommonView’s click-and-drag function allowed her to easily organize her materials and limit access to just her group. Further limiting access to each Catalyst Tool helped her narrow the users of a specific tool to the smaller, pertinent groups of people, ensuring that the task teams could do their work privately. When task-team work was ready to be shared with the larger group, they would email Stuebing an update which she would post in CommonView.
The response from staff members has been positive, and it didn’t take long for the Division staff to learn how to interact effectively with each other online. Stuebing is also confident that it will be easy to train managers to use the tools after she leaves the group.