Gregory Ronczewski leads the design of the TeamFit platform – view his profile on TeamFit


Last summer, I was looking for a theme that would capture the essence of TeamFit, and at the same time, change the way we think about skills. One option was to showcase teams that we all are familiar with, yet we do not see them from a skill perspective. An ocean racing sailing team or a symphony orchestra were on my list. Also, a medical team that works in the operating room. That was one of my first choices.

At the time, if someone suggested that I will be able to experience first-hand the synergy between team members of the surgical team, I would have laughed. Life, however, has this magical ability to present unexpected moments and indeed, I had a chance to experience the operating room… from a horizontal perspective.

Last week I was sitting in the waiting room of the surgical services at the hospital, holding a black binder that they gave me at the registration desk and sporting a nice looking blue band on my right wrist. Just for the record, I had a Laparoscopic Hernia Repair, which is minor surgery. Still, it was my first close encounter with the world of medicine. To take my mind off “things” (I was freaking out a bit) I decided to pay close attention to how this hospital unit was functioning. A Service Design approach to solving real problems, and apart from observing, I was playing a role in it.

Let’s start with skills. Of course, I am not in a position to comment on the specific skills required by everyone that I had a pleasure to interact with, except for the whole pack of those hard to define skills that some call “soft” or “interpersonal.” In this case, the ability to “read” the patient’s state of mind, the anxiety or fear, to be able to guide and comfort people as they move from admitting section to the discharge unit. If I had to categorize skills for this space, I would double tag those social skills with the foundation label. Without a lot of Empathy, Listening, Integrity and Communicating it is hard to imagine what would happen.

In one of my posts, I wrote about the inspiration from The Building of Hōryū-ji. The Technique and Wood that Made it Possible by Tsunekazu Nishioka and Jiro Kohara. One of the comments that resonated with me was the notion that skills, of course, are essential to the success of a project, but without a common goal or vision, skills alone will not make a difference. I think this is precisely what I have experienced at the hospital. The leadership and a common goal allowed all the people to function as one team. It allowed everyone to apply the right combination of skills aimed at the comfort that was delivered to patients.

Now, from the Service Design perspective, as it is a design-in-time, it was interesting to observe the different stages of the whole process. After I was asked to change into hospital gown (you know, the one that is open in the back and another that is open on the front) I was told that my “chair” is ready. I guess, this was a surprise. For some reason, I imagined myself on a wheeled stretcher. The way you always see it in the movies. A guy on his back is looking at the ceiling and a group of people pushing the bed through series of doors. Well, perhaps if you are rushed in from an accident. I wasn’t. Instead, I spent some time in my chair. Was the wait long? I don’t know. I think it was exactly what I needed to come to terms with the whole situation. The anxiety level went down. Was it the result of the little green pill that they gave me? Perhaps, or perhaps I had enough time to be ready.

Sitting there, looking at the constant movement of people leaving the admission section holding tight to their IV poles, like sailing ships leaving the harbour on the voyage into the unknown, only to be delivered back while still asleep from the anesthesia to the discharge unit. There was a long wall with several numbered parking spots, and I was asking myself, what will be my number when I am back?

Then a nurse came. She sat for a moment with me, and it was time to go. No ride on a wheeled stretcher, not even a wheelchair. Just a short walk to the operating room. “Are you ready?” asked the doctor “Hop on the table, be careful – it is pretty narrow,” and moments later I was asleep.

Anyway, it’s been eight days since my operation. I wasn’t panicking, but I was quite nervous. I am sure all the other patients were nervous too. Young guys, old guys, woman and man. Everyone with a different story. Looking back, the experience was not that bad considering the whole situation. I know now that I was right choosing an operating room as one of the themes for our landing page. If the team I met last week was using TeamFit, I am sure we would be looking at some serious skill profiles.