November 11, 2009, Veterans Day.... I am sitting in Peets Coffee in Lexington, MA - home of of the American Revolution. The local town parade to remember Veterans' just finished and the coffee hub is now filled up with people getting cozy and hanging out to sip their coffee while taking time out to connect with friends.
This morning I am having a growing sense of contentment because I am experiencing more conversations within the WorkEcology Community of Practice as forming into actual activities of applied learning. The colleagues in this community that I most respect, are filtering into practice the thought leadership that has woven into WorkEcology. They are weaving our thinking into an incubator of action that will fulfill my vision to lead change for health, environment and economic sustainability.
I began my morning with a brief phone call with Geoff Teed, Founding partner and President of Paradigm Physician Partners, LLC. Geoff first contacted me through his reading of my entries on the Hospital Impact Blog. He then read the current site for WorkEcology cover to cover and contacted Jeffrey Pfeffer, Karen Stephenson, Nick Jacobs, who all referred Geoff to me. This morning, Geoff called to tell me he is reading Kleiner's - Age of Heretic and got to thinking about why are these kind of projects so difficult to get of the ground and why so many fail.
As Geoff and his colleagues get closer to closing on the purchase of hospitals in Connecticut and New Jersey, he continues to think about what has to be done to influence change in these hospitals. While reading the Age of Heretic, Geoff began to think about,
"Why do most innovative projects sometimes begun by Heretics fail?" I did not have the time to really answer this question or explore it in conversation of more depth. To have a conversation like this I have to create an environment where I can create a container for a dialogue learning to foster a culture of change.
Geoff like most hospital executives is buried with a ground swell of information and stories of what people do and what that means, I could not even begin to answer his question about why most innovative projects fail? The kind of questions he is asking requires days, months, and years of Appreciative Inquiry, Scenario Planning and Briefings.
I would have also framed his question to build inquir this way, " Why do most heretics fail to build a environment of consensus in learning so that change does not come from top down?"
In my experience, the answers to questions like these have to grow out of a group of people who select to build a culture of .
through a deliberate design and pattern of events and education to spark a culture of change.
Heretic that succeed fit a profile in Chapter 1 of Art Kleiner's book. Art describes heretics as people who
- "are basically good at heart; they are fundamentally trustworthy. Only workplaces that give their members the chance to learn and add value through their work will succeed in the long run.
They aim for quality of work, and money will follow."
This implies thought and action and the building of collaboration that most top down institutions and economic decisions makers do not know how to factor into performance while leading a culture of change that grows from a value for shared learning.
Through out my career, I have moved through years of working with leaders in a trusted social network alternated with working in organizations where a social network lost the most important leg needed in any learning organization. This leg is the leg of economic responsibility where the Core Group of economic decisions makers organizes its financial system to support learning to assure that assets of knowledge are built within the organization that sustain a culture of trust and profit.
I have to admit right now in terms of hospital management in the US, I am puzzled to read posts in blogs that report increased hospital profit like this post in Fierce IT, Hospital Profits Shoot Upward between Q3 2008 and Q2 2009. This report summarizes a study by Thomson Reuters of 400 hospitals during a time of economic collapse in the United States in an industry where trust is on the decline.
When I completed reading this post, I asked myself, "How and when will US hospitals invest in innovation and learning that responds to the challenges of today? Or will the hospital industry continue to manage for growing profits and continue to lose the trust of the market/consumer/patient and feed the growing health care crisis in America?
The current WorkEcology website, developed in 2003, sparked the formation of a personal network of close associates from around the world where I have been weaving this culture of learning and trust. It is possible the greatest trust has grown between me and people I have the least contact with because they read all I write and when we take the time to converse, every conversation grows into a conversation that matters and weaves another step of learning and application that is building WorkEcology as an applied learning community. A variety of projects that I have begun in the last 5 years are now growing into sturdy activities with prospects of funding.
The new WorkEcology portal is 70% built. I am currently engaged in raising $30-50K of investment to launch this portal to full capacity and create a design for the initial member driven projects which will be organized on private subscribed blog infrastructure tied to learning communities that are taking form in Australia, Scotland and Scandanavia.
I hope we can break ground in the United States by early 2010. I continue to talk to leaders in my network, who continue to report to me obstacles and barriers to launching projects of innovation in networks where decisions makers are holding on to cash and profit tightly and not investing, e.g. hospitals and bio-pharm.
Maybe the pain in the US Economy has not yet achieved the level of pain needed to open the door to change. I would like to believe this is not true.
In recent weeks, I have much to celebrate with active members of this community of practice and the conversation we have synthesized.
1. Russ Volckmann, a former health care practice leader specializing in OD at Kaiser Permanente, appeared at my Linkedin.com Dashboard. The bits and bytes we speak today grew out of a leadership inquiry group I organized in Silicon Valley between 1992-93 which inspired my learning. Russ is now the publisher and founder of Integral Leadership Review and has accepted my first reflection, The Audubon Reflection on culture of change a new educational format. It will appear as a "note from the field in the IRL issue for January 2010.
2. Work with the Advisory Board for the IGI Global Medical Text Book, User Driven Health and Narrative Medicine has progressed very positively. This group is led by Dr. Rakesh Biswas.
Last week, I authored a letter to members of the advisory board and others in the WorkEcology community of practice. This is a modified version of that letter:
Dear Rakesh, et al,
(members of the IGI Medical Text Book Advisory Board).
Gary Flomenhoft, who informally advises me from University of Vermont, Gund Institute and gave me the council from which to write the Open Letter to Hazel Henderson, has suggested I look to this community, Foot Print Network launched by Yoshi Wada in Japan as a way to benchmark and measure the power an ecological footprint for WorkEcology.
This system of thought could be powerful for integrating into thought leadership for our text book IGI Global Text Book on Narrative Medicine . If you look at the list of distinguished scholars on the Footprint Network Advisory Council
for this network, it should be clear at the talent of thought that includes Karl-Henrik Robert who is a physician in Internal Medicine associated with the Karolinska Institute and founder of Sweden's Natural Step;.
Many others on this board are advisors and remarkable researchers and thought leadership within Hazel Henderson's network that supports the thought leadership of EthicalMarkets.com.
All this network is strongly tied to the Earth Charter authors who developed this charter in the context of the the Precautionary Principle.
I believe that access as defined at this time related to 3rd world countries, e.g. India is starting to have similar parallels in the Western World, at least in the United State. In my dialogue with Priyank Jain, M.D., we discussed that as part of the patient story re: access, many people in India and US have the same dilemma of losing control to seek the health they want blind to not knowing how the expense of their care will either push them to poverty or push them to appear negligent because they do not have the financial resources to support their care.
This is very key to my view of the necessity of the WECare Health Metric focus for research and why I want to launch a professional association of ecologist drawn from many professions to define health beyond health care. I believe the Narrative Medicine Text book can be a beginning to launch some hints as to this system of thought. I am having valuable learning from my investigation with the health scenarios I have summarized for the chapter of the book that I am writing.
These scenario's have interesting implications for the development and structure of the WorkEcology Portal and WorkEcology Notebook for Personal Sustainability (on line) and how we link to our channels for the new economy, e.g. EthicalMarkest.com, etc. as portrayed on this mock up home page.
This also has remarkable implications for the members of Eileen O'Connor's network through the Radiation Research Trust. I believe launching our professional association and drawing people to the association outside the practice of medicine skilled in defining an ecological economic footprint is as critical as creating this association for clinicians practicing medicine.
I am going to present this concept within my proposal to present at the 2010 International Conference in Germany for International Society for Ecological Economics as an argument for this practice to be integrated in a format that creates a hub and intersection for health care, commercial industry (biopharm and manufacturing) and government.
Within hours, I got a response from Olle Johansson, M.D. of Karolinska Institute in Sweden, endorsing the timeliness of formulating an ethical foot print for health.
Rakesh Biswas, M.D.
from Bhopal, India followed Olle's remark with a decision to pull together an international book on the Health and Medicine's Ethical Footprint. I will as Senior Editor, begin conferring with our network when the Advisory Group has completed production of the current text book for IGI and we followup on grant and possible corporate sponsors to launch a new professional association to educate people in all health professions on creating a more Ecological Basis for Patient Centric Care.
4. From the field, in Scotland... Alec Fraher
reports that he is now working with the Scotland National Health Service to formulate a culture of change for that practice that measures new WeCareHealth Metrics. Lilly Evans
is preparing her thoughts on providing a program for the leaders of this community to unleash their creative energy, while Alec continues to synthesize the practice of today and build conditions for scenario planning.
In Sydney, Australia....Bernie Kelly
is formulating a new strategy and educational forum with Andrew Stewart, of Intelog Health Care Performance Group.
The momentum continues to build...Stay tuned.
Cheers,Lavinia Gene Weissman
Founder, WorkEcology Community of Practice
CEO, Brilliant Minds, Sweet Hearts