HealthEast Care System: Storymapping the Quality Journey

storymapping Oct 08, 2012

Betsy Stites and Pam Hull had a problem. They had completed a focused strategy process in their organization, the HealthEast Care System in St. Paul, MN. Now the big goal for HealthEast was “to be the benchmark of quality in the Twin Cities.” The problem was how!

“There had been a lot of uncertainty,” Betsy reflects. “Quality is so ethereal. We had to figure out a way to integrate things from an organizational and cultural standpoint.”



Getting People on the Same Page

The solution they chose: Storymapping with The Grove Consultants International, to align all of the leadership and quality programs within the HealthEast Care System. The Grove facilitated a strategic planning and Storymap process that engaged more than 60 key stakeholders.

In this new video (click above), HealthEast lead strategist Pam Hull reflects on Storymapping outcomes for HealthEast.


Modern Version of an Ancient Practice

“Storymaps” is a term The Grove Consultants International uses for large, graphic murals that integrate great amounts of information into one image. This may include history, visions, challenges, values, key behaviors and more – all connected to a coherent story that can be shared.

The practice of using large, graphic murals to integrate great amounts of information has a long tradition, if you consider the hieroglyphics in Egyptian tombs or the stained-glass windows in cathedrals as examples. But the contemporary, tight integration of words and graphics in large murals is a relatively recent development.


Vehicle for Organizational Alignment

HealthEast now uses its Quality Journey Map as a platform for decision-making and priority setting, a tool for orienting new employees, a vehicle for alignment across the organization, and a storytelling aid during implementation of new plans.

“It created in one picture frame our past, present, and where we were headed. … The one picture allowed me to explain in five minutes or an hour, to whatever audience, what was appropriate for them.” (Craig Svenson, HealthEast’s chief medical quality officer)


More Benefits of Storymapping

* Uses words and imagery to help people remember not only plans but also the culture and values that make their implementation meaningful.

* Builds understanding of which behaviors need to change to reach the organization’s visions and goals.

* Reveals the big picture and invites system-level insight.

* Supports leaders’ telling critical stories about new directions during culture change or any high-impact organizational change.


Ongoing Impacts at HealthEast

The agreements made in the process of creating HealthEast’s Quality Journey Map got everyone aligned and focused on what to measure. As a result, by 2010 they met their goal of becoming a “benchmark for quality” for health care services in the Twin Cities area.

Pam Hull sums up her organization’s Storymapping experience: “We got 7,000 people coalescing around our vision and goals.”


For questions specific to your organization and Storymaps, email [email protected].

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