In today’s healthcare environment, an organization’s capability to growing a sustainable revenue line is dependent on growing their market share. Because of the increasing availability of comparable clinical outcome data and ease of transportation, consumers have more flexibility in selecting their health care providers. An important question that the CEO and Leadership Team of any healthcare organization must be asking themselves: “Is our culture and brand strong enough to attract new customers and retain our old ones?” This is the critical question that all leaders of any business must ask and answer in the affirmative to contribute to future success.
Culture and brand are linked together as the face of the organization, so what are the elements needed? Culture is the “soul” of the organization and its people. Brand is its identity. Creating a strong culture and brand is not an accident, it must be intentional. If the culture is weak, the organization’s brand and its products and services become unrecognizable from any others. The essential components of a strong culture and recognizable brand include:
1. Mission, Vision, and Values – a simple way of articulating these for the employees is that the Mission is who we are, the Vision is where we are going, and our Values are how we live each day. In these highly challenging and competitive times it is important that these three foundational elements of the organization not be written documents posted on the walls, but rather daily, lived experiences.
2. Accountability of its People – every strategy and tactic, so critical in building the brand, should have an assigned responsible party/parties, metrics for success, and timelines for completion.
3. Environment of Transparency – All outcome data, good or bad should be communicated both internally and externally. This provides a strong motivation to improve. Without it, mediocrity is often the outcome.
4. Authenticity of Board Members, Physician Leaders, and Administrative Leaders – It is important leaders be humble, be inclusive, and “walk-the-talk”.
5. Embrace a Journey to Excellence – Best practice outcomes should be utilized as the goals for all work.
6. Use of a Balanced Scorecard – All oversight and decision-making should be driven by a balanced scorecard populated by those measurements deemed critical for success. These measurements should represent clinical outcomes, service delivery indicators, business literacy goals, and community value assessments.
7. Strategic and Future Planning Processes
8. Effective and Strong Physician Integration
9. Organization Ethics - A strong moral compass is required for all. A non-retaliation environment is critical for those who come forward identifying problem areas.
10. Enterprise Risk Management – Understanding the potential side effects of change and putting in place strategies to minimize such is an important process. Also, fostering an innovative environment requires a defined risk tolerance level.
11. A Palpable Passion – All who work in healthcare must remember that it is a “sacred ministry” because each day people come in and turn their most precious gift over to a healthcare professional, their life. This is an awesome privilege, which should generate a high level of passion. Passion is required to face the enormous challenges which lie ahead.
It is clear that a strong Culture and Brand are critical success factors for any organization, perhaps even more important today than they were in the past. If the components described above are not embraced at all levels of the organization, the best strategies will not be implemented successfully. We have all heard repeatedly that “culture trumps strategy”, but my version is “the organization’s culture and brands wil drive its strategy”.