Is the Speed of Change Blurring Your Vision?

Remember being a kid playing on a merry go round? Your hair blowing in your face and everything getting blurry as you spin by? When we move really fast, it’s natural to loose focus. Sometimes we miss the obvious.

Healthcare is changing so rapidly and the myriad of initiatives aimed at improving performance and outcomes is dizzying. Even the best healthcare leaders may struggle to keep everything in focus. Culture can easily fall into a blind spot.

But now, more than ever, culture matters. Value-based demands require agility and collaboration on an unprecedented scale. Sluggish, disconnected efforts make it all but impossible to capitalize on strategic opportunities to improve care, establish productive partnerships and grow markets. Cautious, self-preserving approaches are inefficient and limiting.

Trust becomes more important because stakeholders must work together to improve care across the continuum. Leaders and healthcare organizations alike can’t afford to simply “self-preserve.” Each stakeholder must see their part in the bigger system and feel safe to challenge and improve the system. Cultures rich in trust and grounded in personal accountability are better positioned for success.

Is your organization’s culture keeping up with the change?


  1. HCAHPS scores aren’t sustainable

  2. Nursing turnover is up

  3. Employee engagement is slipping

  4. Physicians aren't leading

  5. Silo thinking hinders strategic initiatives

  6. Quality metrics are inconsistent

It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing each of these problems as distinct, requiring unique solutions. Yet, in reality these are all symptoms of a lagging culture. Maintaining the status quo is costly. Patient experience, patient safety, nursing turnover, employee engagement and uncoordinated care all hit the bottom line.

As the saying goes… “If it’s not helping… it’s hurting,” and nothing could be closer to the truth when it comes to culture. I get it. It’s such hard work to change a culture. And you don’t have time. You're focusing your resources on moving your metrics. Your need results NOW!

Can you see the elephant?

Could it be that the speed of change is blurring your vision? You may be missing the obvious. Could culture be your burning platform, not the outcome metrics you want to improve?

That’s right. Maybe it’s not the outcome metric alone. Your biggest problem may be the culture creating the metric. And… yes, I understand creating a progressive culture is real work, and getting results is time consuming. But, addressing each symptom with a dedicated initiative is resource intensive and unsustainable. In the long run, improving culture while moving performance metrics is the best strategy for lasting results.

Healthcare executives able to honestly and objectively take stock are best prepared to lead meaningful change and create cultures that deliver value.

Beth Guyton is the founder and President of Interactive Quality®, a consulting firm dedicated to improving US healthcare one culture at a time. Interactive Quality’s Ethic Wise Leadership assessment is a validated metric for evidence-based leadership practices proven to improve trust and deliver results. Learn how you can get leader specific, actionable data to improve your culture and drive performance.

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