Kent Badger, professor of health services management, presented his research called “The Planning and Communication Matrix” during this week’s faculty lecture Monday afternoon.
Badger centered the lecture on his planning process that focuses on results and avoiding problems. He defined a problem as “a deviation from an idealized state.”
To illustrate his thesis, Badger showed a clip from “Jaws” and then presented a case study called “The Amity Beach Blues.”
He asked each member of the audience what they would do if Jaws returned, toothless, but still terrorized the beach. Ideas such as closing the beach, or getting a net and catching the shark were all mentioned multiple times.
Badger then related the case study to his planning and communications model where a person first decides the result objective, then the process objective and finally the resources needed.
“It helps people focus on what they really want,” Badger said. “It forces them to decide and support their rationale.”
Over the course of 20 years, Badger’s research developed from a linear model into an easily digested matrix. Instead, the linear model became chunks of thinking that give clearer ideas of objectives and processes, and creates accountability.
“One of the best things about the matrix is that it is very visible,” Badger said. “With a budget, you know exactly what you’re spending and why.”
To make the matrix work, people, organizations or companies must clearly define and identify the result first. He said that a group must define what is worthwhile to them and then figure out the expense. By lumping new acquisitions together, they are easier to understand and have more manageable deadlines.
“He did a really good job of explaining it,” Alyssa Carroll, sophomore biology major, said. “Breaking down general topics made it much more understandable.”
“I like the fact that it is extremely transparent,” Kyle Porter, junior criminology and French major, said.
Besides his emphasis on the planning aspects of management, Badger also explained the importance of communication. The matrix is a communication device because it clearly and precisely communicates key issues and plans to others within the group or company.
It also creates accountability because the goals are so focused.
“I think it is important to hold individuals responsible for objectives,” Badger said. “The only time we punish failure is for ineptitude and indifference. Not for any good reasons.”
“I felt like it has always been part of a business process, but always just on paper,” Niall Harrison, junior sociology major, said.
Badger’s planning and communication matrix does not only apply for large-scale corporate companies, but also for small groups, non-profits or for students’ everyday lives.
“You could use the matrix with your boyfriend or girlfriend because it pushes the level of analysis higher,” Badger said.
“‘What movie do we want to see? Well, what do we want out of the movie?’ Each is participating, and makes them focus on why they are doing it. It is very easy to shift this to figure out what you really want.”
“I think it’s more difficult to apply to everyday life,” said Sarah Barthel, junior English major. “There are times when it’s more useful than others.”
Hayley Hulin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.