Management guru-visionary-grump Tom Peters told the assembled leaders of the American Hospital Association's annual Leadership Forum Thursday that they have no more excuses for poor performance. He had personal evidence. He spent 5.5 hours recently waiting in an emergency room while his wife suffered from a broken ankle.
While referring to the facility only as "a top hospital you will just have to figure out on your own," he recalled the four-minute interactions with a variety of physicians, and the terse, unsympathetic "no" he got when he asked if his wife could have some water. Peters said he understood that emergency rooms had to prioritize based on the acuity of patients brought in, but that alone could not justify why the visit was so poor.
"It was not a great experience. It was an awful experience," Peters said.
Peters—who describes himself alternately as a German engineer and a statistician hobbyist—said that the nationwide variations in hospital performance were not justified based on circumstances, singling our performance leaders such as Geisinger and Griffin Health as examples of health systems that have excelled in service and outcomes despite having the same constraints facing most of the nation's hospitals. "You just can't explain it away," he said.
So Peters offered his own list of "Principal Management and Leadership (as opposed to policy) Issues":
Other kernels flowing from Peters:
"The CEO is not supposed to be the top strategist. The CEO is supposed to hire the top strategist."
"Leaders do people. It's the only damn thing they do."
"Excel at sucking down." (Covet relationships with people who do hard, often unrecognized jobs)
"Be astonishingly careful of who the hell you promote."
"Everyone has bad days. When 18 out of 22 days are crappy, there is a message."