When Ken Kizer took on the challenge of revamping the horrific state of affars that was the U.S. Veterans Health Administration (many of you have probably seen the movies that showed the sorry state of Veterans Hospitals), nobody suspected that they would go from "last to first."
Forget "Good to Great," these hospitals literally went from "worst to best!"
Reading the writeup on it in this week's issue of Business Week, I was struck by the similarities between Kizer's approach and Napoleon (whom most of you know I'm quite familiar with).
Whereas Napooleon was focused on equality, Kizer was driven by quality and safety. Like Napoleon, Kizer inherited a disastrous state of chaos and provided order, visibility, improvements in technology, training, accountability, decentralized decision-making, and most of all, hope and pride. Also like Napoleon, Kizer had his share of enemies, some who felt he was too arrogant and others who perhaps felt threatened by the changes. Finally, like Napoleon, Kizer was eventually ousted, except by Congress instead of foreign powers.
Fortunately, unlike Napoleon, Kizer's successors continued his methods and his passion. Because of these changes, every nurse and doctor in the network has instant access to electronic patient records, and drugs are filled robotically, avoiding the mistakes common to most other hospitals. And because these hospitals treat the patients for life, they spend more time and money on preventative care, as they realize it costs everyone less in the long run (talk about Total Cost of Ownership!).
I highly recommend picking up this week's Business Week (the July 17th issue with "The Plot to Hijack Your Computer" on the cover). Meanwhile, below is another article that talks about the amazing transformation that Kizer led the VHA through.
Expect to hear more on this as I research this in more depth. I also ordered the book, Straight from the CEO: The World's Top Business Leaders Reveal Ideas That Every Manager Can Use
, which is mentioned in the article and apparently covers Kizer's story.
Here's the article (not the Business Week one, but a good one nonetheless) ..."The Best Care Anywhere" by Phillip Longman
Labels: accountability, ceo, it-project, napoleon, passion, project-cost, project-manager, success-story, training