$15 Lesson in High Performance Teams
So what can a $15 remote controlled helicopter from K-Mart teach us about High Performance
Teams in Health Care you may ask? …..Well.....Plenty.
A remote control helicopter is a dynamic, reactive, dangerous entity and also at the same time is
highly vulnerable to the simplest systems failure producing complete and utter destruction.
Flown in the hands of a skilled and focussed pilot, the toy is given an amazingly smooth flight that
offers an unimpeded view of the surroundings.
It is poetry in motion. A delight to see.
Flown in the hands of a less skilled and focused person, we are faced with a harrowing experience
that in the least convinces us to never try again, or at worst, a date at the pearly gates.
A remote control helicopter pilot needs to be completely focused and thinking many steps ahead.
They need to navigate themselves in a 360 degree world they hereto never thought much
about, where subtle and often sudden changes in environment will cause the pilot to make new
decisions, change course, or create countermeasures against unseen forces.
In other words, resiliently adapt.
Now imagine everyone in a single theatre has a helicopter; that everyone has the job of keeping
their own toy chopper flying in the sky, avoiding the operating lights, coping with the laminar flow,
watching out for the anaesthetic machine and the Linvatec Tower and other fliers in the sky.
You can see the difficulty.
Now imagine the remote control helicopter as a metaphor for the professional task-set of each person in the theatre, in the performance of an operation or as an extended metaphor, an operating list.
Now Imagine it as a metaphor where everyone across a whole theatre suite is flying, singularly; as a team; and as a team within a much larger team.
I think we are getting there.
Noise on induction? A chopper goes into a tailspin.
Distraction at Time Out? Another helicopter hits the floor.
Incomplete paperwork? Someone flies theirs into a wall.
The person with the biggest helicopter flying without regard to everyone else? All of a sudden you
have conflict and carnage.
Recovery closed? We're running out of batteries and the helicopters are hovering close to the floor.
Fatigued? We suddenly find ourselves spending more time trying to fix our newly broken or damaged helicopters than actually flying them!
Yes. Now you get the picture.
All this from a $15 dollar helicopter? Hell yes!
(A Collaborative Authorship Effort from Pete and John)