The Institute of Medicine estimates that between 45,000 and 98,000 patients die every year as a result of medical mistakes in hospitals. That number includes instruments accidentally left inside patients on the operating table. Imagine if surgeons and doctors were required to engage in a kind of “pre-flight” procedure, similar to the pre-flight sequence that pilots engage in, before operating or afterward when it’s time to stitch patients up. A checklist would indicate that instruments were missing and could save a life. Not a bad idea, and while the stakes are different, it’s not a big stretch to conclude that similar thinking would also help to increase productivity and best-practice task execution.
EduCel’s Will-it-Fly? Dynamic Knowledge Transfer System (DKTS) was engineered with the pre-flight premise in mind to help cure professional performance issues in the enterprise. By focusing on psychologically grounded prompts to trigger the right thought processes and encourage best practices, enterprise leaders and workers can take advantage of a more specialized type of learning that will enable them to do their jobs right the first time and avoid costly, time-consuming mistakes.
“Look at pilots who have a high success rate of task execution. Pilots have a very specific procedure that they use to affect best practices called pre-flight,” said Evan Berglund, founder, EduCel. “There’s an acceptance that the type of procedure that pilots perform is the most efficient way of affecting best practices. We’ve bottled that procedure.”
The Will-it-Fly? DKTS is a standards-based system using a methodology created to emulate a pilot’s mission-critical operations, encourage a high success rate of task execution and allow for the rapid development of new training modules as needed. The mobility and ease of use in creating modules reduces the number of hours needed for prep time, facilitates productive collaboration, promotes higher project execution success rates and reduces failures in recurring tasks. Will-it-Fly? acts like an automated tutor and provides the user with interactive feedback and assessments in real time.
Berglund’s DKTS was created to be learner-centric and easily adaptable when fed any kind of information for any type of task execution in an enterprise. “There are three main reasons that people fail in task execution,” Berglund said. “The first and most important reason is that we forget. Number two is not knowing or accepting what constitutes best practices. Number three is no ready access to support material at the time of need. You don’t want to take a course or sift through a book at the time of need.”
We all could benefit from a refresher course every once in a while. People frequently forget to do the right thing at the right time in high-pressure or stressful situations. Thankfully, forgetting to engage in a mission or strategically critical task in the enterprise won’t cost a life, we hope! However, it can cost a lot of money and time not to engage in best practices the first time around. Productivity and cost savings are key issues in any organization. “The fastest way to remedy that is with a set of prompts,” Berglund said. “You can call them diagnostic questions or a checklist. This is all at the front end of a module, and it’s not a test, nor do we record any scores. It’s designed to prompt the right thought processes.”
For instance, Berglund used an example where two groups of students read the same exact case studies. One group got a prompt that asked, “Have you compared the case studies?” The other group did not. The first group consistently negotiated nine percent higher on monetary outcome. The second group, who only read the case studies, did not compare them because it didn’t occur to them; they weren’t told to. The first group gleaned valuable information by comparing the case studies and realized how they could negotiate a win-win situation. “It’s critical how you phrase a question and what you ask so you start a process of thinking,” Berglund said. “The right prompt will trigger beneficial thought processes before you do something.”
So if the first problem blocking best-practice use and successful task execution in the enterprise is a lack of advantageous retrieval from memory at the time of need, not knowing what best practices, new research, equipment and procedures are available is the second problem.
“It wouldn’t help you to compare notes on the studies if you forgot the actual case materials,” said Berglund. “We put a list of questions on the front end. You go through a set of prompts, and the system comes back. There is dynamic feedback and it says, ‘Here are the three areas in which you need support,’ and it provides links that go to the information you need. We don’t know what people need. The system detects what they need and serves up only that information. As you go through the prompts, the system calculates its response to how you’ve answered the questions. That’s when you understand, ‘Am I or am I not ready to execute best practices?’ It’s a dynamic system. You get different results.”
If you’re not up to snuff, you may get a little icon depicting a piece of burnt toast and a polite prompt saying that you’re not ready to execute tasks according to best practices. That’s where the third issue comes in: People fail to execute best practices because of a lack of access to chunked and vetted support material. Instead of telling you to start over, Will-it-Fly? continues the learning process and provides links to additional, specific information that you need, when you need it.
Will-it-Fly? was in the developmental pipeline for several years before it rolled out. “Unless the users accept these systems, they become useless,” said Berglund. “The initial reaction from the learning community is, ‘Let’s test someone.’ But that’s not what they’re for. They’re there to affect best practices. When you try to test someone, you can run into political problems, union problems. People don’t like being tested. A pilot doesn’t think of his checklist as a test. He does it because he knows it affects best practices. It’s a bottom-up system. Conceptually it’s sort of like the little blue pill or Viagra for the mind. You pop it just before task execution, right? Then you go through this module. Then the thought processes and the learning that took place sustain you through the task, whatever it is. Our approach to developing this wasn’t typical. The approach was, let’s look at how humans behave and then create a remedy that fixes that. The DNA of what we do at EduCel is to speed things up, make them more efficient and make sure that we affect best practices,” said Berglund. “We’re getting great response.”