Over the past 2 years I have traveled the country visiting universities, health systems, and attending conferences in search of those places where leaders are addressing the hard conversations. These conversations center around toxic work cultures, burnout, leadership issues, and failing systems. I have been searching for solutions that create high performing organizations and the tactics healthcare leaders can use to create them. In all these places I have been driving the discussions to encourage present day leaders to push past the current thinking which maintains and fosters the ‘status quo’.
This search has been fueled by the burning notion that healthcare is evolving into something else. The lack of awareness on the part of health systems to the entrance of global retail giants like Amazon, Google, and Apple is frightening. The incumbent players in healthcare are about to experience a disruption similar to that of Airbnb to hotels, Lyft to Taxis, and Facebook to media. Yet in my travels, people healthcare professionals and especially leaders, seem pleasantly unaware. The possibility of entire professions being shifted and redefined is completely possible, yet health leaders are not preparing fast enough.
You may think that preparing for a disrupted future means you need to learn how to code AI algorithms, adopt digital health into every facet, and hire the brightest tech minds on earth. While this could help, it’s not necessary. In fact, the best thing an organization, leaders, and professions can do to prepare is to build cultures that allow for rapid adaptation and high performance while eliminating the toxic cultures that thrive in times of stress. In the fall of 2019, we will be publishing the Second Edition of Leadership for Evidence Based Innovation. In this edition we are, without hesitation, addressing the hard stuff that no other text has done or attempted to do. Among these topics we discuss: toxic leadership, the differences between innovation and performance improvement, as well as the gaps in our health and education systems. Here are a few comments on why these conversations and content are so important to the future of healthcare.
Toxic Work Cultures and Leadership
Toxic work cultures have been linked to the disengagement of up to 68% of employees within an organization. That means two-thirds of your entire workforce is giving less than their best simply because leadership does not address toxic behavior in themselves or their teams. In addition, toxic organizational cultures have been shown to increase patient mortality. This is as serious an issue as patient falls and hospital-acquired infection, however, very few organizations have any notion toxicity is even present in their system.
Leading Performance Improvement and Innovation together
High-performing systems need two competencies to operate and thrive. They need improvement and innovation. Innovation brings in new ways of thinking and working, while improvement optimizes them. When optimization reaches its highest point, innovation is needed to leapfrog to the next level. The problem in most healthcare systems is that leaders usually live in one camp or the other. Leaders ready for a disrupted future thoroughly understand improvement and innovation processes and understand when to deploy those skills sets to solve complex problems. Too many organizations see these as very separate teams and models without understanding the power of connecting them together.
Understanding the disrupted future
While no one really knows what the new healthcare entrants will disrupt first, we can make educated assumptions and begin to prepare. In the upcoming Second Edition of our text, we added a chapter that explores that possibilities of where these disruptions might occur and how the existing system might be impacted.
The consequences of not addressing these issues now will lead to blockbuster moments for many. We will stay our current course and eventually wake up to a system that no longer needs our services, profession or product. We wrote this text, “Leadership for Evidence Based Innovation” because we knew traditional management and leadership books would adhere to the status quo. Our book calls out the hard stuff so that students, leaders, and health systems can prepare to act instead of react. We hope these new additions will help you build high-performing cultures and create leaders who will recognize and eradicate toxicity, lead amazing teams, and create our collective future!