What we should expect of leaders

I’ve written many posts on leadership. As we witness the peaceful transfer of power in the Office of the President, it seems fitting to reflect again on leadership and what we should expect of leaders. canstockphoto7867487

When I think of critical leadership qualities at the executive level, I think of vision, integrity, presence, communication, and authenticity.  If you look at position descriptions for executive level leaders in business, you will see all of these and more.  

I’ve talked in the past about the core principles and values I share with my staff when starting a new leadership position. In that early period, I want my team to get to know me and to understand what’s important to me. I want them to hold me accountable for living these values every day in every situation. And I also expect everyone on my team to live them as we work together.

Here they are again but with a more generic description that can fit any leadership position: Continue reading

Yes we can: women in health IT

Think about the little girls you know. Did they get even more dolls for holiday gifts? Or did they get toys and games that teach creative thinking and how to build things? Or did they maybe even get toys officiallycanstockphoto36568604 STEM labeled in the STEM category?

Social norms start young. I recently played a match game with my two-year-old granddaughter. When we matched the truck picture, she took it over to her 6-month-old baby brother as though it was his domain! This granddaughter and her two-year-old girl cousin have a variety of developmental toys. But when it’s free play, they are often clutching one of their dolls, whether it’s Princess Sofia the First or the newest Disney Princess Elena of Avalor. At least these characters are both confident, strong and compassionate princesses!

My four-year-old granddaughter isn’t as attached to dolls these days. After a break, she is back in dance class, my birthday gift to her. I know she loves it.  At Christmas, with her mother’s advice, I gave her 3 months of Koala Crate – a creative, educational activity box for 3-5 year olds. She loved the first box – making stuffed reptiles and learning about them.

You may be saying it’s all about exposing kids to a lot of different things. I agree. But it’s important to not fall into the gender norms when they are young.

Let’s fast forward from my 3 little granddaughters to some of the female leaders in our health IT industry. Continue reading

Taking control of your life

It was a year ago that I did just that. I decided it was time to make a major life change professionally and personally. Since then, many people have wanted to learn how I did it. In fact, I spoke just this canstockphoto12123429week with a former mentee about her next professional move.

My advice was basic. Look at your last few professional moves. Why did you want to stay somewhere and why were you willing to leave? What were you looking for in the next opportunity? And what isn’t there today that you’d look for in the next opportunity.

I told her if she looks carefully at this, she’ll see a theme as to what makes her happy and what frustrates her. Then there will be more questions:

  • What kind of work do you want to do?
  • What kind of team do you want to be part of?
  • What mission will keep you committed and passionate?

But I told her not to get caught in the “grass is greener” trap. Because it’s not. Every organization has its crazy. You just need to figure out what that is and how to work effectively within it. Continue reading

Learning from the annual industry list ritual

Holiday gift lists, baking lists, family fun lists while kids are out of school and “honey do” lists while off from work…..we have personal to do lists everywhere. But as the year ends, it’s interesting to canstockphoto18647021look back on some of the industry based 2016 lists and look ahead at what to expect in 2017.

I’ve compiled some of the most interesting health care and technology lists to share as we approach this annual turn of the year. You’ve probably seen some of them already.

There are the best places to work lists where we can all learn best practices to attract and retain talent in a competitive market: Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare 2016 and Becker’s 150 Great Places to Work in Healthcare 2016. And more specific to IT, there is Healthcare IT News’ Best Hospital IT Departments 2016. Check out their profiles and possibly get some new ideas to apply in your own organizations. Continue reading

Great techspectations: learning from retail

If you are like me, you’ve recently done some online shopping – if not for holiday gifts, then for yourself. And your experiences have probably ranged from easy and awesome to  frustrating and canstockphoto20876918difficult.

Without naming any companies, I’ll describe the optimal experience, but also what we all too often run into.

The most satisfying experience is when the retailer already has some key information about you so the transaction can be completed with just a couple clicks; they also offer a real-time chat with a service rep if you need it.  We keep going back to those sites.

The frustrating ones are confusing: too much back and forth between multiple screens and not at all intuitive. If something is backordered, they don’t tell you until the end of the process. Then, you have to start over and give your information again. In the end, you may get the product you want (or something close) but it took too long and was difficult. Continue reading

Time for a job change?

It’s that time of year. With the holidays upon us, you may have a slightly more relaxed schedule at work. And you may be taking stock of where you are in your career and what might be next.canstockphoto14736747

I talk with a lot of people looking for career advice. It might be millennials early in their career who are thinking about their next opportunity. It might be mid-career management positions who are looking for that next step up. Or it might be people late in their career who are thinking about stepping off the permanent track for a less than full time work situation and a more balanced lifestyle to spend time with family or travel.

Regardless, the questions to consider are similar for everyone:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are your key strengths and areas of expertise?
  • What new skills do you want to develop?
  • What new areas do you want to learn about and develop expertise in?
  • What kind of organization and culture do you want to work in?
  • What family situations do you need to consider? Are you starting a family, do you have young children at home or teenagers who need a different kind of support? Are you caring for elderly parents? What are your spouse or partner’s work hours and flexibility?
  • Do you want to and are you able to relocate to another part of the country? Are you open to anywhere or specific regions?
  • And last, but not least, what are your financial requirements?

Continue reading

Aspiring to Stage 7

I recently participated as the CIO reviewer on a HIMSS Analytics Stage 7 validation. The long travel to the West Coast aside, I was happy to contribute my time and expertise to be exposed to an advanced

Source: HIMSS Analytics

Source: HIMSS Analytics

organization and to meet a wonderful group of leaders. The review team also included a Chief Medical Information Officer and the HIMSS Analytics Regional Director for North America.

As of the 3rd quarter this year, only 4.6% of hospitals have achieved Stage 7 while 30.5% have achieved Stage 6. Just over a third of hospitals are currently at Stage 5.

All three hospitals I’ve served as CIO have achieved Stage 6. Getting from Stage 6 to 7 is a significant leap. There is a greater focus on analytics and using the data from the electronic health record to improve patient outcomes.

From the HIMSS Analytics website, here is how Stage 7 is described: Continue reading

Cuban healthcare, an emphasis on prevention

You will be hearing a lot about Cuba after the death of Fidel Castro. I am certainly not an expert on Cuba, but I learned a lot about the country and its people recently on an 8-day Road Scholar tour. canstockphoto21968575And I was particularly interested in learning about their healthcare system.

“I wanted to see and experience Cuba before it drastically changes with American influence and investment”. That was the sentiment from many of our fellow travelers.

The trip was called “People and Society: Cienfuegos to Havana”. It included day trips to Trinidad and Santa Clara plus a stop at the Bay of Pigs on our way to Havana. Everywhere we went, we experienced the cultural arts first hand – music and dance from young grade school age students to seniors well into their 80’s. We heard a chamber orchestra and saw a contemporary dance show.

We heard lectures on history, politics, and religion as well as how Cuban millennials view the  future. We learned how negatively the U.S. embargo has impacted the people of Cuba. And how they want the embargo fully lifted but with future U.S. investments and development managed.

We had a chance to sit and talk for an hour with a young man who works in a telecom job in health care. I asked about electronic health records and he said they are in the process of implementing a system they have developed.

When I got home and caught up on my email, I learned that a 15-member delegation of healthcare executives visited Cuba while we were there. That delegation was led by former HHS Secretary and Governor Mike Leavitt, and included Dr. David Blumenthal, former National Coordinator at ONC and Stephen Lieber, HIMSS president and CEO. Stephen wrote an insightful blog on the experience. The delegation was a mix of vendor, consulting and provider executives who had gone to see the Cuban healthcare delivery system up close. Continue reading

Ensuring smooth leadership transitions

Transitions of leadership are going on all the time in our organizations: a new CEO, a new VP, or new management at another level; it is change.

As I’ve written about, I just completed such a transition. I have served as an interim CIO for 8 plus canstockphoto33589643months. The agreement for the engagement was that I’d stay through the successful transition to the new CIO. We envisioned a 30 day overlap.

As the start date for the new CIO approached, 30 days seemed very long. Wouldn’t the new CIO want to get in and get started without me around? But as she and I started planning that time, 30 days seemed reasonable for all that we needed to do. When it came time to start the transition, there was so much else going on each day we found it hard to find the time to focus on the transition work. In the end, we both agreed 30 days was the right amount of time and extremely helpful to her.

But a 30-day overlap and transition period can be a luxury. Organizations often go through leadership transitions with far less time or even no time for the old and new leaders to work together. When I took the interim engagement, I had an hour conversation with the previous CIO on his second to last day; that was it. Continue reading

Forward together

Like many, I am surprised and disappointed at the outcome of the presidential election. From some of my previous posts the past few years, there’s probably no question about my political leanings. canstockphoto10854745

A new message of “forward together” is needed now more than ever. Only half of all eligible voters voted on Tuesday. Half of them voted for Donald Trump and half for Hillary Clinton. She got more popular votes. But that means only one fourth of the country elected our next president. He will need to be a president for all of us.

A dark cloud has hung over us during an incredibly divisive and bitter campaign with often hateful language and bullying behaviors. We may have been afraid to talk to co-workers or neighbors or family members in fear they may support the other candidate and we did not want to have to debate with them. People on both sides felt this way.

Hillary Clinton’s speech to her staff on Wednesday had many important and inspiring messages as we move forward as a country. I encourage you to find the speech online to gain some perspective and to renew your hope for the future.

I watched her speech with my husband and the general contractor on our outside house project. He and his crew have been working here for several weeks on a major redo project – new patio, landscape and fence. They are a nice group of guys and we chat each day. But we consciously never brought up the election.

The general contractor needed to talk to us about a change order so came into the house Wednesday morning. He saw we were not in a good mood and asked who we had supported. He told us he voted for Trump. Bottom line, he thought a change was needed but admitted that he couldn’t defend a lot of what Trump said on the campaign trail. We debated a bit but it was civil.

He said he wanted to see Hillary’s speech when it came on. I went outside and got him when it was time. He sat in our living room with one of our dogs on his lap and watched. I sat behind him in the kitchen with tears. He thanked us for letting him come in and watch and said she made some great points. I told him that I did it with a big heart. Continue reading