Find Champions Who Will Guarantee Your VA Team’s Success

Robert T. Yokl, President/CEO, SVAH Solutions

There is one common thread that I have observed with ultra-successful value analysis teams; they all have champions – at the highest level – to challenge, motivate, and fight for them through the good times and bad. Even Larry Miles, the father of value analysis, had a champion (his boss) at the General Electric Company when he devised and deployed his VA technique at GE in the 1940s.

How to Find Your Primary Champion

First off, your primary champion needs to be from your senior management level (CEO, CFO, COO, CMO, CNO, EVP, VPs, etc.) to be most effective. This is because these individuals get people’s attention and are listened to when they speak. We have generally found that your CFO is a natural champion for your value analysis program because of its obvious cost and quality improvement benefits. This is the person you would first approach with your value analysis program proposal, who then could shepherd it through your administrative team process for approval. This is the same person who would become the chairperson for your value analysis steering committee, so they can continue their guiding of your VA program to its ultimate success.

Note: If you already have a value analysis program, you might want to revisit it to ensure that you have a primary champion who supports, defends, and is a booster for your value analysis efforts. If not, you might want to employ the above process to reinvent what you have been doing.

How to Identify Your Secondary Champions

Next, you will need to appoint one champion (or administrative representative) for each of your value analysis teams. The person (appointed by your CEO) would come to every one of your VA team meetings to challenge, motivate, and fight for their value analysis team. They would also be a member of your value analysis steering committee. Their specific responsibilities would include:

  • Helping your VA team to side step the political minefields that can damage your team’s image or reputation. 
  • Negotiate with department heads and managers who don’t want to change their behavior or practices for the better. They are a champion of change for your VA team!
  • Monitor and then intervene if your VA team isn’t meeting its time, budget, and savings targets. 
  • Be a cheerleader if your team needs to be motivated to improve its performance or overcome barriers to its success.
  • Keep your senior management team informed of the progress of their value analysis team.

I can’t emphasize more strongly how important this position of champion is to your value analysis team. Without this position, we have seen VA team’s falter, blunder, or be ignored by your healthcare organization’s department heads and managers. Don’t let this happen to your value analysis team(s).

Note: If you don’t have champions for all of your value analysis teams or have a value analysis steering committee, now is the time to re-engineer your value analysis program with these two features for maximum results.

Characteristics of a Champion

A value analysis champion is a unique position since there is no formal job description for this role on your value analysis team. However, there are important characteristics that you should look for and encourage when providing criteria to your CEO for the selection of these individuals as follows:

  • Curious to understand how the hospital, system, or IDN’s products, services, and technologies are purchased and employed throughout the healthcare organization.
  • Defender of low cost/ high quality product, service, and technology purchases.
  • Campaigner for positive and timely change management within the healthcare organization. 
  • Promoter of better cost, quality, and safety outcomes for your patient population.

These four traits are broad examples of the characteristics of a champion your CEO should be looking for in your VA team’s administrative representative. In short, your champion should enjoy your VA process or they will be bored with your VA methodology and skip coming to your VA meetings.

Every Successful Management Technique Has a Champion

Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense in President John F. Kennedy’s administration, championed value analysis in government, and Bob Galvin, CEO of Motorola, and Jack Welsh, CEO of General Electric, championed Six Sigma in their organizations. These are success stories that wouldn’t have happened without these individuals advocating, supporting, promoting, and defending these new management techniques. It’s the same with your value analysis program at your healthcare organization – you need champions to be ultra-successful. For your healthcare organization to remain competitive, increase profitably, and improve its bottom line year-after-year, you need primary and secondary champions of your value analysis program to support these goals. It’s the first step to success, but not the only step to supercharge your value analysis program.