In over 20 years of medical practice and management, I have come to believe that wise organizations exist first for the benefit of their customers and second to provide environments that allow for both the personal and professional development of their employees.
Wise organizations must also have the ability to successfully adapt over generations and be able to extend their nurturing environments into the communities within which they reside. My goal as a manager is to cultivate wisdom in an organization. To cultivate wisdom I focus on the three key areas of finance, employee behavior, and customer service.
Finance is the most important area as it is the money that provides the energy for the organization. Wise organizations must follow a strategy that results in the creation of an increasing amount of money for investment. Organizations then must have leaders who provide proper sponsorship skills by creating an environment for the correct design, testing, implementation, and diffusion of innovation within organizations. Initially this is best accomplished by internally focusing on the elimination of waste coming from inefficient systems, inappropriate application of technology and treatments, variation of practice, delayed and missed diagnosis, waits and delays, lack of appropriate prevention, and wasteful quality systems. As money is created it can be reinvested in improved service and quality. After service and quality have improved money can be used to explore new revenue opportunities.
Employee behavior is the next most important area of focus as it is the engine that does the work of the organization. Wise organizations need to develop a culture that nurtures and energizes their employees with accountability, recognition, responsibility, and an appropriate work environment. In addition, organizations must have leaders who are skilled at developing proper culture, facilitating team achievement, and developing systems that support employees. Employees should not only look forward to work and have an opportunity to grow professionally and personally over time, but have enough energy left over for individual and family wellness.
The customer, the last area of focus, provides the raw materials and the guidance for the energy and the engine respectively required by the organization. Wise organizations need to become customer driven despite the fact that the customer is not represented in the organization. Leaders must not only possess knowledge and skills in regard to service, but have the process skills to assist others in the organization to achieve outstanding service. The organization must meet the needs of customers by diagnosing and treating disease and using appropriate preventive services to achieve health in populations. The wise medical organization thus becomes a well tuned, perpetual motion engine meeting the needs of a growing community of people.
I used this philosophy in planning, opening, and guiding the Rancho Cordova Medical Office Building as Physician in Charge over a 7-year period. I was overwhelmed by the energy, creativity, and success the multispecialty clinic with over 300 employees achieved. I considered myself a coach who catalyzed successful change by forging a team with the mission of “excellent care, outstanding service, and matchless cost management.”