Care by Design understands the fundamentals of organisational development, service management and leadership for the 21st century public sector organisation and communities.

Clarify True Purpose and Value

When we set about improving a service a good question to ask is, "What is the true purpose of this service?"

The answer is not always straightforward. For instance, some people may say that the purpose of a service is to "get patients through the system as quickly as possible". What we are trying to get quite clear at this stage is a simple statement of what the service was actually supposed to be doing in the first place, e.g. curing the patient's problem, right first time. The first view of purpose above is not necessarily compatible with the second one. Costs are obviously important, and the cost of achieving the true purpose is tackled when we look at the process that delivers the service.

Vague, ambiguous answers to the purpose question, such as "to provide total customer satisfaction", "to always satisfy demand", etc. do not help. We are not interested in 'visions and missions' here. We are simply clarifying what the service is actually supposed to be doing. If we are going to improve the performance of this service it is sensible to be quite clear from the outset on what that performance is supposed to be. If we have lost sight of purpose somewhere along the way, achieving real improvement will be virtually impossible.

When we talk of the value we are simply asking the question, "What is important to the patient?"

If we are going to improve service it is sensible to go to the people we are serving and find out what aspects of the service are important to them. We will then know what improvement should look like. Ensuring that we know, for certain, what is important to the patient is an extremely important step in the improvement process. We must give this step the amount of effort it deserves.

As with the purpose question, the answer to the value question is not always obvious. We often get some surprises when we talk to the patient about value.

Tools to help with this stage

Continue to Step 3

Published 1st January 1970