Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Does CHRISTUS Health Possess Some of “The Secrets of Enduring Greatness”?

Built on the foundation laid by three Sisters more than 140 years ago, CHRISTUS Health has, for nearly a decade, been intensely focused on a Journey to Excellence, striving to create a future that will be sustainable and value-added for all the people we serve. Driven by our mission, vision and values, we have utilized a balanced scorecard approach, striving for the best performance possible in our four Directions to Excellence, Advocacy and Philanthropy.

During the nearly 10 years since the combining of the Sisters of Charity and Incarnate Word Health Systems, CHRISTUS Health has grown its assets from $33 billion to $44 billion and its operating revenue from $1.9 billion to $ 3.0 billion, improving significantly our clinical quality and service delivery metrics, while maintaining our ministry’s leadership position on providing charity care to the most vulnerable.

Clearly, CHRISTUS Health, like all health care delivery systems in the U.S., has business literacy challenges, enhanced recently by the volatility in the bond market and the growing numbers of uninsured. As the FY09 budget is reviewed, supporting a year of intense operational focus with only selective growth to further enhance our one-third, one-third, one-third strategies, perhaps it would be worthwhile pausing to read and reflect on an article I found helpful.

Written by Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great several years ago, the article, entitled "The Secret of Enduring Greatness,” reviews the characteristics of companies which have eventually succeeded in sustaining greatness. Utilizing case studies, the article specifically reviews four types of organizations:
• Companies that were once great who are no longer in existence;
• Companies that fell from greatness but then regained their footing, standing defiant against the forces of creative destruction;
• Companies who have enduring greatness;
• Companies that overcame oppressive mediocrity or worse to achieve sustained success.

The learnings from these case studies, although few, are critical for sustained success:
• The cause of failure cannot simply be attributed entirely to change in the environment;
• Success, to a large degree, depends on what you do to yourself;
• Throughout history, the greatest companies have used adverse times to their advantage;
• A great company never surrenders to the forces of mediocrity and succumbs to irrelevance;
• Great companies are built on values and a purpose beyond making money, building a culture that makes a distinctive contribution while striving to deliver exceptional results.

The call of Bishop Dubuis to CHRISTUS Health is as strong today as it was to those first three Sisters 140 years ago. There is still a multitude of sick and infirm of every kind who seeks relief at our hands. Our Journey to Excellence must be our continuing focus, utilizing consistently our balanced scorecard seeking improvement in all four Directions to Excellence simultaneously. We must continue, through our three-year strategic plan, future planning processes to evolve CHRISTUS Health into a delivery system that cannot only make sick people healthy, but promotes wellness and end-of-life care. The further growth and enhancement of our one-third acute, one-third non-acute, and one-third international strategy, driven by the significant decline of traditional reimbursement, the rapid introduction of non-invasive technologies and the positive aging of seniors with increasing life expectancies appears to be critical in creating a value-added future, rather than one of irrelevance.

This article clearly demonstrates that the CHRISTUS Health ministry, like all for-profit and not-for-profit companies, is on a continuous journey. But, more importantly, it does give us the ability to say we do share some of the secrets of enduring success.

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