Organizational Rhythm Holds Key to Long-Term Success

One of the reasons I love living in southern Wisconsin is because I get to experience the rhythm of the seasons. We live near Geneva Lake, one of the largest inland lakes in the state. We also are only about a mile from lush farm fields. Between the two, I get to experience the cycle of the seasons from both lake and farm. Lake visitors, planting, growing, harvesting and rest are all a big part of the year-long rhythm of life in these parts. So it goes with successful organizations as well. They develop a rhythm of success that seems to breed more success.

Getting into a rhythm of success takes several steps, and, most importantly, a solid team of people surrounding you. In today’s fast-pace healthcare environment, gaining rhythm is even harder than ever because of the flood of data and information that everyone receives daily on the job. It’s hard to sit back and contemplate what success looks like. In this article, I have identified five key aspects of what I believe it takes to get into an organizational rhythm, and maintaining it.

The first is being a leader. A team can’t establish and maintain a history of excellence without leadership. In many cases, this takes a willingness to take on risk – both personal and organizational – to achieve your vision for what you want the organization to be. It also may mean demonstrating leadership even if you don’t have all of the formal, delegated authority you think you need to move your agenda ahead. It’s hard to do, and is a real art, but nothing demonstrates leadership like results.

Having a clear vision of the future of your department and organization is next. Because healthcare is changing so rapidly, it is sometimes hard to find clarity of vision, but if you can find an end point and be flexible in how you achieve it, success is possible and leads to even more success. Leaders cast a clear vision for their organization, and help establish a road map to achieve it. That roadmap is critical to developing your rhythm, whether it is for a single department, or the whole organization.

Everyone talks about “teamwork” today, and it is becoming an over-used part of our management lexicon to the point of just being more jargon and noise. Rather, I like to foster an environment for staff growth that leads naturally to a sense of working as a team. This takes the development of trust between key staff members as well as willingness by leadership to try new ideas and look at new ways of doing things. To be successful at this, you also need to be willing to accept the occasional failure, and use it to foster growth. In healthcare today, many of our processes consist of decades-old steps that have simply been modified or bandaged to fit new realities. Being willing to break out of these molds and looking at things in an entirely new light is often a key to gaining – and maintaining organizational rhythm.

It is often difficult to do on a consistent basis, but having a consistent, positive attitude, and invoking it in your team is critical to long-term success. As a leader, you probably desire to get your team viewed as “indispensable” by your organization. In healthcare, we all want our overall organization to be viewed as indispensable to the health and well-being of the communities that we serve. Therefore, the whole rhythm of your organization requires that each piece of it have a rhythm that is in synch with the rest. You need to recognize the needs of every part of your organization and meet them completely, all the time.

Finally, having a full understanding of the ongoing needs of your individual department, as well as your total organization is critical to building successful rhythm. This understanding allows you to build your departmental strategy to serve the needs of your total organization. In critical areas such as supply chain, you can’t do your best, and provide the best outcomes and service without knowing the overall strategy of your organization, developing plans to service those needs, and demonstrating ongoing, consistent success. Again, this requires leadership.

Unfortunately, in today’s world most of us have a need for “something new,” or a “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” mentality. Developing a consistent, quality rhythm is critical to your long-term success as a leader and to keep your organization in its leadership role, as well. It fills in the gap for both something new, and your latest results. Successful organizations develop rhythm in their individual parts that are in synch with the rhythm of the total organization.

Large, family-owned farms are the norm here in southern Wisconsin. Even though our local farmers now have GPS-guided tractors and combines, computer-assisted seed planters and access to the latest meteorological information on the web, there’s a constant around here. You see farmers in their fields, examining the crops, feeling the soil and looking toward the sky. They are finding their rhythm – the rhythm of the seasons. Once you find your rhythm, you need to stay close to it, just like a farmer nurturing his crops.

John Strong is a healthcare supply chain consultant and board member of a number of healthcare organizations. He was the founding President and CEO of Consorta, a GPO serving more than 350 hospitals.

This entry was posted in As I See It, News. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.