There is nothing as difficult and as expensive, but also nothing as futile, as trying to keep a corpse from stinking.

Without systematic and purposeful abandonment, an organization will be overtaken by events. It will squander its best resources on things it should never have been doing or should no longer do. As a result, it will lack the resources, especially capable people, needed to exploit the opportunities that arise. Far too few businesses are willing to slough off yesterday, and as a result, far too few have resources available for tomorrow.

ACTION POINT: Stop squandering resources on obsolete business and free up your capable people to take advantage of new opportunities. --Peter Drucker, Managing in a Time of Great Change

2014 is here! The year is starting a bit rough for me and I am going to blame it on the Minnesota temperatures and the unanticipated loss of my 23-year-old cat.

For those of you who read this month's View in Trends magazine, we are going to work together, yet independently (I'm calling it convergent business evolution) on the economic health and vitality of our practices over the year. As we do this, if any of you come across helpful information, please post it in the comments for others to utilize.

During the month of January, we are going to be taking a global look at our practices with a brief review of things done in the past and an evaluation of successes and failures. Along with that, we will be planning on what we will emphasize for the remainder of the year. We are not going to save the world with our convergent business evolution, but we will move the needle in a positive direction in each of our hospitals and clinics.


Recommitment exercise
Ask each staff member to write at least one paragraph on each of the following:
1. What they perceive to be the vision of the hospital
2. Their personal vision and how it fits within the hospital vision
3. How they plan to recommit to the hospital, staff, clients, patients, and community for the year 2014

This is an excellent exercise to help get a feel for the culture of your enterprise and how people connect with it. A recommitment ceremony helps people refocus on why they chose their profession and what makes them passionate about their work.

Bring all of yourself to work
I believe one of the biggest mistakes we make in our businesses is not allowing our personal lives into the work conversation. You cannot simply leave your personal self at the door when you step into the workplace. It is critical to acknowledge AT work that things happen OUTSIDE of work. They can be good, neutral, or even bad, and they are almost all impactful on the workplace. Allowing yourself and your staff members to have a discussion about outside work stuff goes a long way in making your work environment more humane and far less toxic. There will be a lot of further discussions on how to do this graciously and without causing turmoil.

By doing this, you will understand where your staff fits in to the practice. Because life will continue chugging along while we are doing our global business plan, it makes sense to know as much as possible, as everyone's personal life may impact the hospital's success and vision. In small businesses, such as ours, it doesn't take very many people to upset the delicate balance between profitability and eeking out the bills, so it is far better to know ahead of time than be unpleasantly unplanned and surprised.

Personal life events calendar
Have the staff fill out a yearly calendar of all the known events that they will need time off from work. Even though it won't be perfect, just knowing what is most likely to occur makes it easier to plan your budget over the year. So, for example, if August is usually your biggest income-producing month, and one-third of your staff is out for weddings, you need to figure out how to make up that money in other months.

At Pet Crossing, we will have four weddings in 2014; three of us have parents who will likely pass away this year, as they have cancers with very poor prognoses; three staffers are applying to vet school; three families have parents who are in need of increased caregiving; two people (thus far, as it seems contagious) have imbibed the tonic that causes pregnancy; the first quarter I will still be working on AAHA commitments; one doctor, who we adore, has her eyes set on a different state when her husband finishes graduate school; and an office manager, who actually believes one should retire once the age of social security imbursement has been reached. Four of our staff members are in school nearly full time. This is what I know is happening with our work force of 16!

You have a week to do the above exercises and then we will move on to the next steps of our plan.

Here's to a wonderful 2014!

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