Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A rainbow in the clouds

In prior blog posts and in multiple communications recently transmitted throughout CHRISTUS, we have indicated that we have begun our second decade amidst an almost perfect storm, which is being experienced as a widespread economic crisis both in the U.S. and throughout the world.

It is also true that like with many storms, there is a rainbow appearing amidst the clouds.

What are the positives that we might gain from looking at these challenging times as possible opportunities that will occur only once or twice in one’s professional lifetime?

The economic crisis is so widespread and so large that it touches the lives of almost everyone who is a part of the CHRISTUS family, whether they are a physician, Associate or volunteer. Based on what they are seeing as responses to this crisis from other industries, i.e., layoffs, benefit reductions and other expense controls, they have created a readiness in their own minds to not only expect but accept similar changes that might occur while on the CHRISTUS Journey to Excellence.

In reality, there is an openness to change which could not readily be created at times when all parts of the industry are going well and moving in positive directions. Resistance to change is the major barrier for preventing good companies from becoming great, and therefore it only seems appropriate that although we never enjoy the circumstances, taking advantage of this openness to change which has resulted during these stormy times may create a competitive advantage for CHRISTUS Health.

Secondly, although health care has been significantly affected during this recession/depression as it has in the past, it has not been as severely affected as most other industries. Because of the significant number of layoffs occurring and because health care is relatively recession-proof in the long term, we are seeing a significant increase in the applications to nursing schools and to colleges and universities that provide degrees in health care administration. This would seem to indicate that after several years, we will have an influx of graduates to quickly fill the many vacancies that are currently present in the health care industry.

And finally, as we discovered from our Futures Task Force II learning journeys, to remain competitive and sustainable for the long-term, CHRISTUS must evolve to become the highest clinical and service quality provider with the lowest cost structure. The actions which we must undertake to accomplish this necessary transformation could never occur to a significant degree when cash is flowing and profits are large. For such changes to be hardwired into an organization, the organization itself must be facing challenges which heretofore have never been experienced.

Although we would all be much happier if the storm was less severe and perhaps was much shorter in duration, we must also ask ourselves if indeed this storm is providing us with strategic opportunities and transitional momentum which could not occur if the weather was calm and the sun was bright.

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