ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

June 1999

100 Percent Waterproof

Taking Teams To A Higher Level

Making The Soft Stuff Hard

The King Of Leadership Programs

Merger And Acquisition: The Six Deadly Sins

Enough Is Enough

by Peter Block

Tick Tock, Your Life Is Like A Clock
by Greg Smith

Sorry We're Closed: Diary Of A Shutdown

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The King Of Leadership Programs
Hospital Leadership Program Aligns Workforce

Stop the presses, there's been another Elvis sighting. The late, great king of rock and roll has been spotted once again, but this time the spotting was in quite an unusual location.

A location even more peculiar than Uncle Bob's Gas 'n Go - just north of Jasper, Alabama - where the blue suede shoe wearing rocker stopped for a fill up early last fall. A location more uncanny than the burrito in Tijuana where the likeness of the jailhouse rocker surfaced for short rendition of Love Me Tender.

Where exactly was this latest Elvis sighting? At a small hospital in the college town of Pullman, Wash, more specifically in the hospital's leadership program.

Pullman Memorial Hospital, located on the Washington State University campus, has turned the king of rock and roll into an acronym for achieving business excellence - E.L.V.I.S. Standing for, Energy, Leadership, Vision, Individuality and Sustainability, Pullman Memorial's E.L.V.I.S. leadership program has been a successful tool for aligning the hospital's staff with organizational goals and improving key metrics.

E.L.V.I.S. Has Entered the Hospital
Pullman Memorial Hospital is a forty-two bed, accredited, acute care hospital. Pullman Memorial services include 24-hour emergency care, medical, surgical and obstetrical services, physical therapy, laboratory and oncology services, orthopedic surgery and respiratory therapy. Also an educational institution, Pullman Memorial houses a diabetes education program, nutritional counseling and healthcare programs tailored to meet group needs. The PMH staff, over 200 employees, includes registered nurses, pharmacists, medical technologists, physical and respiratory therapists, physicians and surgeons.

E.L.V.I.S. entered the building in 1993, as a proactive measure to align the organization around a set of core values and the hospital's mission and vision. Pullman Memorial wanted to excel as a total healthcare facility by providing the Pullman community with exceptional medical service and education. To get there would require change efforts.

"The strategy at Pullman Memorial Hospital in bringing about fundamental change was to focus on training, coaching, education and support at the individual, department and organizational level," states Scott Adams, CEO of Pullman Memorial Hospital. This quote captures the essence of the E.L.V.I.S program. Pullman Memorial was able to build Energy and Individuality by focusing on the individual employee. Pullman Memorial recognized that the success or failure of its change efforts would rest on support the program received from employees. It would take personal commitment, motivation and synergy from all of the employees for the hospital to transform the way it operated.

The King of Leadership and Vision
Pullman Memorial's vision and mission are tangible examples of the focus the hospital placed on individual employees being crucial to the change efforts. Both the organizational mission and vision were crafted based on ideas starting at the individual level.

The typical mission statement in most companies is a top-down concept - a vision of company goals created by top-level employees. At Pullman Memorial the mission starts with the design of personal aspirations by employees. Personal goals lead to the formation of department goals. These department goals led way to corporate values. Finally, these corporate values become the basis of the company's mission and vision. The unusual aspect of this mission design is its origin - the hospital employees.

"We constantly strive to link all of our organizational efforts to our mission and vision by using our values as a guide," adds Deena Rauch, Pullman's director of educational services and a champion of the change efforts. "We personally set out to strengthen the personal alignment between the individual and that of the organization by fostering the development of guiding principles," states Rauch. "The individual must understand how their personal aspirations and day-to-day work defines the work culture."

By incorporating values and employee aspirations into the corporate mission, Pullman Memorial was able to align its employees and organizational objectives. The hospital's process for crafting a mission assured the development of a mission that operated in partnership with employee's goals. A domino effect ensued. If employees achieved personal goals then corporate goals would be achieved.

"Our strength comes from being able to match what's important to people personally to what's important to the hospital. The more these overlap the stronger we'll be as an organization," adds Adams.

Aware and Involved
To raise individual involvement and awareness to an even higher level Pullman Memorial introduced several new strategies. Pullman Memorial increased their orientation process for new employees and added a personality style assessment gauge that "creates a common language for understanding ourselves and each other," according to Rauch.

Training was also increased to include interpersonal communication training, team skills training, facilitation training, and tools and techniques training. This training, coupled with the personality assessment, led to a workforce that was more attune of co-workers, able to interact more efficiently, and capable of recognizing and solving problems.

Materializing a Vision
Now that Pullman had drafted a vision that aligned its employees with corporate goals and taken steps to create an involved and aware workforce it was time to move from talk to action.

One resulting change from the leadership program was the formation of a Health Promotion Coalition, a partnership between Pullman, health agencies and another area hospital. The Health Promotion Coalition was formed to improve the health status of county residents by providing the public with health information and education.

According to Rauch, participation in the coalition has increased Pullman's services to the community, expanded the hospital's market, and secured its involvement in countywide health issues.

Another E.L.V.I.S.-lead change was the redesign of the hospital's ethics committee. In years past the ethics committee had existed only to review cases presented before it. However, in 1996 the committee was changed to include non-physicians (clergy, educators, social workers, etc.). Subsequently the role of this committee switched from that of a review board to a committee that actively shaped policy. The Pullman Memorial ethics committee now handles issues related to prevention, education, consultation and policy recommendation. It is a clear example of a group that went from reacting to acting.

A third outcome from the leadership program is the planned "Care Community," a single location medical facility that is capable of handling numerous medical and social concerns from the community. Pullman Memorial is currently in the planning stages of this new facility that will include a full-service hospital, rehabilitation center, community education, adult and child daycare, and transitional housing. Housing all of these services in one facility will allow for communication and collaboration between service providers and greatly improve access to health services for community members. For example, a community member would use the same facility for knee surgery as well as follow-up rehabilitation. At the same time, surgeons and rehabilitation specialists would be in close contact with each other. This proximity of service providers would increase information sharing, and speed up the implementation of new services and programs.

Sustainability: Measuring and Maintaining Results
The success of most quality and leadership programs is nested in the programs' effects on the bottom line. And E.L.V.I.S. has put on quite a performance.

From 1995-'97 Pullman tripled its profitability by controlling costs and increasing revenues. Not coincidentally, during the same time period money spent on training programs increased 16 percent. Also, employee surveys show that leadership, autonomy, trust and communication all increased at least 25 percent.

According to Adams, employee retention also improved following the implementation of the E.L.V.I.S. leadership program. "We're creating an environment where people want to work and they make a point of trying to stay," Adams states.

Some nice improvements, but patient satisfaction and clinical performance are the key metrics when judging a hospitals success. In the case of Pullman Memorial, patient surveys show a 95 percent satisfaction rate.

As for clinical performance, E.L.V.I.S. helped Pullman reduce infection rates by 50-75 percent and the average stay following a hip replacement by 14 percent. Also, Pullman's percent of medicine error rates is below the national 2 percent standard.

"The improvement of these indicators is a direct result of the people who are giving the care," states Dorcas Hirzel, director of quality resources for Pullman. "They put forth the effort to look at our processes and make changes to improve them."

June '99 News for a Change | Email Editor
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