“We’re in that generation that is now caring for our parents,” says Gilmartin, president and CEO of Sunrise, Fla.-based Interim HealthCare Inc., the nation’s oldest health care franchisor. “And I see the technology driving a lot of care that will be. You’ve got this whole surge of baby boomers that are going to demand more [health] care at home…They’re going to be driving a lot of policy and insurers by being incented and motivated to do more care at home.”

Health care can now be delivered in the home easier than ever before, thanks to advancing technology and a growing demand for health care services. But the rise in the demand for home health care also places significant pressure on home care providers such as Interim HealthCare, which must continually adapt on both fronts in order to stay competitive and effectively serve a new generation of clients with diverse needs.

“The challenge over the last four years is the speed of change,” Gilmartin says. “We’re in an industry that is changing very quickly — home care, personal care, hospice and health care staffing. Pick one. There have certainly been changes in any one of those areas of our business.

“It puts a lot more on providers to accelerate what they’re doing. It isn’t a time to say, ‘We’re just fine the way we are.’ It’s going to be a case of, ‘We’ve got to do more and probably do it at a faster clip.’”

Since rejoining Interim HealthCare in 2008 — she first left the company when split off from a larger health care entity in 1997 — Gilmartin has worked on positioning the company and its network of 300 franchised locations in 43 states at the forefront of the home care evolution. Here’s how she is doing it.

Avoid ‘vision creep’

When Gilmartin came on as CEO in 2008, Interim HealthCare was in the process of transitioning to a 100 percent franchised company. The change came as company leaders looked for a way to streamline the focus on supporting franchises. Eventually, that meant doing away with all of the company-owned locations.

Founded in 1966, Interim HealthCare is the only home care franchisor with a model that delivers health care services from personal care and support to hospice services. This involves a broad spectrum of business areas. So as the company shifted to a 100 percent franchised model, Gilmartin also discovered a number of business lines that no longer made sense under the new model.

“It’s not unusual when you have companies that have close to 50 years of history that they start out and they grow, and as they grow, things get a little bit more complex and spread out,” Gilmartin says.

“You think that you’re focused on something, but you don’t realize that other things have sort of grown up inside of that. Sometimes they’re on the periphery. Sometimes they’ve been there so long that you get a scotoma, where you just don’t see what’s right in front of you. You have a blind spot to it.”

Gilmartin calls this “the vision creep.” What begins as a small investment gradually takes up more and more support, resources or time. Over years or decades, it may even start to take away resources from critical areas of business.

Innovation, while beneficial, can be one of the biggest culprits of vision creep. The same muscles that lead you to innovate can send you in directions that cause your company to stray from its core strengths. For example, investing in innovation led Interim HealthCare to develop its own IT system and a technology platform geared specifically for delivering home health care services. But Gilmartin and the company’s leaders soon found that an IT operation was an unjustified cost.

“We don’t have the DNA of being an IT company,” Gilmartin says. “We have the DNA of providing health care services in the home and providing health care personnel to facilities that need them.”

Instead of funding a whole division to support its IT platform, Gilmartin and her team decided it was a better investment to find a partner to handle its IT. In 2011, the company handed off the division to health care IT firm Procura for continued development.

“That care and feeding is probably being sacrificed from something else,” Gilmartin says. “So you always have to be sure that you look yourself in the eye and say, ‘This is our primary focus. This is what we do best. This is what we want to be doing for our constituents and stakeholders.’ Anything that doesn’t fit in that picture you have to be willing to say the time has come.”

The same went for the other “clutter” accumulated under the old model. Before long, Gilmartin was able to find homes for all of the business lines that weren’t synergistic with the 100 percent franchised structure.

One way to spot vision creep is by constantly asking, “Am I getting the best output in all areas?” or, “Are we getting the results we want?” If you’re not hitting on all cylinders, you need to step back and do some mining with your management team, board and equity partners, Gilmartin says.

When you are able to have those difficult conversations and to look objectively at each area of your business, you free yourself to bring even more leverage to your core competencies.

“You suddenly have this renewed energy, and you feel like, ‘Oh my goodness, we have more resources than we thought because some were being diverted or distracted getting these projects done,” Gilmartin says.

“It was being able to take the clutter out of the picture so that you see very clearly who you are, what your mission and purpose is and what is ultimately our ‘hedgehog,’ which [for us] is knowing that we want to be the most successful ‘continuum of care’ franchisor.”

Lay down a path

In most industries, it’s not enough anymore to respond to the market. Leaders of great companies don’t just evaluate change; they are in a regular cycle of changing all the time, always asking “What’s coming next?”

However, the key to driving proactive change across a large organization — Interim HealthCare employs more than 40,000 health care workers — is to balance the urgency of wanting to see change happen with the patience of recognizing that some changes take time to spread and be adopted by employees.

“Like a Rubik’s Cube — it would be one of those mental challenges of how do you keep the moving pieces and how do you get them to be at the right place at the right time?” Gilmartin says.

“Do franchisees have the information? Are we training them? Do they have the support? When I think of what makes this business tick and be successful, it’s people, but it’s people across a number of moving pieces.”

Essentially, the nature of care at home is that it’s a very personal service. Yet much has changed in the way that service is delivered. Ten years ago, there was no automation. But today, health care providers use point-of-care devices such as tablets, laptops and smartphones to capture patient interactions and electronic data in real time. This emerging technology is also a valuable tool for leaders such as Gilmartin to help drive change at all levels of their organizations.

In addition to traveling year-round to visit different franchise locations, which includes home care visits with nurses and meetings at the franchise and regional level, Gilmartin utilizes technology to stay connected and to find out what staff and management need to be successful, whether it’s training, support or technology resources.

“Every stakeholder has a nugget of wisdom or inspiration that leaders need to constantly be gathering,” Gilmartin says. “I sometimes look at our key leader group or key franchise group and think that the loudest and the biggest have it all right. But what I’ve done a better job of, and every leader can do better, is to communicate more and use lots of media in how you communicate … using the technologies of email and Skype and FaceTime but also including more voices that help shape the future rather than fewer voices.”

Once you have a clear destination in mind, making progress comes down to working closely with members of your team to get there.

“Some groups may have been doing certain pieces of health care for 20 years, but they recognize now that they have patients who require services that they haven’t done and would like to,” Gilmartin says. “We will train them in that and bring them through all the additional certification, training, hiring and actual management of how to do that business … so they can do it just as well as they’ve done all the other parts of the franchise.

“If you’re true to what the core of your company is, you’ll always be innovating better processes, better programs and, in our case, go to the next level of care delivery,” Gilmartin says. “That’s what has to be continually inspired and perspired, because there is a lot of sweat that goes with change.”

Helping its franchises continually adapt and grow has continued to pay off for Interim HealthCare. In 2011, the company generated $740 million of network revenue while maintaining one of the highest employee retention records in the industry — its average employee tenure is 18 years.

“People often think of return on investment first as financial, but there are also stakeholders of our patients and our caregivers and our management team — all of the people who work in our individual franchises,” Gilmartin says. “It’s taking those three circles, and if you bring those together, you can crystallize where those overlap and that keeps you focused. It keeps you rooted in, ‘Is every initiative we’re doing helping reinforce that?’ And success is the result.” ?

How to reach: Interim Healthcare Inc., (800) 338-7786 or www.interimhealthcare.com


The Gilmartin File

Kathleen Gilmartin

President and CEO

Interim Healthcare Inc.

Born: Buffalo, N.Y.

Education: D’Youville College

What do traits you look for in an employee?

There are many things you can overcome with training and knowledge, but if people don’t have the right caring and have a leaning to ‘I want to be in this business because I like health care and I choose health care to apply my business skills to’ — it’s not a right fit for everybody. I can tell you from new franchise development we’ve had franchise prospects come in and they are genuinely nice people. By the time we’re meeting them we’ve had a phone relationship, they’ve gone through initial screening, they’ve done homework; but there are times where we have the discovery day to meet us … they don’t necessarily recognize that caring for people is a 24/7 commitment. It includes holidays. It includes vacations.

What’s next for Interim HealthCare?

I see us being in a real growth mode because we’ve clarified we’re 100 percent franchised. We’ve got new franchises that we’re back selling and starting and feeding the forest in places where we haven’t had franchises. We have some very, very large franchises that have been building their infrastructure and working on management and succession planning because the business is getting bigger and more complex. I think home care has come of age.

If you could have dinner with one person you’ve never met, who would it be and why?

That’s easy, Bill Gates. He spent three decades creating products and services at Microsoft that changed how we operate businesses and manage our lives. Then he put his creativity and capital to work to eradicate disease in Africa and other parts of the globe. It would be a fascinating dinner to pick his brain and learn what makes him tick.

What do you to regroup on a tough day?

In any leadership role you have incredibly high days and rock bottom low days. The key is to keep the mental snapshots of the great days front and center so you don’t lose focus or faith on the bad days. The bookcase in my office also has photos I love of my family and friends to remind me not to take myself too seriously.

Published in Florida

Doug Parris and A.J. Montero never get tired of change. They have to deal with it every day with their clients and employees.

It’s not the kind of change that involves turnover in either of those areas or new ownership or new policies. Rather, it’s eating, sleeping and breathing the company culture built around change.

As leaders and partners of the Columbus office of global architecture and design firm NBBJ, Parris and Montero, both partners in the firm, focus on transforming their clients’ enterprises through design. Spearheading that effort requires one of the standards of management: leading by example.

“If we, A.J. and myself, and our other 15 partners don’t live our culture every day, then we are not setting the example for the staff,” Parris says. “Part of living it is communicating it and always making sure it’s at the top of everyone’s thoughts as they work with our clients.”

“Everyone” includes the 135 employees of the $52 million Columbus branch of the worldwide company.

It’s a given that change comes with the territory of the architecture and design field. Not long ago, blueprints were drawn by hand. Today, 3-D drawings sketched by computer programs are the norm. With such advances that have been made in that step, it’s only natural that the best chance to boost a company’s success is to stress to clients that if they are interested in a new building or remodeling project, they should couple it with a new and different culture.

“Design often requires cultural change within an organization — how do we make it easy for the client’s staff and employees to transition from one environment to another and basically embrace the cultural changes that are required?” Parris says.

Here are some ways eating, sleeping and breathing change all fall into place at the Columbus office of the nation’s third-largest architecture firm so that it is not feared but desired and enables the company to reach new levels of success.

Find a shoe that fits

As simplistic as it sounds, the road to the highest potential often starts with a good fit between parties — be it designer and client, supplier and client, or consultant and client.

Obviously, you should avoid ones that don’t look like a good fit. You may save yourself from a possible problem client who will wear you out, avoid a reputation hit if you can’t deliver on your promises and be able to exploit your niche better by declining someone from outside your specialty.

A system to evaluate clients is often beneficial. You should check references and compare what types of work or what other companies with which your target has dealt.

“We have a system internal to NBBJ that we use to look at potential clients and see whether or not they align with our values,” Montero says. “Having that filter very early lets us see clients that are trying to transform themselves. We see clients that understand that they want to go somewhere. That is a big first step.”

Again, don’t hesitate to be a little choosy.

“It’s not just looking at everybody who needs something to be done no matter what they’re after or what their model is, you are not judging. You are just saying that, in many cases, those are not clients for you,” he says.

This is the time to analyze the leadership and employees.

“One of the most important things that you see in terms of getting started is that they have the right leadership in place,” Parris says. “Leading a project is not a skill set that everyone comes to the table with.”

If you can categorize the participants in three types, it will give some insights to your potential partner.

“What we typically see is you have three levels of participants,” he says. “You’ll have the very top leadership in an organization. They need to be on the same page so that they have a clear kind of vision of what they need.

“Second, you have kind of a working group, the people that are responsible for getting things done every day to keep things moving forward and pushing information up the ladder to the leadership of whatever organization it is, whether it’s a corporation, a university or a hospital.

“Then you have the people that do the work, and they end up being the most critical to getting things done because you have to meet with them and understand how they do what they do,” Parris says. “A lot of times, one of the key elements of working with any organization is that they only know what they have been exposed to.”

Opening all their eyes to the bigger world out there, be it new office design, a new product to consider or a new practice to undertake, is very important. Many people only know the places where they have worked and the procedures they have been following.

Do some role-playing

One of the more effective ways to get a grip on what may need to change in your company culture involves some mental exercises. When undertaken, they often lead to some startling conclusions.

“We call it suspension of disbelief,” Montero says. “You try to open people’s minds to say, ‘OK, for a minute, let’s just pretend that we were in a different circumstance.’ We have role-playing exercises that allow us to really understand that world.

“If you take them out of it for a second and see what the possibilities are, no pressure, just being able to look at those things in a fresh way, whether or not they choose to go down that road, ultimately, is going to be up to them. But what we found more often than not is that when they go through an exercise of discovery, they find out that it isn’t as scary as they thought, that the change is really not going to be that dramatic.

“There are people who work in the trenches every day, who are really seeking change, and it opens the door for that communication between top-level leadership and the users that maybe didn’t exist before in their eyes, so that kind of engagement is really something to achieve,” Montero says.

“A good example is that you might make the CEO of a hospital role-play as one of his own patients and walk through the system or have the president of a university be a student for a day and walk in the student’s shoes,” Parris says. “I use something called ‘walk a mile in their shoes.’”

“When you design hospitals, you work with a lot of high-powered administrators and surgeons, especially, who have very strong opinions about the way things should or shouldn’t be done,” Montero says. “So they’re very well-educated; they have to run very important enterprises. So when we get into these types of role-playing exercises, they are meant to show how the way that you do something isn’t necessarily the way that it has to be forever.”

While the role-playing may sound like children’s fare, it is indeed often extremely helpful to open the mind to different ways of thinking.

“Most of the time, when you introduce something like that, you can just imagine going to the Cleveland Clinic and sitting down with the top people in the world when it comes to heart surgery, and you’re trying to propose doing something that almost seems frivolous,” he says.

“There may be a lot of pushback, but once you go through the exercise, you will be surprised how much they get into it.”

The effort to gain new insights really takes on a life of its own, Montero says, and brings engagement that is a distinctive plus.

“You have doctors and surgeons saying, ‘Well, based on that scenario, maybe we can create this device that is actually implemented in the ambulance as opposed to waiting for the patient to get to the hospital,” he says. “It’s that type of thinking outside the box that these role-playing exercises allow you to engage in. It’s a disarming environment that allows people to think creatively as opposed to the day-to-day grind that they usually are in.”

“Role-playing actually gets us and our clients into kind of a different persona so that they can see the world around them from a different perspective. And it’s actually a lot of fun,” Parris says.

In this pseudo-environment, people feel they can say what they think and don’t have to worry about making errors.

“You create an environment where you allow for mistakes to happen,” Montero says. “You allow for people to think up stupid ideas that you can discuss that sometimes actually become really interesting ideas.”

“Let people take risks,” Parris says. “Let people take chances to innovate and create new things. You can give people all the authority and responsibility in the world, but if there’s no room for them to grow, no open space there, they’re never going to achieve what they can achieve if that space doesn’t exist.”

Show empathy

Instituting change doesn’t come without problems. There is a point where leaders need to show empathy for talented performers who contribute to the organization but only can be pushed so far.

“In all honesty, there are people within our firm that say, ‘This is what I enjoy doing, and this is all I want to do. I love my work, so I don’t have an aspiration to do other things,’” Parris says. “We have to respect that also. We really have to make sure that we don’t push people beyond where they’re comfortable being pushed.

“Everyone has a tolerance for that kind of thing. So that’s the kind of empathetic leadership that you have to develop all around, the kind of diversity that we build because everybody is not the same.”

There is a very fine line between the creative culture and one that expounds dogma.

“You don’t want to be dogmatic about the things that you do,” Montero says. “You have to be empathetic that everyone brings something. And there’s a gradient in there — some people are much more conservative than others.”

A culture can be considered well-assimilated when the people with the right mix of skill sets, temperaments and expertise blend to make the machine work very well.

“But you can’t have everybody think the same way, even if it’s thinking creatively, because then you become very one-sided,” Montero says.

“The thing you have to guard against is being homogeneous,” Parris says. “It’s not just the diversity of people and skill sets, but it’s also diversity of thought that lends itself to greatness.

“That should apply to all businesses. In the design profession, no matter what you do whether you are an architect, a graphic designer, an interior designer or product designer, innovation comes from the ability to think in different lights. Otherwise everything will look the same and like a formula.”

Lest you tear up your book of formulas, think about uniqueness instead.

“In a lot of businesses, there are formulas,” Parris says. “If you’re making toothpaste that people buy, you’re not going to want to change that formula. In design, it’s not that way. They don’t want what you gave to the last guy. They want something that is uniquely theirs. That is an important part of that diverse thinking and not being too homogeneous within the office and the firm worldwide.”

“I think many professions are moving toward that idea that creativity and idea sharing, innovation — is a big impetus for what they do. We are finding more of that in all the different project types and professions that we touch.” <<

How to reach: NBBJ, (614) 224-7145 or www.nbbj.com

 The file

Doug Parris



A.J. Montero




Parris: Bremerton, Wash. I’m a Navy brat — born on a Navy base and moved around my whole life.

Montero: Havana, Cuba


Parris: I graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and have a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in architecture.

Montero: I have a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Cornell University.

What was your first job?

Parris: Digging and planting trees for a landscape company inFairfax,Va.I learned it was really hard work. Now they do it with machines. I had to do it with a shovel.

Montero: I think you’re going to find a pattern here. I worked in construction all throughout high school in south Florida. It was very hot, and it was very hard work. What I learned from it was that I never, ever wanted to do it again, which was one of the big reasons that I made sure that I went to college to get an education.

What was the best business advice you received?

Parris: Your career will be defined by the success of those around you. That came from one of our former partners.

Montero: I got some really great advice from a close family member: If you’re a cheese maker, then make cheese. What that means is if you’re good at something and you are passionate about it, really dedicate yourself to doing that and supporting others in that enterprise.

Whom do you admire in business?

Parris: I’m conflicted about it. I guess if I had to say historically whom I admire, it’s Frank Lloyd Wright because his passion and rigor around architecture are something that I’ve always respected. In a more contemporary sense, probably Steve Jobs because he had a kind of a boundless creativity — the ability to imagine or at least create an organization that could imagine what’s next.

Montero: I have a lot of respect for Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. The reason is not because of Facebook but because whatever he has created has influenced society in a positive and negative way. I think that Zuckerberg has been able to touch on something that is very, very relevant, that we can even put our fingers on, and I think that is the kind of definition of somebody who is a visionary.

What is your definition of success?

Parris: Transforming our clients’ enterprise through design. If we work with the client and the outcome has taken them from where they were to where they can be, it is really the definition of business success for us.

Montero: I look at that but more internally. I think that success for us is really creating a great culture where people can fulfill their professional and sometimes personal aspirations and goals. We want people to come into this building every day and feeling that they can change the world, that they can accomplish everything they want to accomplish and really make a difference. If we can provide them with that kind of environment, I think we will be a successful business.



Published in Columbus

A client called me in a heightened state of frustration. Her business group recently made major decisions regarding strategy and future direction. While she was enthusiastic about what lay ahead, her team members weren’t. They were exhibiting signs of dissatisfaction and sowing the seeds of subversion. She needed to act quickly, but she didn’t know how.

Without knowing anything more, I could already guess the root of the problem: the team hadn’t felt included in the strategy-level decision-making. As I dug deeper, my suspicions were confirmed. Leadership had a history of asking for input and then stifling open and honest dialogue.

Another client recently went through a major restructuring. In the process, the company left employees in the dark by failing to communicate what was happening and why. By the time the client called Bright Side, it was facing a debilitating backlash.

Whether it’s leadership consistently disregarding (or failing to solicit) employee feedback or neglecting to communicate significant changes — the result is always the same: Employees end up feeling disrespected and devalued. Resentment simmers and eventually boils over.

Don’t misunderstand me. I know that not every decision can be subject to employee feedback. But, all too often, leadership loses sight of the organization’s most valued asset: its people. With a single-minded focus on the bottom line, leaders make the mistake of treating employees like automatons rather than people.

In the rush of getting the job done, leaders must remember these core truths: All people want to feel valued and respected for the work they do, to know that their contributions matter and to feel heard. When we overlook these principles, employees become disheartened, discouraged and disengaged. One way or another, the discontent manifests itself and everyone suffers.

The solution is to stay connected. Stay connected to your employees daily by cultivating honest person-to-person (rather than person-to-object) relationships, where respect and communication are the cornerstones. Demonstrate through your words and your actions that you value their work, that their input matters and that you believe in transparency. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you won’t at times make decisions that they don’t agree with. It means that the conversation will have happened — they’ll have spoken, you’ll have listened, and no one will be in the dark.

Create opportunities daily to demonstrate that employee feedback is valued. How? For starters, listen more and talk less. A good way to do that is to ask more questions. If you don’t like what you hear, don’t get defensive. A defensive reaction will only shut the conversation down and signal that you aren’t really interested in what others have to say. Instead, ask more questions to clarify and don’t take disagreement personally.

Intentionally seek out viewpoints that are different than your own. If you only talk to people who agree with you or tell you what you want to hear, then you’ll create a false sense of reality.

Lastly, be transparent. I can’t emphasize this enough. So many problems arise when leaders fail to be transparent in their decision-making. Don’t leave people guessing about important matters that impact them.

Resolve to actively practice these behaviors in meetings and routine interactions. Ask team members to follow suit. By doing so, you’ll demonstrate your willingness to learn and to be engaged. Morale will improve and you’ll head off unnecessary revolts and insurrections.

Donna Rae Smith is a guest blogger for Smart Business. She is the founder and CEO of Bright Side Inc., a transformational change catalyst company that has partnered with more than 250 of the world’s most influential companies. For more information, please visit www.bright-side.com or contact Donna Rae Smith at donnarae@bright-side.com.

Published in Cleveland

To attract and retain top talent, it is critical for a company to have a strong benefits plan in place. In today’s uncertain environment, employee benefits represent a significant portion of the financial security employees are seeking, and they are demanding jobs in which those benefits meet their needs.

To ensure that employees are satisfied with your company’s current health care plan, it is important to solicit their feedback. Then, based on your findings, it may be time to consider searching for a plan that is a better fit for your employees.

“Companies should look at a number of benefit plans to determine if the designs and structures could better meet the needs of their work force,” says Stephen Slaga, chief marketing officer of Total Health Care.

Smart Business spoke with Slaga about how to identify the right provider for a business’s employee population and how to ensure a smooth transition when changing plans.

How can employers assess whether changing providers would benefit their company?

Typically, employers look at overall satisfaction with their current provider to determine if a change is needed. Cost, quality of coverage, accessibility, flexibility and the impact a change may bring both to the employer and the employees are some of the components that are measured to make this determination.

Seeking employee input is also important. For many employers, the No. 1 objective in offering benefits is to retain employees. However, those benefits must not only meet the needs of employees, they must also meet the monetary constraints of the employer.

Determining which carrier can provide the best care at the most efficient price and matching coverage options to what employees are looking for is critical. When possible, use benchmarking data to compare the offerings of different providers. Employers should also review coverage options and contribution strategies that their direct competitors are deploying.

Because the cost of benefits can have a large impact on employees’ paychecks, strong health care coverage and benefits are an important piece of the overall job package. In many cases, a small percentage difference in salary is secondary to the type of health care coverage available to employees.

What questions should an employer ask when seeking potential providers?

It is important to be thorough and to ask the right questions when searching for a potential provider. How many years has the provider been operating? Is it financially stable? What kind of reputation does it have? Inquire about the provider’s different types of benefit plan offerings and the service area. Also investigate historical rate trends in order to gain a better understanding of what to expect in terms of future premium increases.

Finally, be cognizant of customer service criteria. It could be worth the extra premium for the business owner to have the peace of mind of knowing that he or she is dealing with a reputable company that is looking out for the employees.

What common mistakes do employers make when changing providers?

Employers don’t always ask the right questions and, as a result, they may not fully understand the product they are purchasing. In the rush to implement a change in providers, employers sometimes do things that could result in the disruption of services to their employees.

Another common mistake is that employers assume that lower rates will equal a lower cost, which may not necessarily be true when they factor in the possibility of higher deductibles and coinsurance being passed on to their employees.


What steps can employers take to help ensure a smooth transition?

Make sure that adequate time is given to implement all changes when moving to a new provider. Communicate the changes to all employees and allow enough time so that any questions or concerns they have may be addressed. Conduct employee meetings to explain the changes and how they may impact employees. Also explain the overall value that employees are receiving by creating total benefit statements, which includes salary, benefits, workers’ compensation costs, vacation time, etc.

How can a benefits provider assist with the transition?

Transitioning to a new benefit provider requires significant planning. Employees should be told as early as possible about the changes and be provided with written benefit information explaining those changes. The benefits provider should conduct open enrollment meetings to answer any questions that employees may have. Benefit material should also be made available so that employees can review it on their own time.

How should the change be communicated to employees?

Communicating changes to employees requires adequate time and planning. The most common form of communication is done during the open enrollment season. Often, open enrollments are conducted and led by an agent or broker hired by employers to assist in administrating their employee health care benefits.

Benefit meetings should be scheduled around work so that employees are able to attend to ask questions about the new plan. Providing this education to employees is critical, and there are a number of ways to make information available, including health care plan websites, newsletters and direct mail pieces. Through the use of multipronged education programs, employees will have a better understanding of the changes, which results in better customer satisfaction.

Stephen Slaga is chief marketing officer of Total Health Care. Reach him at (313) 871-7810 or SSlaga@thc-online.com.

Insights Health Care is brought to you by Total Health Care

Published in Chicago
Monday, 01 October 2012 11:16

Leading the future of health care

There’s a revolution going on in health care, moving from a system of caring for the sick to improving each individual’s health and wellness. Today’s consumers are increasingly taking control of their health and collaborating as true members of health care teams — for the betterment of themselves and for their communities.

To learn more about these changes, Smart Business spoke with Diana Hendel, PharmD, the CEO of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Community Hospital Long Beach and Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach.

How is the transformation progressing?

A major goal of health reform is the ‘Triple Aim’ of improving the quality of care, reducing costs and enhancing the patient experience. Ensuring exceptional care means continually improving patient quality, safety and satisfaction, and engaging consumers in improving their health, wellness and lifestyle.

We realized decades ago the importance of creating a more scientific approach to improving medical outcomes and of becoming a national pioneer in best-practice, evidence-based medicine. In this area, physician-led interdisciplinary teams are able to identify, create, refine and expand upon the best diagnostic, treatment and prevention for virtually every disease, illness and medical category that a patient may face. Implementing optimal clinical standards across the health system helps us achieve patient outcomes that surpass both regional and national standards.

What is the role of technology and staff?

Our early adoption of electronic medical records supports and spreads evidence-based medicine throughout our health system to our more than 2,500 affiliated physicians and 11,000 employees. The results are higher quality and safer care with clinicians able to immediately access patient records. Electronic records in physician offices and other locations ensure coordinated, seamless care for all of MemorialCare. Plus increasing numbers of consumers adopting their own personal health records through patient portals translates into more people actively participating in their health care.

We are so proud to attract extraordinary physicians, nurses and other clinicians and support staff to MemorialCare. Our significant investment in state-of-the-art facilities and in the most sophisticated medical technologies — often the only such advanced facilities and equipment in the region — allows us to detect and treat the most complex and complicated diseases and conditions.

Is the community involved in the changes?

Members of the community are engaged with us in many ways. Screenings, health prevention and educational programs are offered at our hospitals, physician practices and outpatient centers, in the community, at worksites and schools and at memorialcare.org to help consumers to improve their health and wellness. The Patient and Family Advisory Councils at each hospital offer important advice and ideas on creating new programs and enhancing current services, helping to redesign key interactions by offering the ‘voice of the customer.’ And staff-led Partnership Councils collaborate on performance improvement and on patient experience projects.

Our Hourly Patient-Family Hospital Rounds supplement the patient care provided 24/7. Each hour, someone checks in on patients, ensuring that they are comfortable and their needs are being met, thus building trusting relationships. This enhances responses and communications among patients and their caregivers, resulting in less anxious patients and improved patient and family satisfaction.

Each week, the members of the leadership team ask patients about their care, learning first-hand how we are doing and ways staff can improve the hospital and the outpatient experience. Immediately following these interactions, team members huddle with staff — celebrating the positives, sharing feedback and opportunities to improve, discussing ideas and determining next steps.

What is the current status of population health management?

For years, we have provided programs that coordinate and improve care of children and of adults in the community. As the only campus in Los Angeles and Orange counties with adult and children’s hospitals in one location, we are able to offer lifetime care for those facing chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, orthopedic issues, asthma, and scores of other diseases and conditions, thus helping consumers to take control of their health and their lives.

Our Good Life program focuses on significantly improving the health and wellness of our own employees and of their families through fitness challenges, plus nutritious offerings and support for chronic conditions. The results-driven program is extended to local employers that tap our expertise to improve the health of their own work forces with onsite screenings and seminars, executive and employee physicals and more. MemorialCare also hosts programs to help employers adapt to health care reform, assist in trimming health benefits and health care costs, and in improving productivity.

All of these activities in the areas of best-practice, evidence-based medicine, advanced technologies, improving the patient experience, management of the health of the population and providing true value in health care have proven critical to the communities that MemorialCare serves. All of these efforts will continue to result in extraordinary quality, proven treatments and comprehensive care that are continually raising medical standards and ensure that MemorialCare remains a national leader in transforming health care.

Diana Hendel, PharmD, is CEO of Long Beach Memorial, Community Hospital Long Beach and Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach. The hospitals are part of MemorialCare Health System, a not-for-profit integrated health care delivery system that also includes Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente; MemorialCare Medical Group; Greater Newport Physicians, an Independent Practice Association (IPA); MemorialCare HealthExpress retail clinics; and numerous outpatient health centers throughout the Southland. For information, go to memorialcare.com.

Insights Health Care is brought to you by MemorialCare Health System

Published in Los Angeles

Scott Kirsner spent three years immersed in the movie industry in order to write a book called “Inventing the Movies: Hollywood’s Epic Battle Between Innovation and the Status Quo, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs.”

He talked with directors like Francis Ford Coppola and James Cameron, editors, cinematographers, studio chiefs, producers, tech companies that sell technology into Hollywood and even actors with an interest in new technology like Morgan Freeman.

He discovered that Hollywood serves as a great case study for how any long-established, successful and self-satisfied industry responds to new technologies and new ideas.

Even when a new idea seems to have obvious merit and even when its inventor can make a strong case for it, 95 percent of the people involved in the industry fight the new idea with all their energy for as long as they possibly can until they realize it has the potential to grow their business in surprising ways.

Case in point: Within a decade of Hollywood’s fight against the Betamax video recorder, which went all the way to the Supreme Court, the studios were earning more from home video business than they were from ticket sales.

Here are several movies — all of which you’ve likely seen — each with an important backstory that innovators can learn from.

Sometimes technology needs to be just good enough, not perfect. “The Jazz Singer” will forever be remembered as Hollywood’s first talkie — even though it wasn’t among the first dozen to try to sync up the pictures on the screen with a soundtrack. But the technology that Warner Bros. banked on, developed at AT&T’s Bell Labs, was better than what came before it. It was just good enough to turn “The Jazz Singer” into a hit — especially combined with a performance from Al Jolson that practically leapt off the screen. The system still relied on phonograph records that could scratch. If the film broke and needed to be spliced back together, the entire movie would veer out of sync. The Warner Bros./AT&T technology was just good enough to start the sound revolution in Hollywood, though it didn’t endure for very long as a standard. Five years after “The Jazz Singer,” even Warner Bros. had switched over to a technology that more reliably linked the audio with the visuals.

Innovators never underestimate the importance of allies. Shot in glorious Technicolor, “Gone with the Wind” won the Best Picture Oscar in 1939, marking the start of Hollywood’s transition from black-and-white to color. But Technicolor had been working on its technology for making color movies since 1915, developing new kinds of cameras and film-processing techniques.

Like most start-ups, the company nearly ran out of money several times and had to continually hunt for new investors and allies who’d make movies using Technicolor’s technology to show how it was improving. These allies included the swashbuckler Douglas Fairbanks and Walt Disney, who won one of his first Oscars for a short cartoon made in Technicolor. Technicolor co-founder Herb Kalmus met another key ally at the racetrack at Saratoga Springs: Jock Whitney, a rich playboy who used his money to option a novel by Margaret Mitchell and help turn it into a movie starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.

Innovators spot market opportunities first and chase them relentlessly. Entrepreneur Andre Blay had no connection to Hollywood, but in the mid-1970s, he was among the first to realize that home video machines like Sony’s Betamax (which sold for about $1,000 at the time) presented the potential for a new business.

He sent “cold call” letters to most of the major Hollywood studios asking them for the right to sell their movies on videotape. Only one studio, 20th Century Fox, consented, offering movies like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Blay’s first ad in “TV Guide” netted his company $140,000 in revenue, and within a year, Fox acquired his company for $7.2 million in cash.

Innovators find collaborators who share their vision, and they’re prepared for things to take longer than expected. Computer graphics pioneer Ed Catmull, while he was still a graduate student at the University of Utah, was one of the first people on the planet who believed that it’d be possible to make a full-length computer-animated movie that people actually would pay to see. As he marched toward that goal, he connected with two people who bought in to his vision: John Lasseter, an ex-Disney animator, and Steve Jobs, who purchased the fledgling Pixar from George Lucas and helped develop it into a company that could stand on its own two feet, selling hardware and software while also pursuing Catmull’s ambitious, audacious goal.

Catmull admits that he thought the goal of making Pixar’s first film would take a decade — it took two. Disney eventually bought Pixar in 2006 for $7.4 billion.

As a business owner, there are many lessons to learn about innovation from the movies.

Guy Kawasaki is the co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web, and a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures. Previously, he was the chief evangelist of Apple. Kawasaki is the author of ten books including Enchantment, Reality Check, and The Art of the Start. He appears courtesy of a partnership with HVACR Business, where this column was originally published. Reach Kawasaki through www.guykawasaki.com or at kawasaki@garage.com.

Published in Akron/Canton

When Mindy Grossman came in as president and CEO of HSN Inc., she was the eighth CEO in 10 years — the company had hit a rut. But she decided to break that cycle by making big changes.

“What we really had to do was redefine the brand for today, unleash the potential of the organization and then build a business strategy, a product strategy and a long-term vision that really came from the core of the brand strategy,” Grossman says of the $3 billion interactive, multichannel retailer headquartered in St Petersburg, Fla.

Smart Business sat down with Grossman at the 2011 Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum to discuss how she implemented change at HSN to revamp the brand in 2006 and engaged employees in the process.

Q: How did you communicate HSN’s revamped message to its employees?

People need to understand not only the functional aspect of what you’re doing but what it means to them, what it means to their ability to be successful, what it means to their job, what it means to their role as an evangelist for the company. So in addition to a two-hour presentation (on our new brand and business strategy), we then … cascaded that through the organization in a very detailed way. We integrated it into all of our performance plans so people could identify what their objectives needed to be against the business and the brand mission.

Q: How did you boil down that message?

At the first level, we rolled out what our vision is going to be, which is really to create almost a distraction on the retail landscape. We changed the paradigm, our mission to bring the joy and excitement of new discoveries every day. And then we identified six pillars around that that we needed to have. … Then behind that, we said here are the three business priorities: grow our active customer base and lifetime value of every customer, expand our gross profit, and what we were calling total quality improvement — our people, our talent, our processes, our execution.

You’ve got to keep communicating that. I think one of the reasons we’ve been able to keep our momentum is they haven’t changed. I think one of the things that companies do is they zig and zag. … You have to have clarity of purpose and you have to make people get passionate behind it.

Q: How did you inspire confidence in the change?

What we needed to do is as we had successes — whether they be small, whether they be large — we communicated them and we celebrated them. So people felt the momentum was beginning, and they could get excited and they could share that excitement. And they have examples of where our changes were working. Because whenever you go into a transformation, once you’ve come out of it and you are building, you sometimes forget the ugly stuff that you had to do. You had to get out of businesses; you had to get out of brands. That first year we had to get out of $150 million worth of businesses that either didn’t fit the brand or warrant quality or weren’t relevant. You’ve got to make those changes and people need to understand why, because unless you can communicate that, they are confused. … Or they are scared; people are scared of change in many cases.

Q: Why did you celebrate success?

We knew that you couldn’t take 24 hours a day of programming, 365 days a year, and change it overnight. But what we did have to do was take some very bold steps.

For example, in beauty, 70 percent of our beauty business was in four brands that were exclusive to HSN, and we didn’t have a diversified portfolio. The company was having a difficult time attracting prestige and boutique brand. … In fashion, we had to get out of almost everything we had except for a few brands that we still have today and have grown. … So we did partnerships with (Sephora and) Scoop. … Fortunately, they worked and they served as catalysts.

So we had to celebrate that, even though in the scheme of things, they were a couple of hours of programming, right? But then you all of a sudden saw your profile go up in the marketplace, in the trade. You are then able to attract other brands and businesses. So those were the type of things that we had to do — communicate while we were doing it, and then come back to the organization and give them a little bit of a report card.

You have to do that (because) not everything is going to work. And you have to be as open and transparent to say to the organization, ‘You know, we tried this. We put a lot behind it, and you know it didn’t achieve our expectations. But here’s what we learned and here’s what we’re going to apply to the next time.’

Q: How do you build a culture that can embrace the failures?

We are a culture of change. We are a culture of strategic risk taking. I like to say, ‘We take risks; we don’t like to commit suicide.’ There’s a difference. We are at a culture of innovation, and if you are going to do that, you’re going to have to take inherently those risks. The thing that you have to do, though, is you can’t talk through two sides of your mouth. You can’t say we want to be this kind of culture and then something doesn’t work and you’re berating somebody for failure.

So we have a lot of dialogue so that when we are going into something that potentially might be defined as a risk, we talk about it. We identify why we’re doing it. We look at what the metrics and what our goal is. And sometimes the goal is less metrics and more impact. And so you go through all of that, and then at the end you do a diagnostic. And the way we approach it is not ‘This didn’t work. Why?’ It’s ‘What have we learned from this experiment, this launch, this … new direction?’ But if we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t have some of our most interesting businesses right now.

How to reach: HSN Inc., (800) 284-5757 or www.hsn.com

Published in Florida

Change is an inevitability of life.  Ironically, the fact that “change will always happen” is the only real thing we can count on in life!  We cannot always control change, but that does not mean our life path has to be at the complete mercy of random, unpredictable circumstance.

As a busy executive, are you at the mercy of events or are you in control? Do the changes roll in so fast that you find yourself struggling to stay afloat? How do you view the changes that are happening around you?

You can shake your fist at the sky, or sulk to show that you are mad at the world, or you can accept that truth that nobody escapes change. These tips are intended help you be mindful of your potential, to hone your ability to manifest positive results and to learn that sometimes you must simply “go with the flow.”

12 ways to embrace change to increase effectiveness as a busy executive:

1. CHAOS IS OPPORTUNITY.  Big changes, especially unpleasant ones, are like storms that clear the air.  Rather than perceive this as a disaster, strategically keep note of the pros and cons of the situation. Learning from a chaotic change and then implementing a series of positive changes can earn you kudos for your ability to handle a tough situation.

2. REFLECTION, NOT PANIC.  Be the calm at the center of the storm. Realize the need for rational, intelligent thinking and connection with your higher self. Often we receive answers that tell us exactly what we need to do when our mind is still. This is also a way to earn the respect of your colleagues and team.

3. AVOID STINKING THINKING.  When change happens unexpectedly, some people engage in “stinking thinking.” Try to avoid thinking negatively of yourself, your coworkers or the situation in general. Avoid words like “should”, “not” and “can’t”. Remember, the idea here is to increase your effectiveness – negative thought will not make that happen.

4. BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS. Being honest with yourself about what role you may have played to manifest an unpleasant change is one of the best ways to respect yourself and maintain your own integrity. If the change occurred because you made a mistake, then learn from it and move on. Accountability increases effectiveness.

5. DON’T PLAY THE BLAME GAME.  Rather than change, many people create reasons why they are incapable of change. One of the favorite tactics of ineffective executives is to blame all of their woes on others, especially their team members. Even if there is someone to blame, obsessing over it will not help in correcting the situation.

6. CONSIDER ALL OF THE FACTS.  When in the midst of change, many people find it hard to “see the forest through the trees.”  As an executive, try to develop a perspective that takes everything into consideration and not just your point of view.

7. BE PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE.  A reactive individual is at the mercy of change. A proactive manager takes action to make the best of it. Acting first keeps you out ahead of change and in control of it.

8. DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. During periods of great change it is very common to find every little thing to be just another source of stress. Learn to distinguish between what is worth worrying about and what isn’t.

9. AVOID MISERY LOVES COMPANY. During times of change an executive is likely to have coworkers or others who will want to sit and ruminate over the “terrible” situation. Refuse to participate in these types of pity parties. They breed self-sabotaging negative thoughts and behaviors. They also lead to a lessening of respect for your position.

10. BE READY WITH A SMILE. People who smile are considered to be more flexible and adaptable to change. People who look stern are considered to be rigid personalities that are not capable of personal growth. Change is all about personal growth, for you and your team. A smile can make all the difference in these times.

11. GO WITH THE FLOW.  Present an easy, casual and friendly attitude that shows off your flexibility, yet at the same time portrays your persistence in the face of obstacles and adversity. This attitude will lend itself as a helpful guide through the river of change that is happening all around your company or organization.

12. REWARD YOURSELF. Too many executives only reward the good behavior of others in their organization. Do not do this. If you have mastered some aspect of change that you have found very difficult to conquer in the past, remember to reward yourself. This reinforces your subconscious mind to repeat the beneficial behavior.

Remember, the only thing you can be sure of is change. Is there anything more boring than a life without change? Embrace the lessons that life has to offer you and grow from them. Use them to teach and lead as you strive for more effectiveness in all you do.

DeLores Pressley, motivational speaker and personal power expert, is one of the most respected and sought-after experts on success, motivation, confidence and personal power. She is an international keynote speaker, author, life coach and the founder of the Born Successful Institute and DeLores Pressley Worldwide. She helps individuals utilize personal power, increase confidence and live a life of significance. Her story has been touted in The Washington Post, Black Enterprise, First for Women, Essence, New York Daily News, Ebony and Marie Claire. She is a frequent media guest and has been interviewed on every major network – ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX – including America’s top rated shows OPRAH and Entertainment Tonight.

She is the author of “Oh Yes You Can,” “Clean Out the Closet of Your Life” and “Believe in the Power of You.” To book her as a speaker or coach, contact her office at 330.649.9809 or via email at info@delorespressley.com or visit her website at www.delorespressley.com.

Published in Akron/Canton
Tuesday, 13 September 2011 14:56

Taking traditional tools into the digital age

Deborah Fine is pretty good at shaking things up.

Three years ago, when she joined Direct Brands, the largest distributor of physical multimedia products such as books, movies and DVDs was in desperate need of transforming its business model to better compete in an increasingly changing marketplace.

Fine’s problem was pretty straightforward: Many of the company’s holdings had strong brand recognition, such as Rhapsody, The Literary Guild, Columbia House, QPB and The Book Of The Month Club, but those and other brands had lost their luster. And with the shine went some of the corporate revenue.

Aiming to provide more for the customer and recapture brand loyalty, Fine introduced a largely fresh marketing team and implemented new Web and social media strategies. She also took a new look at traditional, proven methods.

“We realized pretty quickly that between the database of scale and owning the ability to power a direct consumer channel, inherent in those lie two very, very large opportunities for growth,” Fine says.

Smart Business sat down with the former president of iVillage to discuss what it took to turn Direct Brands into a digital age company.

Q: On day one, what challenges did you walk into this job and face?

I walked into the success of a model that was largely unchallenged for decades, so there was nothing wrong with this model for a very long time. A mere three years ago, this was a billion-dollar business. The challenge is that the landscape changed so quickly. This is a company that saw throughout its legacy Red Box, Amazon and the changes at Barnes & Noble. It saw radical change around it, and frankly, it didn’t respond with the speed that the company now thinks and executes with.

Q: Did you find there was an urge to leverage your existing resources to expand outside the company’s core competencies?

Yes and no. We identified our growth strategy on several fronts. The first job was to go back to our roots and execute against core, direct marketing tools and best practices to increase loyalty retention — all the things that belied our heritage.

The second was to take the 24 businesses we own — those in physical form as well as their digital companion sites — and bring related business into the fray. For example, if we have amongst our audience several hundred thousand members of The Good Cook, (we have) a reasonable opportunity to monetize that audience and sell them the related casserole dish, spices and kitchen gadgetry.

The third (job) was recognizing the turnkey legacy value and expertise needed to power that model — with best-in-class distribution and customer service components — enabling us to enable others.

Q: You’ve been in industries where disruptive innovation is necessary. How are you bringing disruptive innovation to this organization?

Most disruptive about what we’re doing is exposing the company to new ways of running a business, as well as bringing in new disciplines. Titles such as ‘head of business development’ and ‘chief transformation officer’ were not titles that existed before. So I think I say it sort of in jest, but not really — the biggest change was showing up and bringing in a CEO to transform the entire management team. I changed 80 percent of the management team in my first year. Talent is the silver bullet, and there are very few business practices that are silver bullets.

Q: How are you balancing traditional channels with the new channels for doing this business?

It’s really a hybrid. When I arrived at the company from working as president of one of the largest online sites for women at NBC with iVillage, the perception was that I was going to show up with the world’s largest shredder and literally shred every piece of paper, every catalog and every piece of collateral material that we used to run our business. But no business today, regardless of genre, is able to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

So for us, I subscribe to test, learn, repeat; test, learn, repeat. And that’s what we are doing. Social media is a great example. There’s no way I’m going to walk away from 60 million pieces of direct mail, 500 million e-mails and 27 million cartons that can be marketed in, on and around in favor of a new discipline that may or may not work for us. But common sense says that because our demo is there, because our customer is connecting online, because our customer is active in social media, we have to be there.

Q: So how does this look in practice?

We’re certainly not abandoning our traditional tools, tactics and strategies, but based on demography, it’s the fastest growing segment. It’s requisite for us to be there, and I think it’s a combination of analytical tools, research, training, learning and business processes.

As a example, we had a situation where we had a consumer registering a complaint and posting it. Actually, we had two situations happening at the same time because of that: We had customer service react almost immediately, people who are monitoring those pages, but then we also had our loyal fans, de facto brand ambassadors, come to our defense.

You can go on the site and read their posts: “I’ve been a member for 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, you know. I‘ve never had this problem with the company. The service has always been a hallmark.”

So re-engineering the company is as much about new systems and processes as it is about changing the psyche.

How to reach: Direct Brands, www.directbrands.com

Interviewed by Dustin S. Klein / Story by Jessica Hanna

Published in National
Thursday, 30 June 2011 20:01

Ravi Kathuria; Reinventing executives

The unrelenting economic changes and cycles have forced companies to rethink everything. In increasing numbers, companies are now asking their executives to re-engineer themselves by taking on roles in which they have no prior experience. For instance, a company may ask its head of sales to manage IT or ask its CFO to run sales.

Widespread phenomenon

In a recent survey, conducted by Cohegic Corp., 75 percent of the respondents said their companies are indeed asking executives to take on roles in unfamiliar areas.

Two-thirds of the large company and half of the midsized company respondents indicated the primary driver for reassigning executives was to facilitate career growth. Smaller companies, on the other hand, specified downsizing and financial constraints as the primary driver. More than 60 percent of the small and midsize company respondents felt cross-assignments for executives is a trend here to stay.

Changing your perspectives

As an executive, you must be prepared and willing to reinvent yourself. In order to serve your company well, you must stop thinking of yourself only as a functional expert. At lower levels, functional expertise is a plus, but at upper-management levels, limited cross-functional exposure could be a liability for the company.

Managing areas of the organization in which you have no prior experience could be a potent way to change the “silo” mindset. Challenge your new team’s assumptions and standard procedures and challenge your own perspectives.

Steps to achieve success

Taking on an unfamiliar role is a daunting challenge and involves great risk. When assigned an unfamiliar role, you must consider several steps to achieve success.

Rediscover yourself: You must have a clear understanding of why the company specifically chose you for the opportunity. What does the company expect you to deliver? You must realize that your new responsibility is all about change management. The company expects you to introduce change — change in mindset, approach, culture, process, people, pace of progress, performance, etc.

Research: You must first listen. Do not be impulsive and impatiently thrust your knowledge on your team. Do not be superficial in your assessment. If you take the time to understand and diagnose the situation in detail, you will gain greater respect and cooperation from the team as you push for difficult changes. It will also give you an opportunity to build a relationship with key influencers within the team.

Relearning: Develop a new perspective. Learn how things work in this unfamiliar area of the business. Remove your previous filters, preconceived notions and biases. Do not be a know-it-all, because what got you here may not help you get there. Make it clear to the team that you have a lot to learn and remind the team they have a lot to learn from you. It is a partnership, their technical knowledge and your new approach will create the right recipe for success.

Reapply yourself: Bring to bear your management, leadership, analytical and problem-solving skills and your ability to work the organization and make things happen. Leverage your energy, enthusiasm, and confidence to help the team rise to the occasion. In order to produce change, you have to make the case for change and help your team appreciate the sense of urgency. Explain your vision and the steps to realize the vision. You will need to enlist key people from the team so you can build a coalition for success.

Results: Solve the problem, address the need and produce results. Resist the temptation to fixate on tactical issues. Do not forget why the company assigned you the role and what it expects you to deliver. Keep your focus on the big picture and never waver from the overarching goal.

Ravi Kathuria is president of Cohegic Corp., a management consulting and executive coaching firm, and he is president of the Houston Strategy Forum. Quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, WorldNews and featured on CBS Radio and the BusinessMakers Show. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, The Coherent Company: The Struggle for the Next Level.

Published in Houston