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Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 6/10/13

June 11, 2013 Dr. Jayne 3 Comments


I’m a sucker for 1960s and 1970s pop culture. Whether it’s the vintage lunchboxes at the National Museum of American History or watching “Scooby-Doo, Where are You!” with my nieces, I’m in. You’ve got to appreciate that level of kitsch, the likes of which I’m not sure we’ll ever see again.

I’m glad to work with IT leadership that believes in developing our employees. We tend to hire quite a few relatively young grads who may or may not be “computer people,” but are critical thinkers who want to transform health care. Before I get accused of age bias, we also hire a fair amount of older workers who may be on their second careers and demonstrate the same level of malleability. I enjoy introducing both ends of the spectrum to some of the crazier things I’ve seen on my quest to find the kitschiest thing ever.

One of my favorite TV shows was “The Six Million Dollar Man.” I love the initial voiceover: “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology… Better than he was before. Better…stronger…faster.” That’s the way I like to think about some of the seemingly lose-lose projects our team is assigned. They are things that no one wants to deal with that can make users’ lives more complicated and can be generally annoying. The challenge is to work your way through the muck to find the one piece of the project that can bring positive benefit, and then try to build on it. Sometimes this has positive results and sometimes it just results in silliness, which happened this week.

We’re working on some projects to look at resource planning and employee time allocation. Like most organizations, we have more work to do than can be accomplished by a team that is not bionic. Our goal is to look at productivity patterns and try to figure out how to not only maximize what the team has to offer, but reduce the waste and inefficiency that happens despite our best efforts. The problem is that our enterprise resource management software isn’t that great. We’re not able to do a lot of customization to it and certainly don’t have budget to replace it, so we were brainstorming.

The idea on the table was finding the best way to manage meetings to ensure that required attendees are present, no extraneous people are pulled in, and no more time is spent in a meeting than is needed. Even with all the different productivity tools and add-ons that are plaguing our employees in Outlook, the team came up with one that I’d seriously like to see: the Relative Meeting Cost (RMC) analysis widget.

We would need to add some additional fields (hidden, of course) to the contact data to track an employee’s equivalent hourly wage as well as the billable rate for chargeable employees. It would look at the invitees and meeting length and display the RMC value not only in dollars, but with big tacky graphics to make it clear whether the event was a BEM (Big Expensive Meeting) or a PCM (Pretty Cheap Meeting).

Functionality would be added to create security options that would prevent people below a certain status from scheduling BEMs without review or approval. You could even prevent a BEM from being scheduled if more than a predetermined number of required attendees had conflicts.

Of course this will never happen, but it was a great way to blow off steam. Somehow the thought process circled back to being bionic, which led to a wide open debate on whether Steve Austin or Jaime Sommers was tougher. We’re not going to have a technology solution just yet that will let us avoid booking a Six Million Dollar Meeting, but we did bond as a team, which is no small feat. Maybe next time we’ll try some macramé owls.

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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. I have fantasized about this meeting/time/dollar tracker as well. My version has a giant display board at the front of the room that shows the running dollar total of FTE money spent as the room/hour ticks by. We have both barcoded employee badges and the proximity badges. Everybody could wave their badges at a reader as they enter the room and wave again upon exit. As the last employee leaves the town hall meeting (where they have heard how close the margins are), the CEO can see the amount of money just spent on the meeting. $12,251.

    Put that in your budget and smoke it.

  2. Our COO built such a tracker and would prominently display the dollar amount growing by the second during meetings. It was rather intimidating if you were the one that called the meeting. People quit inviting him to their meetings.

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