Look, we get it. No matter the size of your veterinary hospital, going live with a new software platform is a big deal.
For the better part of the past 5 years, week after week, we’ve been helping hospitals take on this important goal with Instinct.
There are countless reasons to switch to a software platform of the future (like Instinct EMR), but no matter your reasons, change is hard for most humans.
And even awesome change is still… change.
I was recently at a large, progressive, emergency/specialty center going live with Instinct EMR, and I heard something I hear a lot from practice leaders: “This is going so well. I just wish we had done it several months ago.”
In exploring why hospitals delay their software launch, I hear a common and completely understandable theme: fear of change and fear of imperfection during implementation for their team.
We’re constantly asked for advice on managing change among veterinary teams. Last year, we wrote about the power of the superuser.
Since then, we’ve been watching, experimenting, and learning from our hospitals about this very topic, and this year, I want to share some new actionable learning around a concept known as self-efficacy.
It's amazing how something so simple can have the most outsized impact on your team’s ability to accomplish important organizational goals. Let's see why!
🦎 Say Hi to Our Lizard Brains
When it comes to software go-lives, some go better than others. But the software is the same between Instinct go-lives, so why do some go well yet some start off rocky?
And how do you stack the deck in your favor?
Enter you and your team’s lizard brains.
Neurophysiology review time: A few parts of your brain make up the limbic system, which is the most primitive part of your brain, and It. Controls. Everything.
This part of your brain is in charge of taking over your body to protect you (fight, flight, fear) in various scenarios. Your limbic system automatically warns you of danger, and for millions of years of human evolution, it has protected us well.
But it’s also a relic in many ways. It hasn’t evolved to help with a more modern—and less threatening—world.
After all, changing software isn’t exactly the same as being chased by a prehistoric beast. Still, our brains perceive it in the same way!
By definition, change means some things are going to be different. In the case of software or workflow, some differences are perceived as less effective while others are seen as working better.
Still, your lizard brain tags them all as DANGER. 🚨 If you lead humans, step one is understanding this important concept.
🥅 Accomplishing Your Goals
I think a lot about how to succeed at ambitious goals. After all, just a few years ago, we launched Instinct as a “nobody” entering the veterinary market.
We were competing with much bigger companies and trying to do so by solving important problems for some of the largest, most advanced, and most progressive veterinary centers in the world. As of 2022, Instinct powers the care of over 50,000 veterinary professionals on 4 continents. It’s no small feat.
Our dirty little secret? We’ve done it without formal training building excellent products, supporting veterinary hospitals, building a team, or in general running a company!
I still remember those lizard brain moments giving me pause in the early days. Like visitors to a petting zoo, countless well-meaning humans fed me and my team’s lizard brains their favorite food: Here are all the reasons you shouldn’t and won’t be able to do that.
Whether you’re starting a software company, opening a veterinary hospital, or going live with new software, you must go against your lizard brain to take risks in order to make progress for yourself and your world.
So how can you accomplish an important goal (like going live with a new software platform) in an organization full of humans hardwired this way?
👉 Here’s the simple trick backed by science: Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.
🧪 Science and the Power of Believing
Believe it or not, there’s real science behind that statement.
One of the most effective ways to accomplish goals of any magnitude is something psychologists call self-efficacy: the belief in your own ability to succeed and achieve goals.
This concept has been credited as one of the reasons some leaders and teams are able to achieve extraordinary results on ambitious projects.
Entrepreneurs can usually relate because we have something in common that we often keep to ourselves: Most of us are wired to believe we can do anything.
👉 Attitude actually determines success or failure! Sounds absurd, doesn’t it?
It turns out that if you believe you will reach your goals, you probably will. If you (or your team) don’t believe you can achieve them, you probably won’t.
The science of self-efficacy has been studied in business, health care, engineering, education, and many other fields.
In weight loss, there has been much debate over the years on whether to focus on exercise or diet to achieve results. Recently, data has shown that it’s actually neither. Instead, belief in the ability to lose weight is the most important factor determining success.
In sports psychology, self-efficacy is achieved through visualization. It’s a powerful way of conditioning athletes' brains to have more successful outcomes. Think of the utility of pregame walk-throughs and planning sessions, or teaching basketball players to “see the ball going through the hoop” to increase shot percentages.
You see the action you want to unfold and truly feel the event taking place in your mind’s eye.
Why does this work? It’s pretty simple: Seeing (and believing in) your success allows you to play out and eliminate unknowns that lead to lizard-brain anxiety, so you can overcome it in a unique way that sets you up for successful action.
🎬 Self-Efficacy in Action: Implementing It in Your Hospital
Now that you have the knowledge, here are some of my tips for instituting success with self-efficacy.
Attitude Starts at the Top
Top-down attitudes (negative or positive) are a choice and a contagious one that infects organizations with shocking speed and results. Knowledge is power: Teach your leaders that positive thinking is hard but works and to choose their attitude tool wisely.
Produce Your Success Movie
Create a mental movie of optimal success for your goal and watch it in your brain over and over. In the case of a software go-live, detail what success looks like, how it will go, what will change, and what it will look like before, during, and in the weeks after. Then communicate it out and play it for your team, highlighting the long-term end goal and your better future (the why of the change).
Frame the Journey with Flexible Expectations
No change is ever 100% roses and butterflies, so recognize that up front by baking it into your movie. Acknowledge that change will come with some negative results along the way to this bigger goal. Detail the ones you know about and recognize that it will be normal to have several that you can’t predict. That’s part of the deal with any great change!
Cater to Your Dinosaurs
This is a tip I’ve been giving for years. To be clear, ‘dinosaur’ here doesn’t refer to age. Dinosaurs are the people on your team who are the most change-averse. If you don’t help them work through the coming change, they risk extinction.
Devote extra time and attention to listening to (not dismissing) their concerns and working through them one by one. This prevents unfounded negativity from spreading to the rest of the organization but also provides early learning. These individuals mean well and often provide terrific lessons to improve the chance of success for the rest of your team.
We all have big, important initiatives going on every day. But before you take on your next big project or goal in your veterinary hospital, I’d ask you to think about one thing first: Do you believe?
Is your next big initiative a software upgrade? See if Instinct EMR is right for you. Request a demo today.