Tuesday, January 10, 2012


For today’s board meeting at Children’s Hospital, we had to read a couple of chapters from the book “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson.

The big question was: how does Steve Jobs apply to Children’s Hospital? What can we learn from him? How can we understand “focus” in the context of health care improvements?

It started off an interesting discussion around Steve Jobs ability to live the vision. The importance of not just having a written vision, but living that vision. Children’s Hospital strives for excellence in everything they do, and that has to be “lived” at all levels of the organization every day.

The question was if Children’s Hospital should start “focusing” on the right things rather than trying to do everything. This is a tough one, since their patient population’s needs vary at all times. When it comes to all the things the hospital is measuring at the executive level, I do agree that the question should be: what should the focus be?

Another thought was that Children’s Hospital doesn’t always demonstrate urgency, and how can that change? How can the “focus” come into play when it comes to urgency?

I do love that the other parent in the board meeting raised a good point about the fact that as much as Steve Jobs can give perspective, you’re not really comparing apples to apples. It is very different to be a customer of Apple buying a fancy phone or laptop versus being a customer, a parent or a child, of Children’s Hospital. When you’re a customer of Children’s Hospital, the vision, the excellence, the focus needs to be there at every level, every hand shake, every communication, every day, and every time. The humanity of the organization needs to be visible every time.

I think I did shock them a bit by saying that despite Steve Jobs' uncompromising style, the fact that he hated authority, and many times was a disruptive leader, I would like to have a “mini Steve Jobs" in my son’s doctors. The best doctors are not always the ones that follow the “standard” way. In fact, the doctors who have given Jacob the best care are the ones who are willing to try new things, who are willing to take risks, who are willing to think outside the box, and think different. This one was not that easy for some of the MDs to agree with me on. They slightly shook their heads, and started talking about HIPAA and the regulated business. Others felt that Children’s Hospital does accept those brilliant doctors despite them being “difficult”.

Steve Jobs or not. Apple versus children. It was definitely a good fresh lively discussion, and I love that the board of Jacob’s second home is willing to challenge themselves every day. That will lead to excellence, focus, and new fresh ideas.

Happy Tuesday! – Maria.

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