Now Reading: Results That Last: Hardwiring Behaviors That Will Take Your Company to the Top, by Quint Studer

I decided to read this book because I have been a fan of Quint Studer’s philosophy ever since reading some of his blog writings (here’s a great example, and note the power of blogs to bring in a new audience).
Results That Last is written from the perspective of a seasoned health care executive. I love stories, and Quint puts some very good ones in here. I appreciate that (a) he’s an optimist (“I believe that life rewards action more than inaction”) and that he shares his successes and his mistakes.
I think this book is especially good reading for a person starting a new position (that would be me) in that discussion on good leadership behaviors and creating a transparent plan are a great foundation for integration into an organization with a lot going on (aka every organization).
I agree with the commentary on striving for breakthrough performance – I especially like this quote that we should all remember:

Great companies must have at least 70 percent in the 5s

There are few things I didn’t like/agree with, and these could be chalked up to “controversial ideas” because I have heard them in mainstream health care. A lot. And we should rethink them:

Controversial idea #1: “I had to keep two groups of customers happy: patients and physicians.” On this one I worry that duality of customership creates confusion and doesn’t distinguish the best health care organizations, in my opinion. i understand that physicians refer patients to hospitals and need to tools to deliver great care for them. This is different than saying that they are a customer group like patients are. I prefer the approach that organizations like Park Nicollet use: “The patient is our only customer.”

Controversial idea #2: Making employees happy results in making customers happy. I’ve done a little research on this which I need to dig up (but, please help me here if you know of some) and I think the two are more comingled than people think. It’s possible that when an organization works hard to keep it’s customers happy, this results in employees being happy because ultimately they come to work to deliver for customers. The converse is also true, that an organization can keep employees very happy and have unhappy customers.

Controversial Idea #3: Focus on low vs high performers as opposed to functional vs dysfunctional processes. I think the book excels in demonstrating some baseline leadership behaviors like honesty and standard work like rounding, but I worry that there’s excessive attention paid (right up front, in the first chapter no less) on dealing with “low performers.” This is a bit antithetical to what people like me do in applying Toyota Management strategies – I suggest asking “why?” five times to see if a person is performing poorly or whether their environment is performing poorly for them.

There are two really great things mentioned in this book as well:

Impact of pre-visit and post-visit calls: Great data about the value of these, and in a system that has a personal health record, we just do “pre-visit and post-visit e-mail”. Wonderful.

Key Words at Key Times: Loved this as well. I used to do it in clinical practice – start every visit with “Welcome to our medical office” and end every visit with “Thank you for coming in to see us.” (It is interesting to me that some doctors/nurses don’t think to say “welcome” to a patient when the patient comes to see them!)

Overall, I think the book is actually a very good baseline/starter for more discovery about leadership approaches. Since I tend to be ahead-of-my-time-guy/person/citizen I’d probably recommend following this with something on LEAN or Toyota Management.

Ted Eytan, MD