Archive for November, 2010
From one inspiring book to another! Finzel’s Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make was a great foundation for a series of blogs. Now we move to the subject of women inspiring and advising women, with Mary E. Stutts’ The Missing Mentor. Mary Stutts had an impressive healthcare background, with experience at Kaiser Permanente and then Bayer Pharmaceuticals. Having grown her department from 16 employees (and a $14M budget) to 43 (and $100M budget), Mary was ready for the next career leadership level.
The one thing missing? A mentor to help her navigate new cultures. Then she met two very smart and powerful women at Genentech who became friends and nurturers. Since then, Mary has risen to senior positions at UnitedHealth Group, and Elan, a global drug and biotechnology company looking for neurological therapies for diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. She uses her own example and the example of other women throughout her book to help readers “thrive on the concepts of life-long learning and total self-reinvention.” We not only applaud her, but add our own stories that we hope help inspire you to become the person you dream of being—something we touted in our very first blog back in March.
The Missing Mentor is about women helping women. Mary Stutts’ stories are about her professional journey, along which she asked herself many questions. You may be asking yourself the same ones. We certainly recognized many we asked ourselves when launching Derry, Nolan & Associates nearly eight years ago:
- Can we really do this?
- What if we fail?
- Are we too small?
Today – there are still questions, but wow – have they changed in tone! Now it’s:
- What’s our next move?
- How can we help smaller clinics take advantage of healthcare reform?
- How do we best transition Derry, Nolan & Associates to new talent when we’re ready to retire?
We hope you enjoy this next series of blogs, as we share Mary’s stories, and our own, of mentorship. Women who crave advice from other women in leadership and ownership positions will discover some jewels over the course of the next few weeks.
Our last blog entry talked about how healthcare needs innovative, flexible leadership. Leadership that recognizes the need for eliminating waste in processes, looks for revenue increasing opportunities and has marketing acumen to promote their service and care providers. In this series, you’ll hear about our own stories (that we hope help you!) with topics like: “Confidence is Power – Using it or Losing It,” “Managing Power,” “Work and Life – Finding Your Balance!” and “Connecting and Achieving.”
And guys, you too will find “golden nuggets” in these women-centered stories. The goal is to inspire you – help you further your goals for professional success, no matter what forms they may take!
As we wind up our blogs related to Hans Finzel’s “The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make,” it’s only fitting we focus on Vision. Of all the mistakes leaders need to avoid, ignoring the future to focus on the past is the worst. Healthcare leaders must face the future boldly to remain competitive and relevant to their market. They need to embrace the often difficult measures that will allow their healthcare organizations and medical practices to remain relevant and compliant. It's difficult, especially with the rapid changes in regulations — how to keep up?
It seems like the best efforts are always a step behind.
For instance, think of technology – how the hottest product at the holidays is the result of years of research and design, yet is outdated nearly as quickly as it peaks. In healthcare, too, technology is quickly outdated: robotics, pharmacology, equipment and the ever-evolving electronic health record (EHR). Every medical management conference is rife with EHR vendors, each bragging that theirs has the latest bells and whistles, and is most easily integrated.
Most clinics still drown in paper. We come through the doors to be greeted with a sea of paper records, charts, forms and the ubiquitous sticky notes. With all the choices in systems, many physician groups cling to the hope that the ultimate system will miraculously appear, changing harried, disorganized staff to smiling, satisfied ones. Remember resisting DVDs over VHS? Laptops over desktops? It’s the same in our overly expensive and wasteful healthcare systems – we cannot afford to do resist change simply for the sake of politics, of waiting for the “perfect solution.”
Paper to electronic records is just one example of the waste we face in clinics and other healthcare organizations. Derry, Nolan & Associates set out nearly eight years ago to reduce that type of waste within our scope of influence: waste of labor resources, space, motion, inventory – time (and time IS money!). Our main goal is to make a difference, leaving our clients as more productive, having goals aligned with responsibilities, seeing satisfaction for provider, staff and patient become reality.
It is an evolving process, no doubt.
The many changes healthcare providers face requires a new generation of “dreamers” to reinvent the industry. For instance, eventually our U.S. healthcare system will be streamlined because, as the drivers of Healthcare Reform argue (and we agree), doing nothing will bankrupt our economy if action isn’t taken quickly. It will take strong leaders, with Vision.
Notable leaders, like Dr. Donald Berwick of the Center for Medicare/Medicaid, show an exceptional willingness to push themselves out of their own comfort zones. For example, he’s touting the need for a total overhaul of our healthcare delivery system. With the Republican Party holding the majority of House seats, it will be interesting over the next months to watch the ping-pong game, the volleys of Healthcare Reform served by each Party, and how the President uses his veto power.
We recognize that it’s natural for people to resist change. Barbara and I, as change agents, see this all the time. For our part in eliminating waste in the healthcare system, we focus on one clinic and physician practice at time. How lucky are we? We get paid to be dreamers, and to realize the results, helping our healthcare clients achieve those dreams! We consider it a privilege to help lead our clients’ organizations into the future – to assist leaders, help them devote focus to goals and strategies, to ask the Vision questions: Where are we going next? How will we get there?
“My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.” — Charles F. Kettering
Derry, Nolan & Associates’ healthcare and medical practice consultants can help your healthcare organization – medical practice, ASC, clinic or integrated healthcare system – with waste reduction, compliance, leadership recruitment, interim management, on-boarding and customer service training. Check out our complete list of services.
Talented leadership is a must for any successful organization (remember that when you vote on November 2nd!). Healthcare organizations especially need that leadership talent if they are to navigate the labyrinth of regulations, financial challenges and human resource issues that pop up every day. Hans Finzel recommends that as a leader, you should begin to plan for your departure the day you start a job, giving yourself time to find the talent that will replace you.
Unfortunately, many leaders don’t take this step until well into their tenure at an organization, if they ever do. Why is that? Impediments to grooming a successor can include fear of retirement, comfort, love of the job, or strangely enough, lack of confidence. According to Lyle Schaller, “leaders who stay too long do much more damage than those who don’t stay long enough.” Food for thought. However, finishing well is an important measure of successful leadership – and those who mine talent are commendable.
Barbara and I are fortunate. As consultants, such barriers don’t exist. The project-based nature of our work naturally sets time limits, which gives us a distinct advantage: the ability to find diamonds in the rough, the prospective leaders to groom for the client’s organization. Particularly exciting to work with are the Generation X-ers, a workforce that brings a whole new value set to the table.
We notice, and healthcare leaders should too, that employees born after 1975 share certain traits. Gen X-ers tend to make up the staff majority, and knowing some of these traits has helped us better motivate for workflow redesign as well as implement sustainable change post implementation. Gen X-ers commonly:
- Focus in micro-story, not the macro story. The influence of Facebook, YouTube, MySpace shows in how well they work in small teams.
- Expect meaningful engagement for their time – they bore easily.
- Function best with flat, fluid leadership. Don’t try dogmatic, dictatorial leadership from “on high” – it doesn’t fly with 30-somethings.
- Admire thinkers, not builders who build for the sake of building. They need to know why things are done a certain way.
- Long for a sense of belonging. Immediate online interaction with their close knit friends (texting, IM) and phone conversation has built the “sharing” instinct. They tend to exploit information among their group(s).
We notice these traits coalesce really well in brainstorming and getting buy-in for changes. Gone (thankfully) are the days of older, stale mantras, “…because that’s just the way we do it” or “company policy” and “don’t rock the boat!” In fact, looking back to our early years in the medical field, Barbara and I realize that we weren’t considered for planning committees or the like until our early thirties!
Gen X-ers bring fresh eyes, creativity, attention to detail (all those video games are useful), risk- taking behavior (not interested in the gold watch scenario), and less adversity to change. Exploit this talent for your future leaders! Mentor the staff that demonstrate these traits and display potential for leadership. Look for qualities we discussed in the prior eight blogs: clear communication, ability to work side-by-side with others, accountable delegation, and promotion of a culture of trust and openness.
Great leaders take on a great task when they endeavor to choose a replacement that will not only pick up where they leave off, but build on the foundation, taking it further. Leaving it until the last year of your tenure won’t work – mentoring is an ongoing process.
“There is no greater satisfaction than mentoring others to continue to look for ways to constantly improve inefficient processes that plague our healthcare industry.” – Crystal Nolan