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A passionate organization in a passion-based economy

Posted Jan 11 2009 3:49pm

The Business Innovation Factory’s Saul Kaplan sees a lack of passion in the world today as a result of the evolution to a knowledge-based economy:

We need to move from a knowledge-based economy to a passion-based economy. Who gets excited about a knowledge-based economy? Where is the passion? I have spent a ton of time and effort to rally the troops. If I am honest, people just haven’t connected emotionally. The knowledge-based economy has given us the tools we need but has fallen short in solving the real issues of our time including health care, education, energy independence, public safety, and quality of life. These are all systems issues that will require systems solutions.

A lack of passion in health care.  It’s a disturbing thought.  And it’s right on point.

To be sure, health care careers demand passion.  John Bogle in Enough!:

Contrast the businessmen and businesswomen with others who are chasing what I believe are the real rabbits of life—physicians and surgeons and nurses…  Perhaps these responsible, dedicated souls earn our respect because they serve our society knowing that accumulating great wealth is almost out of the question, that great fame is rare, and that great power–at least temporal power–is conspicuous by its absence.

But there is a problem in the health care organization today.  The practice of health caring is divine, it’s also draining.  It is inspirational, yet demanding.  Many, many great people in this industry do great things every day, very, very passionately.  Many also struggle with frustrations—the cause of which most can be blamed upon the system that we operate in: it makes many silly business practices necessary.  The system can also make “doing the right thing” very difficult to do.

This is where the modern health care organization falls short: it fails to allow for passionate people to be completely passionate about their work.  The very existence of an organization should serve as insulation for the front-line workers inside the organization from the frustration-making realities of the outside.  More often than not, they don’t.  As a result, workers driven by passion often are not.

It’s difficult to determine where the passion is lost.  Talk to most students looking into medical school/nursing school/health administration/etc. (+ early careerists) and you will find that most are idealistic and altruistic in their endeavors.  They are passionate about helping patients heal, about fixing health care, about doing good for the world.

Once the realities of the system come into focus, however, those feelings seem to subside and the health care world suffers because of it.

To be sure, passion still exists for today’s health care worker—on an individual level.  It is passion exuded despite extreme distraction.  The health care worker today is passionate about caring for the individual patient but remains burdened by the business reality frustrations of the industry.  For health care to be great, for the individual organization to be great, passion for what health carers do must be exhibited at the system level.  For it is fact that any progress–any innovation–made in health care delivery will surely be driven by the care givers.

While the modern health care organization is largely responsible for the apathy produced within its bounds, it also happens to be the lone (for now…) solution.  Mr. Kaplan:

If your organization is blindly vested in the way you do business today, it is a good time to explore and test new models and systems with a clear passion at the core. If your organization is determined to resist change, move out of the way because the wisdom of crowds has learned how to mobilize behind a compelling passion. These new purposeful networks will not be stopped.

So are you trying new things?  Are you testing new models?  Have you even thought about such problems within your organization?

Many organizations are trying to find “innovative” ways to bring new nurses on board.  Tactics include giving away gas cards, trips, and vehicle leases…

How about allowing and promoting and creating the most amazing culture ever to be experienced in a health care organization?  An organization where workers can passionately carry out their day-to-day life saving/changing/improving activities?  Workers are finding more desirable outlets for their skill, for their passion, everyday.  They will continue to do so.  Difficult worker shortages will only become more common.  Proper attention to this matter needs to be made.  Building an organization that people desire/long/dream to work for starts with leadership.

Mr. Kaplan for a final thought:

Systems level innovation requires passionate leaders and organizations that are committed to a cause. Passion-based organizations stop at nothing to accomplish their goals and are able to attract people and resources to their causes. A passion economy can arise that unleashes both a new era of prosperity and solutions for the big issues of our time.

Passion-based organizations are a supremely great idea and they require passionate leadership to blossom.  More important, though, are the people caring for patients.  Executives can preach passion from the ivory tower (surely some do) but the passion-based organization is about (all about!) the front-line (read: most important) workers.

Commitment from them is essential, don’t ignore that.

All too many have.

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