The Cultural Toolbox
This past year, my book Heroes Need Not Apply, “How to build a patient-accountable culture without putting more on your plate,” hit the shelves. It’s the story of how a small town physician from Montana teamed with a CEO to transform the culture of a large Seattle hospital. The book shows how focusing on what matters most to patients and, the right mind-set and a common direction can bring two people together to ignite an entire organization.
Like any book, especially one designed to create a specific paradigm shift, there are always back stories and deeper conversations readers would love to hear. When I speak with my audience and they share what parts of the book affected them, most people ask me questions about the characters, their motivations and what tools characters Dr. Jack Martin and CEO Jane Carolli count on to spread cultural change throughout the fictional hospital, “Angels of Seattle.”
Which led me to begin a series of Coach+Leaders to share some of my tools and findings by using the characters of my book to give you a glimpse ahead by looking back. I’ll share a few excerpts from the book in the following weeks, and some of the conversations you didn’t hear…
Let’s begin with what many an organizational leader has asked me:
Q: From reading your book, I know where I want our culture to go, but where do I begin? What should we build our culture around?
A: We have to build our cultures around what matters most to our patients… patient accountable cultures. But before we do that, we need to provide our staffs with a common direction to become more patient-centered.
Early in my book, Dr. Jack Martin and CEO Jane Carolli were having some of their first conversations defining how Jane needs to show up as a leader to move the process forward and engage her management staff. Part of their conversation included Jack saying,
“What do you think when I say your role as a coach is or should be, a primary leadership competency... it should be the foundation for how you lead?”
“Jack, you’re saying that coaching is the most important thing I can do?”
“Yes Jane, and if we all want to truly be patient-centered... to build patient-centered relationships, we have to be coaches, and teach others to do the same. In Billings, things changed when my boss started coaching his leadership team, and eventually his medical staff.”
At this point, Dr. Martin and Jane Carolli began the first phase of their eventual transformation that clearly began with the two of them. Jane accepted the process, but she also wanted to know a little about the big picture… where would it go next. What you didn’t hear were Jane’s big picture questions about moving forward…
“Jack, knowing that this starts with the two of us, how is this going to move forward with the entire medical staff?”
Jack replied, “Jane, we really have to begin with our small nucleus and gain engagement slowly… but that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for what’s coming around the corner. We certainly don't just need more data Jane, we need more context. All the changes we’re working on and have talked about are relational, not operational. If we focus on the handful of actions and behaviors that matter most to patients, we"ll be in a better position to do more than merely meet the needs of patients, we’ll have to opportunity become a true patient-centered organization.”
Jane shot back, “That’s a no-brainer Jack, I can list those behaviors and actions in a heartbeat.”
“And I’m sure you’d come close. But we need to go right to the source with an assessment tool. We need to hear from everyone and not just once. We need a tool specifically aimed toward building a patient-accountable culture… and one that continually measures our progress.”
“That sound great, but where do we start? What kind of questions do we need to ask?”
Jack settled back in his chair, “Questions specific to our goal.”
"Don't we want a culture that makes patients safer, a culture produces clinical quality, a culture that supports coordination of care, a culture that offers respect to everyone?"
Jane smiled, “Sounds like the right place to start Jack.”
Our next coach leader will go further into the book and deeper into their discussion to share the insights that drive organizations to become more patient-centered. With Jack’s guidance, Jane will see how to measure and design a culture around what matters most to patients.
Is your culture aligned to what matters most to patients?...