Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Burning Questions, Part III

We continue again this week with my answers to the questions posed by leaders from across CHRISTUS Health at our recent leadership retreat.

Q. How would you succinctly define quality care?

A. In concise terms, I think a quality outcome has four metrics:
1. Morbidity and mortality
2. Functional status
3. Patient satisfaction
4. Adherence to best practices and evidenced –based clinical protocols

Q. I know you said if you had it to do over, you would do it all over again. But is there one thing that you might change?

A. Yes.I would have been a pediatric specialist instead of a general surgeon. When I was training they did not have pediatric specialty residencies, and I did not think I would be challenged enough as a general pediatrician. As a general surgeon in the early years, before there were pediatric surgeons, I operated also on children. I love all patients, but have a special place in my heart for children.

Q. What is the one thing that can minimize the toxic side-effects of change you talk about?

A. Besides identifying the potential toxic sides effects, I would say there are two keys to implementing long-term change:
1. Providing clear rationale of why the change is necessary
2. Breaking the change down into doable chunks. Sudden and overwhelming change can, as we have experienced, trigger fundamental survival instincts and build strong resistance. Effective leaders recognize this and move quickly to help followers regain a sense of balance and equilibrium.

Q. You are saying on your recent visits to the regions and business units that if CHRISTUS Health is going to reach excellence, the leaders need to feel “called” and then be able to do transformational work. What is your definition of transformational leadership?

A. When describing transformational leadership, I use the 8 steps outlined in the January 2007 edition of the Harvard Business Review. They are:
l. Establish a sense of urgency
2. Form a powerful guiding coalition
3. Create a clear vision
4. Communicate the vision
5. Empowers others to act on the vision
6. Plan and create short-term wins
7. Consolidate the improvements, often creating more change
8. Institutionalize the new approaches

Q. What is the one major obstacle standing in the way of obtaining excellence?

A. Not dealing with the people who are satisfied with “good.”

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