The Year in Business, Educational and Financial History

7 Jan – The first commercial bank in the United States, the Bank of North America, opened for business (1782).

16 Jan – The Pope appointed the Medici family as the official bankers of the Papacy (1412).

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Discovery and Innovation in the Business of Health Care

How can you do something that you have never done, or discover something that no one has ever known? Read below for some help. 

Discovering things previously unknown is one of the most important, and most enjoyable, things that anyone can do. Most people do it every day, whether as simple as finding a new restaurant they love or discovering a new comet in the heavens. Fundamentally, new discoveries come from observation, analysis, and experimentation. A husband looking for a new restaurant to try with his wife might observe something that in his experience resembles a restaurant on a street corner. He then analyzes the available information to decide if he wants to try it; what kind of food they, the opening hours, and whether it is clean and inviting. Finally he and his wife try it out, completing the process of discovery.

New discoveries are often far more difficult than finding a great new place to eat. Identifying a new comet can require expensive equipment and uncommon expertise, while sequencing the human genome, learning about subatomic particles or curing cancer are some of the slowest and most resource intensive discoveries of all. The discovery that smoking causes lung cancer followed the same observation-analysis-experimentation sequence. In the 1930s a few surgeons noticed that they seemed to be performing lung cancer surgeries on a lot of smokers. Some published their observations and that induced others to analyze the existing information and hypothesize that smoking is associated with lung cancer. Researchers then developed experiments to test the hypothesis and in 1956 the British Doctors Study provided the first convincing evidence that smoking increased the risk of lung cancer.

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Formal Business Visits and Town Halls

How to have the most effective visits to outlying sections in your business, and how to have the most effective town hall meetings with stakeholders.  

Management gurus since the 1970s have taught leaders to “manage by walking around (MBWA)”; getting out of the office and into the workplace to see for themselves what was going on in their organization. It is a very old idea. Generals such as Napoleon Bonaparte and business tycoons such as Henry Ford were legendary for getting first-hand information about their organization and its environment, but MBWA has been around since before Moses walked among the people of Israel during the Exodus (c. 1400 BC).

Most MBWA is informal, with the boss walking from department to department or store to store, meeting people, talking, and most importantly listening to them. There are times, however, when leaders need to interact with their organizations and with other organizations more formally. My leadership team in the Joint Task Force – National Capital Medicine (later National Capital Region Medical Directorate (NCRMD), part of the Defense Health Agency), routinely met with leaders and workers at military hospitals and clinics throughout our market. We also visited Federal Facilities such as the Veteran’s Administration, and major regional partners including the hospitals and clinics of the Johns Hopkins, Medstar and INOVA systems. Sometimes formal trips to universities and other non-medical facilities were required, and often my team and I addressed groups of stakeholders in a town hall or public forum.

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