Good Leaders Drive Results!

Leaders are expected to be creative problem solvers, challenge the status quo and visualize problems before they occur. Your success as a leader is largely dependent upon how quickly you seek improvement in broken processes, develop new procedures and maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

Below are three tips to help you stay in front of the curve when managing your people and organization through change and drive results: Read Full Article.

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Success or Failure: Healthcare Can Not NOT Change

One can not, not change – especially in business. And, though not always a popular perspective, healthcare is not only a business, it is big business. With many rural communities, the local healthcare system is the primary economic driver. It may sound harsh, but in business, it has been said that we are either growing, adjusting or dying.

As an avid fitness enthusiast, I can personally attest that I must either work to improve, or I will lose the progress I have made - requiring almost constant re-assessment and modifications to my programs. Especially as I age. What I was able to do 10, much less 20 or 30 years ago will no longer render the same results today. Very much like rural health.

Change and growth can be intimidating. It requires making choices on probability weighted outcomes. There must be a willingness to make additional investments, or cutting budget of one area to expand another. And, perhaps the scariest issue is leaving the known (what has been done), to embrace the unknown.

With any business, we must continuously evaluate our market to make effective strategic adjustments. Our communities’ needs, demographics, reimbursement, regulations and staffing – the only constant within healthcare is change. Read Full Article.

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Sustainable Population Health -- Who's on First?

Part A of this article clarifies the blurring terminology that can inadvertently stunt health improvement understanding and action.

Post-truth, Fake news, Misinformation (Dictionary.com words of the year for 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively). Let’s be clear: How is population health different from community and public health? How does it relate to health disparities? A senior leader discussion on these topics can begin to sound like a rendition of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First?”

The terms Community Health, Public Health and Population Health are often used with the same broad brush. But advancement in our thinking and action start with clarity of our language and terminology. Clearly there is much common ground with these terms. To start 2019 off with clarity, below is a summary delineation of these terms. Read Full Article

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In Praise of Corporate Tension

“Corporate will be here next week to help…”

“Corporate is sending out a team in person to review the project.”

“Corporate is coming out for a visit.”

These words can immobilize the most courageous of hearts. Many at the clinical sites believe corporate exists to disrupt and provide self-enhancement for the corporate individual making the demand. The incoming request often appears as a consistent disruptor to the local individual who is focused on the hospital, clinic or community issues. As a non-corporate individual, you are at the site addressing immediate and multiple priorities. The demands can range from concerns for improving patient care, addressing colleague concerns or responding to the corporate enhanced financial issues to name just a few of the more common daily agenda items. In fact, you may even be reacting to a situation affecting the greater importance (?) of your immediate supervisory interacting environment (i.e. keeping your local boss happy). Whatever the corporate demand at the time, it can seem to distract from the work necessary to be successful at the site. Furthermore, from the limited view in field, the request can sometimes make no sense as to its timing or priority except “Home Office needs it now.”

The tension between the entities in the field and the corporate power is real. The euphemism of “Corporate,” with all of its priority setting, sweeping powers, and down-flowing time demands can cause untold tension and disruption at the sites. However, corporate has its own demands and in the final measure is often made up of people just attempting to survive and succeed. Good leaders are conscientious individuals balancing competing demands, shifting priorities, and seemingly continuously adjusting metrics driven by someone else’s “higher-up” tinkering. Both sections of the organization contain people searching for a positive impact. Same organization. Different pressures. Competing language. How does that language sound as a result of differing views? Let’s take a look and listen in: Read Full Article.

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The Obstacle is the Path

“The obstacle is the path” is a Zen proverb that tells us that obstacles are the key to success.

Sometimes the only way out is through. The key to overcoming adversity is at times simple perseverance. Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Churchill was surrounded by people who, early in World War II, wanted him to give in to Hitler. He would not surrender. If he had, the world would be a very different place today.

Adversity gives us strength. Great athletes must challenge their bodies to develop the strength, skill and agility needed to excel. My mother is fond of quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.” The Russians are the masters of extended times in space. These cosmonauts were able to spend many months in the apparent weightlessness of space free of the constraints of gravity, but when they landed on the steppes of Kazakhstan, they had to be carried away on stretchers. They had lost so much bone and muscle mass that they could no longer stand.

In entrepreneurship, we are taught that the key to innovation is the “pain”. The pain is the problem that your innovation solves. If there is no pain, no problem, then there is no need for your innovation. Many entrepreneurs developed innovations that made them very successful when they found that the marketplace did not offer a solution to their own problem. They knew that others would value their solution if available so they offered a product or service to solve the same problem for others. Read Full Article.

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Impacting Change Through Challenge

While talking with volunteers at the information desk, in walks the sweetest elderly couple. Both were in their mid to late 80s. The wife is using a cane with one hand and holding onto her husband for support with the other.

An early August day, outside temperatures were in the upper 90s. It was my first week working within a $40M health system as interim CEO and consultant. The facility offered a vast array of both general and specialized services. Without counting the licensed beds, one would never know it was not an urban health system, but rather a Critical Access Hospital.

As they approach, I greet them with a smile and ask if there’s anything I can do to help. The husband said they were here for some laboratory work.

The long walk from the parking lot during the heat of the day had clearly taken its toll on them both, but thankfully, the Laboratory/Radiology department was nearby. The lab tech quickly came out, offering the husband a seat in the hallway and taking the wife back into the offices for her blood work.

I looked around and noticed the “waiting area” consisted of a few hard-plastic chairs sitting in a major traffic area right off the main lobby.

Little did I know what awaited me, as I told the husband I would get him some ice water and be right back. That is when the adventure began … Read Full Article

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What Southwest Airlines can teach us about running our own organizations

In an industry where its competitors have frequently gotten into serious financial difficulty, Southwest Airlines has maintained profitability every year for the previous 45 years. This is an amazing accomplishment. We will explore some of the strategies that Southwest Airlines has used to drive that success.

Southwest Airlines has only ever flown one type of airplane, Boeing 737’s. All its pilots, flight attendants, ground crews and mechanics are trained to work with every plane Southwest owns. Southwest must maintain a parts inventory for only one type of plane. I see two lessons to be learned from the strategy. The first is the value of simplicity. The second is the importance of sticking to your strategy. I am sure that over the years they were tempted at times to buy smaller planes to service smaller markets and to buy bigger planes to service foreign markets. Southwest did not yield to the siren call of chasing every potential customer. They would only pursue those customers who fit within their business model.

Southwest Airlines does not believe that the customer is always right. The late Herb Kelleher, former CEO of Southwest Airlines, said that the customer is not always right. “And I think that’s one of the biggest betrayals of employees a boss can possibly commit. The customer is sometimes wrong. We don’t carry those sorts of customers. We write to them and say, ‘Fly somebody else. Don’t abuse our people.’” So, what does this approach do for Southwest’s customer service? My own experience is that Southwest employees have always been warm and gracious to my family and me. But for more objective evidence we will look at the Temkin Experience Ratings. Southwest has rated number one for customer experience among US airlines every year since 2011 except for 2015. Read Full Article.

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Rural Health's Specialty Lies in the Special Care

It was my first time back to a rural hospital. Though I had practically grown-up in rural health – both with frequent visits as a volunteer and as a support services employee – I had not been within the walls of a rural hospital in many years. And never had I been in one as a healthcare executive.

I arrived early, intending to look around and meet a few staff to better prepare me for a meeting with the Critical Access Hospital’s Board of Directors.

One of my first interactions was with a nurse coming out of a patient room. She was clearly emotional. Practically crying. I had seen the impact of caring for patients over the years. But this was not that. No, it was not simply a nurse and patient, but something much more. Even with my many years of experience, I didn’t yet know what I didn’t know – or regrettably, perhaps had forgotten. (Read Full Article)

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A visionary leader is proactive

Reactive vs Proactive Leadership

I do a lot of reading on leadership. About 2 years ago, I read a book in which the author briefly contrasted reactive and proactive leaders. The author said that reactive leader does not seem to anticipate problems and does not see them coming until they are blowing up in his face. The reactive leader is constantly putting out fires. The proactive leader on the other hand sees problems just as they are starting to grow, or even before they begin, and calmly takes quiet and gentle steps to correct and avert so that the conflicts and disruptions are minimized or even completely prevented.

A reactive leader may be confronted with ugly contentions for any combination of the following reasons:

  1. Does not see the problem or consider that it might develop.
  2. Sees the potential problem, but does not want to be bothered over something that “might” happen.
  3. Sees the problem, but is afraid to act.
  4. Created the problem by misguided attempts to solve other problems.
  5. Enjoys contention and creates problems in part to create sparring opportunities or opportunities to assert dominance that are ego driven rather than leadership required.

The proactive leader does as Walter Gretzsky did and skates “to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” He has an eye to future disruptions. He sees the problems and is ready, willing and unafraid to act. He does not shy away from healthy conflict resolution, but prevents or minimizes unhealthy contention within his organization. He may disrupt his organization to move it where it needs to be to survive and thrive, but he will not allow his organization to be disrupted to no purpose.

I recently read an online article that presented reactive and proactive leaders as two equally valid leadership styles.i The reactive leader is presented in this article as strong in the surprise conflict, but weak in anticipatory leadership and the proactive leader as strong in long-range planning, but weak when called upon to “shoot from the hip.” I could not disagree more. A reactive leader is responding to whatever hits him and cannot have a firm hand on the tiller of the organization. For the proactive leader, the ability to extrapolate likely future scenarios and to predict human nature and act with vision and foresight does not make one unable to act upon the present urgencies and emergencies. Indeed, a proactive leader who has an eye to the future will be able to craft acute conflict resolution that is long lasting and strengthening to the organization.

Now, here is the part that stuns me, yet I have seen time and time to be true. This unknown author says that the reactive leader is often seen as the stronger leader, because he is often seen with guns blazing at a terrible dragon he is slaying for the organization, even if he is the one who fed and nurtured that dragon. The proactive leader is too often seen as weak or irrelevant. Why is he even needed? The organization seems to run itself. He often addresses problems discretely allowing key stakeholders to save face in front of the rest of the organization while bringing them effectively back on track. So much of what he does is unseen so it is assumed that it is not happening.

iPROACTIVE OR REACTIVE LEADERSHIP, WHICH IS MOST EFFECTIVE IN THE WORKPLACE? VICKY BAILEY, 2016-12-02

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Want to build your culture -- start by sweeping the floor!

Over the years, I’ve heard many stories, inspirational stories on leadership, one of my favorites involves President John F. Kennedy and his first visit to NASA in 1962. As the story goes, the President was touring the facility when he came across a janitor carrying a broom down the same hallway as the touring President. Kennedy, a great lover of people stopped him and asked him what he did for NASA, not missing a beat he replied, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon”.

As I reflect on this, I’m struck by the absolute simplicity of this statement, but also the way it speaks volumes. This individual clearly understood that he was an integral part of the team, no matter what the role. If he did his job well, he contributed to the overall success of the team, engineer, scientist, astronauts etc. His job, although different in almost every way imaginable from his colleagues, still contributed to achieving the overall goal, that of putting a man on the moon. Read Full Article

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Process Transformation – A Way to Reduce Cost, Improve Quality, Etc., Etc., Etc.

“Gary Skarke is an expert in the area of transformation. His company’s success, for the most part, has been outside of healthcare but has touched healthcare on a small scale. As we all know, healthcare is going through a significant transformation and most of what he will share in the article below aligns well with what is happening in the healthcare industry today."

This is the third article in a series of articles focusing on the many types of transformation his company has helped other organizations navigate successfully and how these same situations are occurring within healthcare today.” – Jim Wiederhold

Click here to read the first and second article.

Process transformation focuses on making major changes to the activities and tasks (the how) by which the organization delivers its products and/or services. A core process (i.e., one that adds value to the customer) might be inquiry to order, order to cash, or product line development. Tools used to transform processes frequently includes business process reengineering, process redesign, Six Sigma, Lean or other quality related tools.

A global software manufacturer reduced the cost to process a customer order from $800 to $125. Sales reps saved an average of two hours a week (7% improvement) contacting customers by phone. The CEO said, “Sales reps tell me the time they used to spend putting together sales forecasts now spend that time on strategies to make that forecast a reality.” Initially, the client was frustrated because they spent several months analyzing the “as is” order process and the team was totally unmotivated. Their over analysis was paralyzing them. They quickly re-energized when they shifted to redesigning the “to be” process.

In healthcare, organizations are compelled to improve their treatments, eliminate non, value-added tasks, reduce wait time and cost, treat more patients -- while improving quality and patient outcomes. Such dramatic improvements can generally only be achieved and sustained with a rigorous and aggressive process improvement effort.

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The recipe for creating value

When I was in college, the church that I attended had a booth every year at the local fair. We made a pastry called an elephant ear. I have seen at fairs funnel cakes which are made by pouring a liquid batter into hot oil and frying it. The elephant ear dough was mixed in a huge mixer. It had eggs in it. The dough was allowed to rise. It was then punched down, weighed out into balls and set on large cookie sheets to rise again. Volunteers sitting at tables would pat the balls into flat disks. These were fried in hot peanut oil and then covered with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar. In the mid-1980s we sold these for two dollars apiece. They sold like, well, hotcakes. Many people would pay to get in the fair solely to buy elephant ears. There was always a line. If people saw that the line had gotten short, they would run to get in the line. We could sell as many as we could make.

I was in the booth one Saturday morning patting out elephant ears when I noticed Brother “Jones” handling sales. He was a very kind and pleasant man but age was upon him, and he was absolutely overwhelmed with the task. He had before him a line of people who were eager to get elephant ears and behind him stacks of elephant ears growing cold. I spoke to the team leader and asked him if he could arrange for Brother “Jones” and I to exchange positions, of course, handling it in a way that was not hurtful to Brother “Jones’s” feelings. The team leader declined to have us exchange positions but asked me to assist Brother “Jones” with sales.

We began to quickly make sales, and the stacks of unsold elephant ears got much shorter. Soon Brother “Jones” was at one of the tables patting out elephant ears. This was not a terrible place to be. There was always lively and pleasant conversation at the tables, and the task was ideally suited to his capabilities. I now had helping me another brother who was young, like I was, and energetic. We found ourselves waiting for elephant ears to be produced so we could sell them.

A new problem became apparent. The elephant ears were coming out of the vat and were stacking up waiting to have cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar applied. I spoke to the team leader who moved someone to assist with this task. Each time product piled up at a certain point in the process, I would ask the team leader to add or exchange human resources to speed the flow of product through the production chain.

The following day was Sunday. It was announced in church that the elephant ear booth averaged about $11,000 per year in sales, yet the day before we had sold $4000 in elephant ears. The fair would run each year for 11 days. We were not open on Sundays so we would run our booth for nine days each year. This gives us a daily average just over $1200. While Saturdays had more people at the fair than weekdays, demand always exceeded supply even on weekdays. We had tripled our sales that day by simply using our available resources more efficiently.

Several years later while in college, I read The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox. This book is a business novel that describes the same process I did in the elephant ear booth but done in an air conditioner manufacturing plant. The protagonist identifies bottlenecks in the production stream by where product in process piles up and then eliminates the bottleneck by moving resources to that step. I highly recommend this book for business leaders.

The ideal value strategy requires no additional investment of resources but uses the current resources more efficiently to deliver quantity and quality, such as: a faster moving line delivering more and hotter elephant ears. We must not be afraid to make small investments when we know that there will be substantial return on investment. Large investments may be necessary and wise, but the larger the investment, the greater we risk, and the higher returns that are necessary to create a value result.

Read previous articles related to this topic:

Article 1: Your business’ future lies in an abundant strategy – not in scarcity

Article 2: Maximum Wow Strategies Lead to Scarcity

Article 3: Fat cutting from an organization can be taken too far – Are you starving your organization?

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Maximum Wow Strategies Lead to Scarcity

See Previous post.

A maximum wow strategy is when a lot of money is spent on something grand, splashy and showy that delivers little or no value to the company or its customers.

A prime example of this is when a company builds an expensive and extravagant off-site corporate headquarters. When I was a young man, my father told me, “Son, beware of your ego. A man’s ego can get him into a lot of trouble and cost him a lot of money. Ego trips are very costly.” Many a company has been severely weakened by a CEOs ego trip of building a lavish corporate headquarters that often was not even needed. The offices they already had were serving the company just fine.

For a counter example I would offer Walmart. Walmart is the largest brick-and-mortar retail establishment in the world by a very large margin. Its corporate offices have for many years been in the top of its warehouses in Bentonville, Arkansas. Top corporate officers are in plain offices with cheap wood paneling and utilitarian steel desks. This proximity to its distribution centers gave corporate officers a profound and intimate understanding of the needs of its supply chain. Walmart developed the most sophisticated automated distribution centers of any brick-and-mortar retailer. These sophisticated automated distribution centers are credited with a large part of Walmart’s competitive advantage over other brick-and-mortar retailers. This is Sam Walton’s legacy. As wealthy as he was, he was a man without an ego. He was a form follows function kind of man. Good enough was good enough. We will save excellence for our customers.

If a competitor had wanted to destroy Walmart, instead of building a gleaming corporate headquarters in the downtown of a major American city for themselves, they would have built and paid for one for Walmart on the condition that they must house their corporate officers there. This would have isolated Walmart’s leadership from the needs of its supply chain and decreased the likelihood that they would have ever built their automated distribution centers costing them their current competitive advantage.

Value is defined as quality divided by cost. So how do we define quality? Is it a large towering building built of the finest materials and sitting on a piece of prime real estate? Or is it proximity, awareness, humility and engagement? I would argue that Walmart’s choice of its corporate offices was the value decision not just because it delivered at a lower cost but also because it delivered a higher-quality leadership engagement for the company.

A maximum wow strategy is company leadership writing big checks and taking on heavy debt to be paid for by the company for ego-driven projects that deliver low value to the organization.

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A Case of Stinking Thinking?

Are you or anyone you know suffering from an advanced case of “stinking thinking”, as Zig Ziglar would call it? Quick, you must do something about it! Do not get stuck in the vicious cycle of misery motivation as misery loves company. Here are some simple tactics that can help:

  • Research supports that the first significant encounter of the day impacts the rest of the day, more than 4 encounters combined in the rest of the day. Start your day with positive, relaxing or energizing activities and stay away from experiences or people that are negative triggers. You cannot avoid them, but knowing that they sap your energy, you need to ensure that they are not at the beginning of your day.
  • Self-talk is proven to lead to a winning attitude. May feel a little weird but it works! Your brain needs positive stimulation in terms of encouragement and who better to do it than you. The Pygmalion Effect or self-fulfilling prophecy is equally true when applied to yourself.
  • If you do not enjoy self-talk, have a wish box. Write down notes or desires or wishes that you want to come true. Every night or morning take a quick look at them, so you are reiterating them to yourself. The power of repetition cannot be underestimated.
  • Eyes are a window to your soul! You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with how you see yourself. So, work on your self-image. You must be your biggest advocate and promote yourself. Be aware of your strengths, leverage them and work on your areas for improvement. Set simple goals for yourself so you view progress and that enhances your self-confidence.
  • Attitude is a discipline - it teaches you obedience and enhances your leadership abilities. We all look up to role models that inspire us with their attitude as well as actions. Positive thinking has its limitations I agree. You cannot do everything just with an attitude perhaps, but you can surely do everything better than you can with a negative attitude.
  • Change your lens. Do not be a fault finder. Find the good in things or people. Use appreciative inquiry when you interact with others. You cannot control what others do or say but you can choose how to react or be proactive and choose how you let other people in.
  • Get your neurotransmitters to do the work! Dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine and endorphins are known to physiologically boost your “emotions”. Learn more about how you can help yourself release these and build that into your routine. Physical exercise is one easy way, but everyone’s body and life circumstances are different so find what works for you.
  • Attitude of gratitude. The healthiest of all emotions is gratitude. It is very easy to let one negative encounter or one aspect of our life or work that is not working in our favor to influence everything else. Make a gratitude list and look at it often. On better still, think of one thing that you are grateful for at the start of each day. For every reason that you find to be miserable, I guarantee you can find at least 2-3 to celebrate, you just need to look!
  • Give it all you got! I tell students that I mentor, don’t have too many options. Although prudence suggests having a backup plan, it dilutes your efforts and attention. Data supports that immigrants are 4 times more likely to become millionaires in America. Why is that? As an immigrant, it is the unwavering persistence and the commitment to excel and not having many options that has driven me consistently. Now your goal doesn’t have to become a millionaire but regardless push yourself to your limits and see how your destiny unfolds!

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How to be Intentional every day

The word intentionality or intentional has become very popular over the last couple of years. Hopefully, the meaning of the word will not be dumbed down to the point of being overused and ineffective.

Intentional- Done on purpose, deliberate

Intentionality- The fact of being deliberative and purposive

I embraced this word almost two years ago and it has become a very important part of my vocabulary and ultimately -- my success.

I attach intentionality to nearly everything I do. Whether it be choosing what to eat for breakfast or looking at my schedule for the day, in that moment, I am focused on giving the best of me and intentionally becoming hyper-focused and in-the-moment.

Here are some ideas that apply not just to career transition but also to you in your everyday interactions.

  1. Be focused on your interactions. Any interaction, whether on the personal or business side, I make a conscious effort to bring some level of value to the interaction. I don’t just pull this out of the sky, I think about it before the interaction actually takes place. However, this does not mean I have to control the conversation. Even when all my plans fall by the wayside, I can be a very intentional listener and that will always bring value to the conversation.
  2. Minimize multitasking. Make the most of your day with “zones.” I am intentional about getting the most out of each and every day. I utilize the concept of zones. Setting my calendar up this way allows me to reach proficiency in one task before moving onto the next zone. I relate it to running because in the beginning, you’re not very efficient, but as you proceed you reach the highest level of efficiency in your stride and breathing with the least amount of energy. However, eventually you will start to tire and you will lose that efficiency. It is at this point that I move into the next zone. I do not allow, as much as possible, outside disturbances to distract me while I am in that zone and I do not engage in multitasking. I am very much in the moment.
  3. Find balance in your daily routine. After many years, I’ve come to realize that three things must be in balance in my life in order for me to be at my best. They are sleep, diet, and exercise. When these are not in alignment, I don’t make the best decisions, nor do I ask the best questions. On days when I’m out of balance, I will minimize my contact with people and not make any major decisions. Even this is intentional. We all have off days. Overall, I am very intentional about keeping these in balance. It’s not just being aware of the need for this balance, but taking action and creating the best, most intentional you.

Intentionality has a great deal do with preparation. Without preparation, how can we really be intentional? Without preparation, how successful can we be? Let us not fly by the seat of our pants, let us be purposeful about what we do, mindful about how we live and what value we have to offer in each and every moment.


Join the WIN (Wiederhold Intentional Network)!

The main purpose of the Wiederhold Intentional Network is to take networking from the typical shotgun approach to the rifle approach.

  1. You will expand your network with little effort on a consistent ongoing basis with individuals at a similar level.
  2. You will gain industry intelligence from these key interactions.
  3. Most important, you will give back to others as a resource and a catalyst.
  4. It's free!

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to join or click here for more information!

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What is transformation…and why should we care?

“I’d like to introduce Gary Skarke. He is an expert in the area of transformation. His company’s success, for the most part, has been outside of healthcare but has touched healthcare on a small scale. As we all know, healthcare is going through a significant transformation and most of what he will share in the article below aligns well with what is happening in the healthcare industry today.

This is the first in a series of articles focusing on the many types of transformation his company has helped other organizations navigate successfully and how these same situations are occurring within healthcare today.” – Jim Wiederhold

* * * * * * * * * *

In today’s environment, organizations must change – and change dramatically – to survive and thrive. Who remembers what happened to RCA televisions, Motorola cell phones, or Myspace (competitor with Facebook) or how they lost their market leadership? They did not make the dramatic innovations and changes (typically called transformations) to stay ahead of the competition. Businesses have made transformations for a number of years although they were previously called under the headings of quality, reengineering, Lean Six Sigma, and others. Such transformations were made to cut costs, grow, increase customer satisfaction or simply stay in business. United States healthcare similarly has and is undergoing transformations, many of which are mandated by the U.S. government, like electronic medical records. We wanted to share what transformations are happening with businesses so that they can be applied more readily to healthcare.

Organizations are appropriately cautious about transformations. A 2015 survey by McKinsey* found that only 26% have been “very” or “completely” successful at both improving performance and equipping the organization to sustain improvements over time. Transformation is an overused term. It is not a tweek, but an overhaul – a complete change in the way business is done. IBM was at one time only a provider of hardware such as computers but transformed successfully into a provider of consulting services. The amount of effort that goes into the change is proportional to the impact on the organization. The bigger the change, the bigger the effort, and the bigger the potential results. Transformations can be around any or all of the following: strategy, process, systems, metrics and culture. We will cover each of these areas in a series of brief articles.

* McKinsey & Co., 2015, “How to Beat the Transformation Odds”

TBO International LLC provides transformation services to help clients beat the odds for successful outcomes.

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The Importance of Mentorship in Our Lives

We all need guidance. Even the most seasoned professional needs a sounding board from time to time. I am a firm believer that as professionals we can choose to never stop growing, learning, and evolving into the best version of ourselves. Part of this growth is directly influenced by the people we seek out for support.

One of the things my mother said to me as a young adult was, “You are the company you keep.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was talking about mentorship and being mentored in the most basic sense. To affect another in a positive way and to have them do the same in return, all while growing as a person.

Three ways a mentor/mentee relationship adds value to your life:

  1. Lends you a new perspective. Being a mentor or mentee puts you in the mindset of the other person, even if just for a moment. It can be invaluable to get the perspective of another professional on situations that are occurring in your world in which you feel you have little to no control over. This type of discussion could lead to possible action items or solutions. At the very least, you will leave the conversation feeling like someone actually understands.
  2. Growth opportunity. Often your mentor has been in the profession longer than you and can offer additional insight into a lot of different scenarios. Soak this type of information up and learn from it. Take the gift of hindsight they offer you and make improvements and grow because of it. Conversely, a mentor can grow equally from the vision a younger professional may bring to the table.
  3. Expand your network and give back. Share connections with one another. Start building relationships with the professionals that your mentor/mentee connect you with. This is how genuine professional friendships are created. It’s interesting how things work. While you might be the mentee in one relationship, you will become the mentor in the next. In each instance though you will grow as a professional and as an individual. It’s a win-win.

At Wiederhold & Associates we are launching a mentor program offering our large network of professionals the chance to create deep and meaningful professional relationships with one another. With over 25 years in the healthcare industry, Wiederhold and Associates has one of the largest and most effective networks in the United States. Our Mentor Program takes this network connection one step deeper. It gives the mentor and the mentee the opportunity to use common experiences to glean further insight into life and career situations. There is no stronger bond than those created through shared experience.

Interested in joining our Mentor Program? Click here for more information.

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Leadership's Necessary Ingredients

By definition the term Leadership implies that one has followers, but in real life how does one obtain followers? Often individuals are in positions where the job description states very explicitly they will have authority over the activities, schedules, performance, etc., etc., of others. This is a big responsibility but does being in a position of authority make you a leader? If not, does authority require leadership? Conversely, does leadership require authority?

Is leadership essential for positions of authority, or is it just a human trait that would be nice if available? If a person in authority - aka ‘boss’ - does not have to be a leader, then should we say that leadership is not a prerequisite for being a boss? If not, then if the boss doesn’t formally lead then who does? In my experience, I have found that often the greatest leaders in an organization are not individuals who are in positions of authority but nevertheless have followers and influence the organizational team and culture in very significant ways whereupon often the implementation and execution of organizational goals and objectives are directly determined by them - our informal leaders. Some examples of leaders without formal title and authority were Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Joan of Arc to name a few.

I have found that it is optimal if bosses are also leaders, but unfortunately the former does not always entail the latter. Often an organization has people in positions of formal authority and responsibility who are not leaders and consequently have very little influence and leverage over team productivity and goal execution but yet have all the responsibility. Although it must be noted that frequently when a boss is not a leader it is due to no fault of his or her own. Maybe they are new to the organization or possibly young and lack experience, maybe a bad hire and put in the wrong position or maybe they are experts in a vital area but truly possess little ability in areas of communication and or interaction with people. There can be numerous reasons why a boss is not a leader.

These formal bosses may make decisions and create and finalize numerous policies, but still are not able to actually achieve progress towards the organization’s goals and objectives because they have few if any followers. Often, they will experience frustration and or anger and may be tempted to implement and execute policy and protocols with force, fear and intimidation to make up for their shortfall in leadership. Unfortunately, this usually has a disastrous affect, fostering anger, resentment, resistance and or anxiety and paralysis. Ultimately the results show up on the P&L in the form of higher labor cost caused by excessive turnover, unwarranted overtime and lower revenue caused by poor patient experience and lower quality of care i.e., angry or afraid staff just are not capable of giving compassionate, attentive, high quality care.

I have found there are two essential ingredients necessary for genuine leadership; respect and like. Respect means people believe you know where you are going and you know how to get there. Like means they believe you care about them and that you want them to succeed and enjoy the journey. If they respect you but do not like you then they will follow you but they will not stay with you. If they like you but do not respect you then they will stay with you but they will not follow you. To be a true leader and to achieve real success you must have both; competency and compassion, intelligence and heart, respect and like. This will result in followers who voluntarily follow and stay with you long enough to accomplish something meaningful.

There are three key questions then presented:

  1. How do we assure that people in positions of formal authority and responsibility become true leaders?
  2. How do we assure organizational success during their leadership educational journey?
  3. How do we assure utilization of people not in positions of authority and responsibility but who are genuine leaders?

First, to accomplish the aforementioned, we as senior leaders must create through our actions and our hiring process a culture of caring and respect. Simply said, “The Golden Rule must be part of our key criteria for hiring, it should be emphasized in orientation and clearly and strongly stated in our code of conduct and be the center of our continuing education. But most importantly it must be ‘shown’ in our daily walk and talk, emphasized in our interaction with direct reports and leaders of tomorrow and exemplified in our decision making and prioritization of goals and objectives.

Second, we must truly believe that our staff are assets and not liabilities and invest our time, effort and resources accordingly. Everything we want to achieve in healthcare involves people. Nothing can get done successfully without them. If we want competent leaders, then we must invest in them as such. We must invest on a continuous basis in their education and training and mentoring and coaching if we expect them to develop the competency required for leadership. Wisdom and prudence demands that we do this so that our most valuable assets – our staff – are leading with up to date knowledge, skills and know-how rather than being ill equipped for the future and getting left behind.

Third, we must create a culture of inclusion which means everyone is part of the same big team. Our culture and belief system must entail the core belief that everyone has equal intrinsic value as human beings i.e, different roles with different responsibilities but all of equal value. This would then be exhibited in our team dynamics where every person in authority, every boss, would value and listen to input and not only allow feedback on ideas and decisions but highly encourage it from everyone. A culture that recruits, hires and trains its individuals of authority to listen and serve rather than direct and dictate i.e, humility. Individuals who intimately understand they do not know everything and are not expected to know everything and have true humility, will identify, value and listen to their informal leaders and use them as champions in a positive way for the betterment of the team, patients, community and organization.

An organization that creates a culture of leadership that exemplifies the Golden Rule; cares for and respects all staff; sees staff as assets and invests in them accordingly; values all individuals equally; is inclusive and listens; and where humility is an expectation of all positions of authority will best be able to assure there is consistent genuine leadership which has followers who both Trust and Like them, because they exhibit Competency and Compassion, Treat their staff as Assets and utilize both Formal and Informal leaders consistently for the good of all.

Connect with us on LinkedIn, join our Active Network Program and look at the other areas of connection we offer.

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Give yourself the gift of networking – how to network during the holidays

The holidays are the perfect time to reconnect with old friends and colleagues that you may not have spoken to in a long time. The season is full of celebrations and parties where you are in the presence of a lot of untapped potential. Potential to make a connection. Spark or rekindle a new or old friendship. Networking is all about finding connection points.

Finding that common ground that endears you to the other person and during the holidays, those connections come even easier with the added ingredients of warm fuzzies (eggnog anyone?) and a healthy dose of good cheer. So, when you are headed to the next holiday party, don’t groan and moan and count the hours until you can be home in front of the fire, look at it as an opportunity to widen your net and build up your network.

How to work a room:

  1. Don’t stand by the front door. When people first arrive to a meeting or party they are nervous and looking for a place to put their things or visit a bathroom. Standing by the door is a sure way to get overlooked.
  2. Spend only five minutes with each person you meet. This is long enough to listen to what makes them unique and for you to establish a connection within exchanged pleasantries. Get their business card and offer yours if asked in return.
  3. Make notes on their business cards. Anything that will help you remember that person when you look them up later is invaluable. There is no way you can keep everyone you meet straight and that one detail about that person could be what gets you that future meeting. It adds the personal touch.
  4. Follow-up. Think of how many times you given out your business card. Now think about how many times someone used that business card to reach out to you after the fact? Part of working a room successfully lies in the follow-up. Connect with the person on LinkedIn, shoot them a quick note telling them how nice it was to meet them and add the fun fact about them you jotted down on their business card.

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Happy Holidays from Wiederhold & Associates

In lieu of mailing holiday cards, and in keeping with the spirit of giving during this time of year, Wiederhold & Associates has made a donation to a charity in honor of our clients, network members and friends for being a part of our lives this year. For 2017, due to the amount of natural disasters the U.S. faced this year, we have selected the Salvation Army as the recipient of our donation.

The Salvation Army helped with all the hurricanes that hit the U.S. this year and are currently assisting in California with the wildfires. More information on their efforts can be found at Salvation Army news.

We at Wiederhold & Associates hope and pray that you enjoy a happy and safe holiday season. As you enter the New Year, never forget what is most important: your faith, your family, and your friends.

Jim Wiederhold and

The Wiederhold & Associates Team

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