Allen was a doctor and hospital administrator in Houston for 24 years before he came to Columbus. While he thought he would finish his career there, during the search process he became enamored with Nationwide Children’s mission and the support it enjoyed from the community.
A decade later, he spends a fair bit of time recruiting other people to come to Columbus and every time tells them: “I know what it’s like to be in a good place and not have a need to move, but I thought that this was a good job when I took it and I grossly underestimated the potential and opportunity that existed here.”
While he still views everything from the perspective of a physician, since that’s what he did for most of his adult life, Allen’s role as a manager requires something else.
The main job of management is to try to figure out what direction or directions the organization needs to go. He says you’re going to be right some of the time, and you’re going to be wrong some of the time.
You can use metrics to help with the decision-making and see if you’re making progress in the areas you’ve chosen, but it’s important to not let any mistakes get to you.
Management also needs to articulate a compelling vision for the future of the organization, Allen says.
“The way that you lead isn’t by telling people what to do, it’s by inspiring them with a compelling vision,” he says. “I think that’s just been a really important lesson for me, one that I try to pass on to other physicians who think about going into management.”
In order to be a disruptor and lead the industry, it’s also important to make strategic planning fun and exciting, while involving a lot of stakeholders.
“We have a process by which we involve many different stakeholders within the hospital at all different levels to get their input and make sure that everybody has had a chance to say and give their perspective on it,” he says. “So that, by the time that we come up with a final plan, there’s general buy in.”
This might slow the initial planning down a little, but it’s worth it.
“We usually set aside several months to do this, and I think it pays off to have that type of broad input from an organization like ours,” Allen says. “It requires some organizational skill on the part of the planning department, but I think it certainly more than pays itself off in how things get executed over time.”