Listening Is a Lost Art in Medicine. Here’s How to Rediscover It

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Aaron Tilley/Getty Images

William Osler, often called the father of modern medicine, famously advised his students: “Just listen to your patient; he is telling you the diagnosis.” A century later, clinicians and health system leaders started tuning out the patient’s voice, turning instead to electronic health records and the latest care protocols to manage their most complicated and high-need patients. We believe it’s time for an urgent and strategic reset. The factors that lead people to become our nation’s costliest are complex. But they call for, at the start, the simplest intervention: listening.

According to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), “High-need individuals are disproportionately older, female, white, and less educated. They are also more likely to be publicly insured, have fair-to-poor self-reported health, and be susceptible to lack of coordination within the health care system.” Overall, these patients make up just 5% of the patient population, but

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The Best Companies Know How to Balance Strategy and Purpose

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Skeezer/Getty Images

Most companies have articulated their purpose — the reason they exist. But very few have made that purpose a reality for their organizations.

Consider Nokia. Before the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, Nokia was the dominant mobile phone maker with a clearly stated purpose — “Connecting people” — and an aggressive strategy for sustaining market dominance. Seeking to extend its technological edge (particularly in miniaturization), it acquired more than 100 startup companies while pursuing a vast portfolio of research and product development projects. In 2006 alone, Nokia introduced 39 new mobile-device models. Few imagined that this juggernaut, brandishing vast resources with such steely determination, could be quickly brought down.

In retrospect, it seems inevitable. Nokia was so immersed in executing its strategy that it lost sight of its purpose. When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone as “a leapfrog product that is way smarter than any mobile device has

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Stop Using the Excuse “Organizational Change Is Hard”

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During nearly every discussion about organizational change, someone makes the obvious assertion that “change is hard.” On the surface, this is true: change requires effort. But the problem with this attitude, which permeates all levels of our organizations, is that it equates “hard” with “failure,” and, by doing so, it hobbles our change initiatives, which have higher success rates than we lead ourselves to believe. Our biases toward failure is wired into our brains. In a recently published series of studies, University of Chicago researchers Ed O’Brien and Nadav Klein found that we assume that failure is a more likely outcome than success, and, as a result, we wrongly treat successful outcomes as flukes and bad results as irrefutable proof that change is difficult. For example, when participants in one of the studies were presented with a season’s worth of statistics for a star athlete who had logged worse numbers than
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Nike’s Co-founder on Innovation, Culture, and Succession

Phil Knight, former chair and CEO of Nike, tells the story of starting the sports apparel and equipment giant after taking an entrepreneurship class at Stanford and teaming up with his former track coach, Bill Bowerman. Together (and with the help of a waffle iron) they changed how running shoes are designed and made. Knight discusses the company’s enduring culture of innovation, as well as the succession process that led to former runner and Nike insider Mark Parker becoming CEO. Download this podcast

Why Your Company Culture Should Match Your Brand

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Ask people how to develop a good corporate culture, and most of them will immediately suggest offering generous employee benefits, like they do at Starbucks, or letting people dress casually, as Southwest Airlines does. Rarely do people point to encouraging employees to disagree with their managers, as Amazon does, or firing top performers, as Jack Welch did at GE. But in fact, it’s having a distinct corporate culture — not a copycat of another firm’s culture — that allows these great organizations to produce phenomenal results. Each of these companies has aligned and integrated its culture and brand to create a powerful engine of competitive advantage and growth. Their leaders understand that a strong, differentiated company culture contributes to a strong, differentiated brand — and that an extraordinary brand can support and advance an extraordinary culture. It doesn’t matter if your company culture is friendly or competitive, nurturing or analytical. If your culture
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When Health Care Providers Look at Problems from Multiple Perspectives, Patients Benefit

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Mr. Smith was ready to be discharged home after his laryngectomy, an extensive operation that removes a patient’s throat due to cancer. In the opinion of Dr. Lu-Myers, he was a capable man who had passed his physical and occupational therapy evaluations with flying colors. Mr. Smith had fulfilled the doctor’s list of clinical discharge criteria, and she was eager to send him home. She planned to entrust him and his family to manage his dressing changes, as well as his tracheostomy and drain care, with the support of frequent outpatient nursing visits — all very routine protocol, especially for someone who seemed alert and capable. The day before Mr. Smith was to be discharged, Dolores, his nurse, approached Dr. Lu-Myers with some concerns: “Mr. Smith seems depressed to me, and you know, his wife has never come by to visit. I’m worried about us discharging him.” Dolores explained that Mr. Smith was
Continue reading "When Health Care Providers Look at Problems from Multiple Perspectives, Patients Benefit"

When Health Care Providers Look at Problems from Multiple Perspectives, Patients Benefit

jun17-13-34948064
Mr. Smith was ready to be discharged home after his laryngectomy, an extensive operation that removes a patient’s throat due to cancer. In the opinion of Dr. Lu-Myers, he was a capable man who had passed his physical and occupational therapy evaluations with flying colors. Mr. Smith had fulfilled the doctor’s list of clinical discharge criteria, and she was eager to send him home. She planned to entrust him and his family to manage his dressing changes, as well as his tracheostomy and drain care, with the support of frequent outpatient nursing visits — all very routine protocol, especially for someone who seemed alert and capable. The day before Mr. Smith was to be discharged, Dolores, his nurse, approached Dr. Lu-Myers with some concerns: “Mr. Smith seems depressed to me, and you know, his wife has never come by to visit. I’m worried about us discharging him.” Dolores explained that Mr. Smith was
Continue reading "When Health Care Providers Look at Problems from Multiple Perspectives, Patients Benefit"