One maxim I’ve always tried to follow, whether in my professional or personal life, is to take pride in yesterday’s accomplishments but always keep an eye on tomorrow.
If you’re inclined to look back at yesterday, try to think about what it means for the future. How do you enhance what you do? Continue to change? Do better? Past successes mean expectations can often be high. That’s a good thing. Our industries evolve and the marketplace becomes more competitive, complex and dynamic. This helps us think about what we need to do going forward.
As your organization moves into the future, here are a few things to remember to do today to ensure a brighter tomorrow.
- Continue to strengthen and maintain culture. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. It’s an old saying but it’s true. We have to continue to build that sense of community where everybody is part of a team working together for a common goal. To enhance culture, you keep building it. It is never complete, nor is it ever totally successful. It is a work in progress (and process) all the time. Culture should be based on trust, loyalty, collaboration and something else that is extremely important – resilience. Create a culture that makes sure that all employees do not just work for an organization but that they belong to a mission and a cause.
- Embrace an uncertain future and adapt. Respond without undue stress to constantly changing circumstances. Sometimes, organizations and people get confused, become catatonic or frustrated by rapid changes in their respective industries. In my view, organizations must embrace uncertainty and be at the forefront of change, while recognizing that some of the ideas they’re pursuing in response to market pressures may not produce ideal solutions. The point is, you can’t stand still because of uncertainty and leave it to others to set the agenda, especially politicians and regulators who are only vaguely familiar with the day-to-day challenges of running a business. If we let uncertainty stop us at every turn, we would never advance. Progress is essential to thriving and surviving in any endeavor where there is competition – especially health care.
- Be innovative and make it a core competency of your organization. Always discover new ways of doing things. Health care reform means essentially doing things differently tomorrow than we did yesterday. At Northwell, our challenge is caring for patients differently. How do we deliver health care differently? How do we engage differently? Are we providing better access? In health care, we have a growing tolerance for positive discomfort and for what I call “creative destruction.” Get rid of what doesn’t work, replace it with what does.
- Invest in education, academics, and research. This is where you push the envelope. It’s where you develop a national and international brand by the way you innovate and the discoveries you make.
- Avoid Complacency. Be careful not to allow yesterday’s successes to lull you into believing the good times will just keep coming. After most teams win a championship, they rarely repeat. Why? Because they lose that sense of urgency. Just because you’ve won before doesn’t mean you’ll win again. That championship? It’s in the rearview mirror. If you keep looking back at it and your past success without analyzing what it means for the future, the next championship will never happen. Look at tomorrow. Get better than you are today because others are always trying to outmaneuver you.
- Maintain the human touch. This is the most important thing on this list, especially when it comes to health care. We must not lose the human touch as we propel headlong into the world of technology. Whether it’s data analytics, artificial intelligence or telemedicine, we must balance the benefits of technology and the human aspect of service. Technology is unbelievably useful and is expanding in a major way. However, it’s the face-to-face contacts and the personal relationships that must never be lost. In health care, technology will do what technology does, but without the human touch, it will not create the optimum patient experience.
- Build your talent base and invest in it. Continue to develop, recruit, advance and promote talent. Create diversity in your leadership that allows you to better reflect the customers you serve. When your workers’ and your customers’ expectations change, you had better adapt to meet them – or run the risk of losing them altogether. In health care, there is nothing static about what we’re doing and there will be nothing static about how we proceed into the future.
Attitude matters. Our attitude towards challenges, opportunities, and problems matter. Call it optimism if you wish. The ability to be optimistic during even the direst circumstances will enable you to fix, cure or change things. There is no problem that can’t be won and no challenge that can’t be handled. I believe there is nothing the market can throw at us to make us fail. Why? Because we have an attitude of positivity. We believe in ourselves. Instill that spirit in others, keep your eyes set on tomorrow and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how bright the future can be.