“Spend it or Lose it… Really?” Community Spotlight

Community Spotlight:

One of the most valuable features of the Harmony Decision Maker is the Community Library. This is where our 10,000+ users from around the world can share the analysis and implementation status of how they resolved a “dark cloud” – a difficult decision they faced – in their personal life or at work. Users can share their decisions anonymously or with their name. “Sharing really is caring”. By sharing your analysis with others, you help users in two important ways.

Firstly, they realize they are not alone. In our real life (not the “best life” version we share on social media) we all face “dark clouds.” Sharing how you have analyzed and evaporated your dark cloud can give someone else hope.

Secondly, by sharing, we can learn from each other. Not just learn from each other’s successes, but also from our past failures. We all sometimes procrastinate in making good changes or choices or over-react and make bad changes or choices that we regret later. By sharing, you can help someone else avoid such mistakes.

Every month we feature a different user example. To see more, you can download the free Harmony Decision Maker and check out the community library.

The Problem

Avery’s Story

*Avery is department head in the Oncology Department for a State Academic Hospital. She became a doctor because she always wanted to help people – especially those who were most vulnerable and could not afford to get the medical treatment they needed. This is the main reason she rejected every higher paying offer from privately owned hospitals in favor of working in the state hospital. She specialized in oncology, specifically in Breast Cancer, because of the devastating impact it has on families when they lose a mother, wife or daughter to breast cancer.

Avery’s problem started with her promotion to department head. This gave her the unique opportunity to treat the most serious of patients and continue her research, but also gave her the responsibility to allocate the limit resources and budget of her department to those areas she believe was most deserving. Before her promotion, she had never realized how this new position would put her into one of the most serious (but unfortunately very common) moral dilemmas faced by managers and especially those within the public sector.

If she was prudent during the year and had budget remaining in one line item, she could not use the excess on another line item regardless of the need. And the money didn’t carry over to next year’s budget which meant that unless they spent the whole budget for that year, they would lose it.  Avery knew that the budget baseline was based on the previous years expenditures, so if they didn’t spend the whole budget they would risk ending up with a budget too small for next year.

This was a difficult decision for Avery because she wanted to make sure the hospital always had enough money but she didn’t want to spend tax payer’s money on things they didn’t really need.

Avery thought “If I don’t spend the money, I will lose it because I can’t convince the State Health Department to change the system and it would require too much effort and personal risk to try” but is that really true? 

She decided to use the Harmony Decision Maker to find check if these assumption were really true. And if they were, was there some way to resolve her moral dilemma?

The Analysis

Step 1: My Problem – and Why it’s Important to Resolve


My Problem: What is the problem or “dark cloud” you are facing?

Every year, by being prudent throughout the year, I face a conflict on whether to spend any remaining budget before year end or lose it.


Local Impact: Why is the problem bad or important for you to resolve?

As Head of Department, it is my responsibility to ensure resources are not wasted. I feel horrible knowing that I’m spending money just to protect future budgets when that money could have been more wisely invested somewhere else… but I’m not allowed to do that.


System Impact: Why is the problem also bad or important to resolve for others?

The Hospital and health system is wasting scarce budget by forcing department heads to spend it on the line items it was allocated to…even if it is not needed and even if that budget could be used elsewhere more productively.

Step 2: What to Change? Conflict Analysis (My Conflict and Their Conflict)

In Step 2 Avery defined the conflict she faced in dealing with her problem and what she believed the unique Pros and unique Cons were of the “Change vs. No Change” options she had.

Avery community spotlight step 1

Learn more about the ProConCloud Method

Step 3: Conflict Resolution

In step 3, she explored the four options (CHANGE++, NO CHANGE++, WHEN+WHEN NOT and ANOTHER CHANGE) to find the “best” resolution to her conflict.

Avery decided to go for Option 1 – “Change ++”.


She  realized that by adding injections to her “Change” option, she could ensure that the Hospital always had enough money and that no money was wasted on unnecessary things. Her “Change ++” Solution allowed her improve the Hospital, prevent excess spending, and fix her moral dilemma.

Avery Community Spotlight Step 3

So, what were the Assumptions or beliefs Avery challenged?

  1. That she could not convince the State Health Department to allow her to apply savings from one area to other areas that need it more
  2. That it would require major effort and/or willingness to take personal risk to change the system

Of course she knew there would be a few “Yes-buts” to overcome to get all the necessary parties on board so she used Step 4 to find the “Yes-Ands” to overcome these to make the solution more robust.

With all this in mind, Avery was able to move on to Step 5 and create a robust and actionable plan to resolve her decision conflict.

Avery Community Spotlight Step 5

The Aftermath

When reporting the current status, Avery shared that she couldn’t have felt more confident in her final plan. What initially had been a decision that kept her up at night had become something she was passionate about pursuing and helped her better fulfill her goal of helping people in need.

“The Harmony App helped me see a solution to a problem I thought was impossible to solve”

Interested in more Community Spotlights? Check out our video series for more examples like this one. And be sure to read last months spotlight “Tiger-Mom is Accused of Pushing Her Kids and Husband Too Hard to Succeed” if you missed it.

*Name changed to protect the privacy of individuals