Weekly Thoughts


Excellence Every Day

Here is something that caught our eye this week:

Lessons from the hospital

A family member has been in the hospital for a few weeks, and some of us have been spending time with her as much as possible.  Apart from becoming very well acquainted with the food options around Massachusetts General Hospital (shout out to TatteAnna’s Taqueria, and Flour Bakery), we have also assisted on a fair number of walks around the hallway. With each lap around the nurse’s station, we see this whiteboard posted rather publicly for all to see:

We love the header “Excellence Every Day” as it punctuates our belief that excellence requires a dedication to consistency as much as it does high-level performance.  We also love the three sub-headersPatient Experience, RN Satisfaction, and Qualityas they align quite nicely with core values at many of our companies.

Lastly, if you were to read the title of each piece of paper posted on this board, you would see qualitative prompts like “How often did nurses listen carefully to you?” or “How often are you treated with courtesy and respect?” along with very specific quantitative data like “Catheter-associated urinary tract infections per 1,000 catheter days”.  All of that data is presented relative to a benchmark (data from peer hospitals and/or industry averages) and whenever the results are below the benchmark, there is a big red “X” next to ita clear reminder they are not meeting the standard they have set for themselves.

If you were to stroll further along the hallway to the linen area, you’d then encounter this sign:


While these numbers give us serious heartburn, the sign provides tangible feedback in understandable terms to employees who may have previously tossed “damaged” linens without so much as a second thought.

In one ordinary whiteboard and one side door sign, Massachusetts General Hospitalarguably one of the best hospitals in the entire world, is demonstrating three critical factors to achieving excellence:

1) Consistency is a requirement for achievementStacking days isn’t just for football players; it’s for anyone who wants to chase better.

2) You can’t improve what you don’t measure: While no one piece of data in isolation can tell the whole story, data is objective and transparent.  In short, it doesn’t lie.  It can be useful even when trying to measure qualitative things like patient (or customer) satisfaction.

3) Little things matter: Linens probably don’t even register on the priority list of any healthcare worker, but $363,844 of easily avoidable waste sounds astronomical, even for a large organization.  Likewise, a UTI has got to be pretty benign compared to the types of post-surgical complications that could arise in a hospital setting.  Ultimately, if you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

We don’t love being in the hospital, but we do enjoy seeing reinforcement for the Chenmark core values in the most unexpected places.  Achieving excellence is simple, but far from easy.  That is what makes it such a worthy pursuit, whether it be in hospitals, small business, or wherever your interests lie.

Have a great week,

Your Chenmark Team

P.S. If you liked last week’s excerpt from The Operator’s Handbook, it is open for subscribers!

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