Friday, May 15, 2009

Strategy And The Fat Smoker

Strategy And The Fat Smoker: Doing What is Obvious But Not Easy is the latest book by management consultant David Maister. Its premise is that most of us know what to do; the problem is doing it. For example, to lose weight, we know that we should eat less and exercise more. Yet, we don't lose weight because we don't do what we know should be done.

Similarly, we know that some of the best business environments occur when people work collaboratively in teams, where all team members are equally respected, and when each member feels like he or she is contributing to something important.

David Maister would be proud of our experience at Memorial Sloane-Kettering. Before each of my wife's chemo treatments, an RN preps her with an IV and goes through a series of questions. On this latest occasion, I asked Ann if she like working at Memorial.

You can tell one's passion when they go beyond a yes or no response. Such was Ann's response when said that she loved working here because of the team philosophy that allowed her to develop a close working relationship with the attending doctor (the doctor and nurse are teamed); this, in turn, allowed her regular contact with patients with whom she established a caring relationship. At Memorial, staff are eager - and not resistent - to help with small requests (an expanded notion of the team) and the MDs treat the RNs as equals.

Maister is so very right. We know what contributes to satisfaction in the workplace, and we can see it alive even in such potentially depressing places as a cancer hospital. The real challenge is to do it.

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