The better way to make change

What do nurses do?

Besides doing assessments, giving out medications and consulting with colleagues, have you ever thought about what nurses do every day, regardless of where we work?

We try to make something or someone change.

Many of us work towards educating people and helping them to make better decisions about their health. Some of us work at influencing health care policy-makers and legislation. And there are some of us who work at improving access and reducing health care inequalities.

Seth Godin argues that,

for most of us, our job is to make change. Our job is to connect to people, to interact with them in a way that leaves them better than we found them, more able to get where they’d like to go.

We just don’t think about nursing this way.

Making change begins with realizing that culture influences everything we do. That the ways in which people think and act aren’t actually decisions at all. They’re cultural. A part of who people are.

The reason why people sometimes feel disrespected by us has nothing to do with our ‘nursing skills’, and everything to do with our cultural sensitivity.

Which means that anytime we want to help change something or someone for the better, we need to begin by understanding and shifting culture.

Most of us are used to teaching, helping or influencing one person at a time. In hospitals, clinics and legislative buildings, we meet with the people we seek to impact one by one, behind closed doors. Because this is the way it’s always been done.

But in the long run, this approach isn’t nearly as effective or efficient as organizing groups of people who want to change together.

When groups of people come together for a common purpose, with a committed leader and a way to communicate, they’re far more likely to reach their goals.

The most influential organizations make change not by influencing one person at a time, but by connecting, organizing and leading groups of people who want the same thing.

If you want to change the status quo, to help a population of clients improve their health, to improve the quality of care in your organization or to make your workplace a better place to be, start by finding and forming a small group of people who want to change.

You don’t need everyone. You just need a few committed people who share the same goals.

The hard part is to stop trying to change people who don’t want to hear from you.

Making change is much easier when you create a culture of people who believe what you believe, and want what you want.

Never underestimate the power of groups. They can change everything. Groups of families, clients, colleagues, businesses and lawmakers always have, and always will.