Funny Numbers

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Medical City Dallas Hospital uses movies, skits and superheroes to convey serious information to all levels of staff.

Like most organizations, Medical City Dallas Hospital holds employee staff meetings filled with talk of missions, visions and values. Medical City's "forums" are attended by all employees, physicians, and, on occasion, Elvis, the Terminator, and Austin Powers.

It's all part of the 510-staffed-bed hospital's commitment to making work more fun, says Britt Berrett, president and chief executive officer. Berrett and his executive team use the mandatory quarterly meetings to review the organization's five indicators of success (employee pride, physician engagement, patient loyalty, community involvement and fiscal performance) using skits and songs rather than PowerPoint to convey their message.

"We've got 2,400 employees and 1,100 physicians. Each is from a different generation. To touch each one of them has taken a lot of different strategies," Berrett says.

The 10 members of the executive team rotate responsibilities for the funny skits, most of which take less than an hour to plan and produce with the help of Medical City's media department. Berrett and his executive team have been superheroes ("Brittman and Robin"), on scooters, and in dunk tanks since they began using this format eight years ago.

Last year, they hosted a Medical City Idol competition with physicians as judges. The skits focus on serious topics and hospital initiatives like disaster planning or patient satisfaction. For example, during a recent meeting, staff learned about the performance improvement strategy PDCA (plan, do, check, act)--to the tune of "YMCA."

The emphasis on fun in no way means that Medical City takes medicine lightly. The facility is a Magnet hospital and a 2006 recipient of the Texas Award for Performance Excellence, the state's highest honor for quality and organizational performance.

Employees look forward to the meetings, says Chief Financial Officer Tim Burroughs, and the focus on fun connects senior leaders to the rest of the staff. "A lot of folks say, 'They're just up there in their executive offices, and they don't really connect to us.' This really is a good way to do that," Burroughs says.

"It helps us break down the stoic nature of the executive office," adds Berrett.

-Molly Rowe

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