CEO Coaching: Fix It!

Some recent interaction with a large medical provider left me with appreciation for great care, but also questions around their operating practices (e.g., scheduling and follow up calls). Questions like, “Why don’t they fix this?” (You and I know the answer; it’s not a priority!)

If I had several glitches in service, imagine how many other patients have had the same experience. How many lost hours for the staff? How many back-and-forth phone calls wasted? Perhaps I won’t turn to a competitor next time, but some will. 

It’s a basic example but highlights the challenges of small system breaks that might have large consequences. Medical organizations are in the business of saving and improving lives but are often inefficient from an operational perspective. How often have you been in a medical office or hospital and thought, I could fix that in a heartbeat!? Operational efficiency and good care don’t have to be mutually exclusive. My brother shared a Mayo Clinic experience from several years ago about how on top of details they were; surprisingly so. Appointments with multiple providers sequenced correctly and coordinated on his behalf, clear communication, and genuine concern. I’ve also had several knee surgeries in privately owned surgery centers where the trains ran mostly on time and everything was buttoned up, so it can be done. 

Though perhaps you can’t claim to save lives, you too have big things you are driving toward. You cannot tend to everything at once; you must have priorities; however, you should also look for the broken stuff and consciously decide whether or not to fix it. (Phillip Crosby wrote a book decades ago called, “Quality Is Free” with the radical thought that doing things right the first time eliminates the expense of do overs.) 

Somewhere (actually lots of somewheres) in your organization, you’re irritating customers or wasting resources. Do you have a vehicle to catch these (e.g., operational audits; customer feedback mechanisms; or perhaps, more important, empowered employees who just fix stuff)? Often, the fix will quickly pay financial dividends. 

I love to talk about the big, deep ideas of business. As Sun Tzu said in “The Art of War”: “Tactics before strategy is the noise before defeat.” But sometimes to grow or improve your bottom line you just have to fix shit!

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