Process-Driven in a Goal-Driven World?

Pop quiz time! Raise your hand if, during a family reunion, a holiday dinner or while sitting with other parents at your child’s school function, you have ever heard…
a)    “You work on wheelchairs all day?”
b)    “I don’t think I could work with disabled kids…It would be too sad.”
c)    “Don’t you get depressed because your patients often don’t get better, and in fact, they often get worse?”

So, is your hand raised? If you’ve been in the seating & mobility industry for any length of time, your hand is probably up. Ironically, except for the occasional brutal day, you probably don’t give those phrases much thought…even if they do bear some truth.

Why is that? It might be because you’re process-driven instead of goal-driven. Those two terms describe, in a simplified way, how you view the world, process information, determine which actions you’ll take… and how you define success.

Supposedly, we all naturally lean one way or the other. Goal-oriented people figure out what they want, figure out how to get it, work toward those goals and feel happiness when they achieve them. Whether or not they feel successful depends on their end results.

Process-driven people derive satisfaction from the journey itself. They set goals and move toward them, but the end result is less important than growing, learning and improving along the way. By the time they reach their goals, they’re already looking forward to the next journey, because to them, that’s where the fun lies.

Goal-driven people are happy when they attain their goals. Process-driven people are happy along the way, as long as they’ve grown from their experiences.
Experts generally refrain from saying one type — goal-oriented vs. process-oriented — is intrinsically better than the other. In our personal and business lives, we absolutely need to set goals so we can chart a course of action. But if achieving a goal becomes our sole focus, we can miss out on opportunities for reward along the way.

Fortunately, loving the process comes naturally to rehab providers (or maybe it’s that providers who don’t love the process don’t stick around too long).

Providers enjoy meeting with clients, observing them, listening to them and creating solutions. They wield Velcro and tape measures like artists’ tools, and they take pride in making a client’s life better in whatever way they can, no matter how subtle or possibly short term that improvement is.

The problem is that seating & mobility providers have to survive in a world that’s goal-driven — a world full of documentation requirements, bottom lines and budgets. That reality has gotten even sharper in recent times, when competitive bidding and funding cuts are on everyone’s minds. More and more, we’re hearing the need for providers to learn to be more goal-driven — not because there’s anything wrong with loving the process, but because the ability to continue to love that process hinges on meeting concrete goals, such as running a profitable business so the doors can stay open.

We’re here to help. This month, for instance, The MED Group’s David Jones talks about how rehab education needs are changing to include more business operations content. And Feature Editor Lunzeta Brackens interviewed scooter experts to help providers create efficient evaluations based on clinical need. At the same time, process-lovers will enjoy Invacare Corp.’s Jim Stephenson’s take on funding elevation, and our clinical info on how aging can impact seating choices.

“There’s a fine balance,” Jones says in this issue’s MMBeat, in explaining the industry’s need to learn about outstanding business practices and clinical advancements, and to offer advanced and entry-level training. The good news: Industry experts say it can be done!

This article originally appeared in the August 2008 issue of Mobility Management.

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