View From the Board
Innovate to Accelerate
Written By: Rich Madsen
Prominently placed on my antique roll-top desk in my home office is a plaque given to me by my father, displaying the words, if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got.
These golden words of wisdom have been attributed to various entrepreneurs, scientists, philosophers, and life and business strategists, including Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company and the first moving assembly line; Albert Einstein, famous for his theory of relativity that revolutionized our understanding of space, time, gravity, and the universe; Mark Twain, the American writer, humorist, and entrepreneur; and even Tony Robbins, the motivational speaker and author of Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within. Notwithstanding such attributions, the earliest reference to authorship of these words is to Jessie Potter, an educator and author on relationships.
Regardless of the origin of this quote, the point it makes is what matters most – if you want to change the end result, you need to change the way you do things. This applies to individuals in their personal lives, as well as to businesses. We should be constantly evaluating why we do the things we do. What makes our company unique? Why do certain customers seek out our goods or services? What do we offer that sets us apart from our competition?
If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got.
I recently listened to a motivational discourse entitled Eyes to See by Michelle D. Craig, a literacy tutor and school support volunteer for a national education foundation. Craig quoted David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, who said, “Many of society’s great problems flow from people not feeling seen and known . . . [There is a] core . . . trait that we all have to get . . . better at[, and that] is the trait of seeing each other deeply and being deeply seen.” This quote came from a David Brooks address entitled Finding the Road to Character. In that address, Brooks presents his ideas on the “lies of meritocracy.” Meritocracy is a system, organization, or society that is based on success through ‘individual’ power, influence, demonstrated abilities, and merit. Brooks suggests that the societal lies associated with meritocracy are such things as “career success makes you happy,” “life is an individual journey,” “you can create your own truth,” and “people who have achieved more are worth more than other people.”
Perhaps he is right when he says that paying too much attention to the lies of meritocracy throughout our lives and careers creates misguided desires of reputation, power, time idolization, or the value of productivity over people.
Complacency in business and in life, while comfortable, guarantees no shift, no change, no increase, and no growth.
Med One’s mission of making medical equipment available to save lives moves beyond the lies of meritocracy and instead creates a community. This is done through the “eyes of seeing each other deeply and being deeply seen,” as so many of the COVID-19 healthcare providers have done and continue to do. Many of our societal problems, which have become increasingly evident during this global pandemic, are rooted in an inability to really see and know people or to truly understand each other. I have had the opportunity to personally witness story after story of Med One employees knowing their customers deeply, knowing the importance of critical care equipment, and seeing, hearing, and understanding their customers. Ultimately, the healthcare industry is made up of people and entities, manufacturers, vendors, distributors, suppliers, providers of urgent and critical healthcare, hospitals, and patients in need of life-saving equipment and care. This is our community – a community where we strive to know and understand each other deeply.
Now, what will the post-COVID-19 paradigm look like? There simply is no going back to normal, and this certainly is not the new normal. So, will we be able to do things differently and, therefore, get different results? How will the healthcare industry recover and redesign their businesses?
An Einstein quote, which is typically attributed to him and no other, is that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. When confronted with a problem, or when dissatisfied with an outcome, what do you do? What have you always done? Every business wants to be better, to be more effective, more productive, and more profitable. Nevertheless, many of us who want to improve simply continue to do the same things we’ve always done and just hope for a different result – pure insanity. Complacency in business and in life, while comfortable, guarantees no shift, no change, no increase, and no growth.
If you want to improve your business, you can’t continue to operate as you have in the past. You need to innovate and move beyond just the fundamentals. Don’t get stuck. The world is constantly changing, continually evolving, and opportunities are always appearing. Einstein’s outstanding creativity and ability to see the world differently made him one of the greatest thinkers of all time. Question your assumptions and dare to see the world differently – use your Einstein Eyes to See. He is credited with saying Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. Perhaps we just need to make sufficient change to find our successful element. Einstein is also quoted as saying that everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
Without organizational culture shifts, we find stagnation – or complacent mediocrity. I suppose we all find some comfort in knowing what to expect and the proven processes to reach those expectations. It is comfortable to know what is always waiting for us at the end of the path. And, while there may be safety in predictability – the same income, the same expenses, the same returns for the same line of work – in order to reach new heights, the proverbial next level, to be able to see what is over the horizon, sometimes you simply have to switch it up, innovate, and get out of the rut. Innovation can be game-changing, yet some of the largest roadblocks are cultural roadblocks to change.
What am I doing that I should stop doing? And, what am I not doing that I should start doing?
Sometimes, behaviors, values, and unwritten rules within an organization are no longer the so-called best practices. Eliminating boundaries, breaking through obstacles, taking calculated risks, and stepping out of your comfort zone leads to innovation. How do we improve the end result without a change in the process? The answer is, quite simply, we can’t. Changing the process is not easy, but with careful and sustained planning that allows for change and adaptation, the implementation of innovative and successful processes takes place. If we want to see and understand more deeply, achieve greater successes and profitability, we need to get out of our comfort zones. I encourage you to embrace change, to set goals, to take time to plan, to communicate frequently during the process, to welcome feedback, to adjust the plan when necessary, and to have eyes to see both the obstacle and the required change to break through and see success.
In her Eyes to See discourse, Craig suggests that we frequently consider asking ourselves, and our organizations, the following two questions: What am I doing that I should stop doing? And, what am I not doing that I should start doing? Is there something you should start doing or even stop doing in order to achieve different results? You can’t continue in the same complacent way and expect change to surreptitiously come. Get to know those around you deeply, see people, allow them to see you, strive to understand their obstacles, and allow each other to break through with successful change. Take the measures that must be taken to evolve, to change, to add a new variable to the equation, and to get un-stuck.
A common Med One value is that Med One does one thing very well – whatever it takes. This is innovation, an adaptable, flexible, and nimble discipline – a scientific management style of being open to change and modification, of seeing and knowing deeply, being open to doing what works for a given situation, to reviewing and evaluating processes, to implementing change, and to seeing the results of courageous change. Remember, if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got.
Prev Article Next Article