“You’re going where?” my friend asked, upon hearing I planned to fight the Monday morning commute to attend a conference at Yankee Stadium.
“Yeah, it’s not the easiest place to get to, but I think it’ll be worth it.”
A few days ago, I attended NY HIMSS Chapter’s miniHIMSS17 event in Bronx, NY, and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with old friends, meet some new contacts (people I’ll be hounding for interviews), and take in the atmosphere. Being at a ballpark surrounded by photos of legends like Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra was amazing — and this is coming from someone who despises the Yankees.
Above all, it was a chance to hear about the great work organizations across the state are doing to improve care quality and reduce costs, and how leaders are dealing with the challenges that plague all organizations during this tumultuous but exciting time. It was a chance to, as Judy Murphy noted, “pick your head up.” During a breakaway discussion on nursing informatics, the CNO of IBM Global Healthcare (and former CNO and Director for ONC) said events such as this offer, “a great way to get outside of your everyday reality to see what others are doing and share ideas.”
I agree 100 percent. And although this may not exactly be a novel concept, it is one that bears repeating. If you want to continue to evolve as a leader and as a person, you need to step out of your bubble and talk to people, face to face.
Of course, I realize it’s not always that simple. Going to industry events or participating on boards and committees takes time — time that we don’t always have. It means postponing calls or meetings, pushing back projects, and sitting in traffic as hundreds (or even thousands) of emails pile up. It means logging in extra hours the night before, arranging for someone else to pick up the kids, and leaving your team in the lurch.
Simple, it’s not.
Still, it has to be done — at least when feasible. Because by hearing other peoples’ perspectives, we’re able to broaden our own. A few weeks ago, I spoke with two members of the HHS Cybersecurity Task Force: Theresa Meadows, SVP and CIO at Cook Children’s Health Care System, and David Finn, Health IT Officer at Symantec (and a former hospital CIO). When I asked what they learned during the process, both said they got quite an education on how the federal government operates, with Meadows admitting she was “a little naïve about the decision-making process” when it comes to mandates.
Her most important takeaway, however, was in realizing that when it comes to patient safety, leaders from all sectors of healthcare — including pharmaceuticals, government agencies, and insurance — share her same passion. And by speaking with representatives from medical device companies, she realized that “they have some large issues they have to address, and it’s not as easy as just sending a patch.” The entire experience was “eye-opening,” said Meadows, who no doubt provided some valuable perspectives drawing from her background in nursing.
For Finn, having that kind of diversity across the board made for “compelling” discussions. It also enabled the Task Force to break down action items into a number of specific areas, which he believes will help leaders more effectively prioritize tasks.
Had the panel not taken the time to meet in person (which they did, several times), they may not have been able to incorporate input from two dozen industry leaders into the recommendations. It’s precisely why some of the most successful people in the world have touted the value of face-to-face meetings, whether they happen while sitting around a conference table, or sharing views of a ballpark.
Michael Massari, Senior VP at Caesars Entertainment, believes in-person interactions are “still the most effective way to capture the attention of participants, engage them in the conversation, and drive productive collaboration,” he said in an interview. And in fact, “if we don’t continue to nurture strong and positive personal relationships with our clients and coworkers, we won’t build trust, understanding, or a sense of a shared mission—all of which are critical elements to successful partnerships and business success.”
I dare anyone to give that statement the Bronx cheer.