Unusual Tip #3: The Re-imagination of Healthcare (or any industry) Requires a “Yes, If” Leadership Culture

UNUSUAL TIP #03 (1000x300)

For a number of years, I have been running emergency ‘code blues’ for companies and organizations stuck in an innovation rut. I’m the guy they call when competition is lurking around the corner, leadership can’t grasp the uncertainty ahead, or the innovation well has dried up. And when you peel away the onion – let me tell you – it can get pretty ugly and messy.

One of the most important lessons I have learned over the years is a simple one that has been a leadership mantra of the master imagineer, Mr. Walt Disney, himself:

“Don’t come to me with ‘no, because’. Only come to me with ‘yes, if. *

This simple leadership mentality has made all the difference for Disney Inc. that has pushed the envelope of possibility over generations in ways never before imagined. In my view, it is the difference between proactively reimagining what’s possible vs. reactively evolving into the inevitable.

Unfortunately, healthcare tends to be more resistant to innovative change than most other industries for a number of reasons (some valid, others not). It is an industry that is grounded in tradition and ritual (semi-valid), it is an industry that profits from status quo inefficiencies (not valid), and it is an industry highly resistant to change to protect the patient from preventable harm (valid).

With that understanding in context, we cannot proactively re-imagine an improved healthcare experience that tackles the triple aim objectives (cost, quality, and satisfaction) head on with a “no, because” attitude. We must reframe our perspective to create a cultural shift amongst leaders of innovation that embraces a “yes, if” attitude. Those organizations that adopt and seed this simple concept will discover a world of opportunities never before imagined, and will reap benefits that their competition could only dream of.


So here’s my unusual tip: Discovering new innovative opportunities is as much about having an open attitude as it is about having a sound strategy. Embrace ideas from across the organization with a “yes, if” mentality that encourages obstacles to be seen as minor hindrances, not as a cowardly reasons to retreat.


*PS: To be clear, this approach is not analogous to the oft butchered mantra of “no, but; yes, and“. To me, that is about exclusivity vs inclusivity. Whereas “no, because; yes, if” is about proactively seeking and proposing solutions.  A subtle, yet very important difference.

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