Is Being Good, Good Enough in Health Care?

Every year or so I re-read a book that has greatly influenced much of my business thinking: Jim Collins’ GOOD TO GREAT: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … And Others Don’t  

And when I re-read the book, Collins seems to be getting smarter. I see the relevance of what he discusses to the everyday work within a hospital

But I also see the applicability of the Good to Great principles in organizations working within social sectors, such as non-profit organizations, as opposed to organizations working in the for-profit arena. 

Health care systems and hospitals are both big businesses as well as social organizations.

Health care systems certainly have important business functions similar to other sectors and need for business revenue stream to maintain sustainability (“no margin, no mission”). 

The difference is that we in health care function within a social sphere where greatness is harder to define.

In hospitals some specific areas of emphasis are essential to consider.

  • How do you define a great hospital? 
  • How does leadership drive a hospital to achieve greatness within an organizational structure that is more diffuse than most companies? 
  • How do you get the right people on your teams and “in the right seats on the bus” in a hospital setting where technical competence is critical? 
  • How do you rethink the economic engine of a hospital without a profit motive?
  • How do you build momentum by building success?

How do these apply to each of us working within an academic health science center, clinic, and hospital, whether we are rank and file employees, physicians, administrators or leadership?

We might all go through the exercise of what constitutes being good versus being great.

  • Do you want to be great or is “good, good enough?” Do you want Henry Ford Hospital and Medical Group to be great or is “good, good enough?”
  • How can you use influence to achieve higher levels of performance without direct authority? 
  • Are you on the “right seat on the bus?” Are you being used to maximize the greatest impact of your abilities, both professionally and from a leadership perspective?  Do you try to influence others to get on the right seat? 
  • How do you develop a relentless, passionate focus on what you can be the best in the world? 

At Henry Ford Hospital, I see greatest all around us. I also believe that we are on the cusp of stepping to a different level of sustainable highest level performance. 

Our goal over the next several years is to use many of the principles of Good to Great – lead, get everyone on the right seat on the bus, focus, confront the brutal facts, disciplined thought and action – to achieve greatness throughout our programs and organization, and to sustain that for the generations following us.

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