Jim Collins: Leading in Times of Turbulence

Jim CollinsIf there’s one person whose name is synonymous with the term “high-performance organization,” it’s Jim Collins. I am excited to have this award-winning business and management thinker join us for the 2015 Healthcare Analytics Summit. After all, his speech is entitled “Greatness in Turbulent Times,” and we all can agree that the healthcare industry is facing turbulent times.

Clinicians have been impacted by the changes happening in healthcare—and not always for the better. The transformation has caused many to experience a shift in autonomy and, sometimes changes in income and social stature.

The move to value-based care and the pressure to improve quality while providing better care has left clinicians feeling overwhelmed and ill equipped in managing risk-based payment models. They are also uncertain as to how their behavior contributes to healthcare waste and inefficiency.

Engaging physicians, nurses, and staff in improvement efforts is not optional; it ensures improvements become sustainable and improvement becomes a part of the culture. However, getting that engagement is tricky. Knowing what motivates people to engage (and what doesn’t) will set apart the merely good healthcare organization leaders from the great leaders.

But what distinguishes the great leaders from the merely good? How do they react when hit by unforeseen events that are impossible to control? What distinguishes those who perform exceptionally well from those who don’t?

To get at the answers to those questions, Collins and his team embarked upon an ambitious journey to identify and study a select group of companies that had that started from a position of vulnerability, rose to become great companies with spectacular performance, and did so in unstable environments characterized by big forces, out of their control, fast-moving, uncertain, and potentially harmful.

They didn’t thrive on chaos. They thrived in chaos.

Collins’s team labeled the high-performing study cases with the moniker “10X” because they didn’t merely get by or just become successful. They truly thrived. Every 10X case beat its industry index by at least 10 times.

Why did the 10X companies achieve such spectacular results, especially when companies operating in the same fast-moving, unpredictable, and tumultuous environments — did not? Part of the answer lies in the distinctive behaviors of their leaders, their ability to accept responsibility for their own fate, reject the idea that forces outside their control or chance events will determine their results, and to keep marching ahead…20 miles at a time.

Collins, who started his research on the faculty at Stanford Graduate School of Business, has spent the past 25 years trying to understand how some companies are able to sustain superlative performance and the leadership qualities that drive such performance. In that pursuit, he has authored or co-authored six books, including Good to Great, Built to Last, and Great By Choice.

Explaining his research on how to build a culture of engaged leaders in an October 2013 Inc. Magazine article entitled “The Re-Education of Jim Collins,” Collins told interviewer Bo Burlingham, “You need to spend time thinking about three things:

  • Service to ‘a cause or purpose we are passionately dedicated to and are willing to suffer and sacrifice for.’
  • Challenge and growth, or, ‘What huge and audacious challenges should we give people that will push them hard and make them grow?’
  • Communal success, or, ‘What can we do to reinforce the idea that we succeed only by helping each other?’”

The only certainty in today’s healthcare industry is change. None of us can predict with certainty the direction our lives will take. Life is uncertain, the future unknown.

During his keynote in September, Collins will share the timeless fundamentals that enable organizations to not only survive, but also thrive in this era of transformation. You will learn what those organizations do to keep their teams engaged, motivated, and moving forward to enable long-term, appreciative change especially in these turbulent times.

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