Hello Anyone and Everyone
Welcome to my blog.
My intention is to blog weekly with simple strategies for success in areas of life where I have been successful starting with the vocation I have engaged in for 27 years; Healthcare Management.
I have also published a book,https://www.createspace.com/4290008, and E-book, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CV9IL22, on this topic: The 3 R’s of Success in Healthcare. Today’s blog will be a short anecdote from that book called “3 envelopes” and was the first post on my blog 5 months and 10,000 page views ago!
A young healthcare administrator landed his first CEO position. He was both excited and apprehensive as he entered “Mahogany Row” his first Monday morning. He introduced himself to his new administrative assistant in the common area of the C-suite and started walking toward his office, when his new assistant told him he already had a visitor waiting for him. The young leader was a little taken aback. “Who is it?” he asked. “the former CEO..” his new assistant answered. The new leader cocked his head, then gave a quick nod and entered into the office.
To his surprise, he found the former CEO, whom he recognized from his research before he had interviewed for his new position, sitting at HIS new desk. The predecessor rose, held out his hand, with a hearty “Welcome!” The gentleman was sharply, but comfortably dressed, twenty years the new leader’s senior, well tanned with crows feet and graying temples that looked like they had come more from smiling and a stylist, than from stress and worry. The new CEO stepped forward and took the man’s hand with a well rehearsed grip, and said, “Thank You. I appreciate that.” There was a moment of awkward silence as the older gentleman pointedly looked the younger man up and down as if to size him up. Then he broke the silence, and said, “Yes, you will need these.” As he said this he released the hand shake and reached down and picked up three envelopes from the top of the desk and handed them across the desk toward the younger man.
“I am hanging up this profession,” began the predecessor. “I have been a hospital CEO for the last 21 years. I have done very well for myself. I have a beautiful house on the beach and a very healthy 401K, and I am ready to enjoy life. Before I do so I thought I would pass on the wisdom I have acquired to you if you are interested. So, are you interested?”
The younger man, looked down at the hand with the three envelopes and said, “Sure…why not?” The older man pushed the envelopes toward him and he took them. They were sealed and had writing on the front: “1”, “2”, and “3”. The young man looked from the envelopes to the older gentleman, but before he could speak, the veteran said, “It is very simple. Before your first annual review, open the first envelope and use the advice, before your second do the same with the second, and finally the third… well… you get it, right?” as the man strode from behind the desk and out the door of the office, the young CEO turned to watch him go, the former CEO waved and called back over his shoulder, “Good Luck!” and he was gone…
One year later the young leader was feeling out of sorts. His review with the Board was coming up, and he had not achieved any of his goals. He was frustrated with the Medical Staff for not supporting his plans and he had no idea how to turn things around. He was beginning to question his career choice. In his despair he reached into his desk drawer to get some stationery for his resignation letter. There, by the stationery envelopes were the three numbered envelopes left by his predecessor. He reached in and pulled them out. He found the one with the number “1”, and opened it. There were only two words written on the page… “BLAME ME”.
The young CEO instantly felt rejuvenated. This made perfect sense… After all, the previous CEO had been hated by the majority of the Medical Staff and almost half of the Board! How could he expect to succeed with the complete lack of trust between the Medical Staff and Administration. If it had not been for the horrible relationship left behind by the previous leader, he would surely have been able to secure the buy-in necessary for the Medical Staff to support him. It really WAS the previous CEO’s fault. He began to prepare his Board report and linked every failing back to the previous administration. It worked brilliantly! He sailed through his review and moved on to the second year
Year two passed quickly, and sadly so did most opportunities for success. The CEO sat at his desk in despair. The excuses had grown old and the former CEO had only been there a year longer than he had now! He wished he could show at least as much progress as that guy had in his first two years. That guy really was not so bad. After all, he had pulled his bacon out if the fire with that envelope… Hey, the envelopes! He threw open the center desk drawer and rummaged until he found the two plain envelopes. He hurriedly grabbed the one with the number 2 on it and ripped it open. Again, a short message, ‘blame I.T.”. The young CEO’s eyes brightened immediately. “This guy is brilliant! I can blame our poor collections and revenue on our antiquated coding and billing systems, bad decisions on bad decision support tools”, he reasoned. “The Board will buy it,” and of course, they did…
Year three had been worse than the first two for the young CEO. In truth, he was about done with this place. He had a couple of new services that he had started but they consumed a huge proportion of capital that had left infrastructure in even worse shape. Still, they looked good on a resume and he had a couple head hunters call with some interesting opportunities in larger facilities, and larger paychecks, but he also had started to put roots down and would not mind staying if he could really turn things around at this hospital. “After all,” he thought, I still have my secret weapon. He went to his office, opened the drawer, and pulled out the last envelope with the number 3 on the front. He took a deep breath, opened the envelope, unfolded the paper inside and read the short command, “Prepare 3 envelopes”
The average tenure of a hospital CEO is now less than three years. Unfortunately, I have met a few leaders that have fit this mold. Three years and out, five or six times, and they exit the business with healthy nest eggs, then move on to consulting, or even worse, they become a Joint Commission Surveyor!
Special thanks to my friend James Tyler who told me the core of this story when I got my first (and to this date, only) CEO role. If I could remember any more of your stories, I would steal…, I mean… relay them too!