A Summit Experience

Posted on by Landon Card

Catalysis' internship program gives college students the opportunity to attend our annual Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit, learn about lean in healthcare, and make valuable connections to healthcare leaders and practitioners. We see this program as one way to invest in the future of healthcare by educating and connecting the next generation of healthcare leaders. This blog is from one of our interns, Landon Card (pictured right). 

When I arrived at the Summit in Chicago, I didn’t know what to expect. Coming from a suburb in Iowa, the crazy traffic and constant honking of Chicago had me on high alert. After I parked, I made the one block trek to the hotel where I was greeted with a warm smile by Angela, who guided both me and my buddy Will Bickel throughout the whole process. I checked into my room, and immediately felt relaxed. The city seemed completely separate from the inside of the hotel.

I settled in and went downstairs to meet up with Will and the rest of the staff, who all greeted us with warm smiles and friendly conversation. Will and I waited for a few minutes before John Toussaint himself came to talk to us. With as much status and success as John had, I wasn’t sure what this meeting would be like. He ended up talking to me and Will for an hour like we were friends he’d known for years. He filled us in on the lean healthcare model and introduced us to value-based care vs fee-for-service care.

John explained how the US currently uses a fee-for-service system, which encourages doctors to utilize waste in the system and gives no incentive for doctors to do something right the first time. If we were to switch to a value-based-care system, doctors would be encouraged to waste as little time and resources as possible, while making them more efficient. Additionally, John mentioned my name to a very wise woman named Margie Hagene. I didn’t know it yet, but Margie would change the way I view leadership and learning. That night the Summit staff took Will and me out to eat and we were able to walk down Navy Pier.

Day 1

The first day of the Summit we woke up bright and early to head to a workshop hosted by Michele Smith. The topic was Organizational Transformation: How to Develop Change Readiness. Although the workshop was 8 hours long, there wasn’t a dull moment. Michele was constantly having the audience participate and kept us engaged. From this workshop, I gained a deeper understanding of how to help a team adapt and improve with change, while also picking up a few valuable leadership and management skills. For example, communication is key. I know that sounds cliché, but under a chain of command, communication gets lost and the people on the frontline often feel unheard. You must communicate ideas and know your team personally to understand what they are thinking and how to help them.

Following the workshop, we worked the registration desk, where we were able to welcome and get people checked into the Summit. Everyone at the Summit was extremely nice and eager to be there.

Day 2

We began the day by checking more people in and sitting in on an opening Keynote by John, where he discussed Catalysis, the lean healthcare model, and its history in-depth. Following, everyone broke out into learning sessions, with a variety of different topics to choose from. I had the opportunity to meet with Margie during this time.

It’s important to note, having a conversation with Margie is a one-of-a-kind experience. If you get this privilege, be prepared to think, learn, and gain insight about yourself. Margie is known as the queen of asking questions, and I found out why fairly quickly. We sat down and began with listening to each other’s stories, where we came from and how we got to where we were. My main goal was to learn about leadership qualities and strategies from Margie, but our conversation led to so much more. Shifting from leadership to education, to helping others learn on their own and even asking the right questions, Margie was able to convey years of wisdom to me in a matter of two hours. With her experience in education prior to her employment at Catalysis, she was able to open my eyes to how people learn and understand things, something that every leader should know. She helped me to realize that you can’t solve every problem for people if you want them to be their best because “strong leaders give direction, but they aren’t directive about it.” All in all, this was the highlight of my experience at Catalysis because of the applicable skills and connections I made while speaking with Margie.

After lunch, I went to help Heidi host a learning session by Montage Health. Steve Cabrales and Rachel DeMaster did a wonderful job of presenting ways to create a culture of improvement through safety, communication, and improvement incentives. What I started to find very interesting was the importance of communication. No matter what specialty or status people held, communication seemed to be a reoccurring issue that caused problems in every workplace. The learning sessions were followed by a very intriguing discussion between John Toussaint and Terell Stafford, who is a professor at Templeton University and a professional trumpet player. One of the main lessons I pulled from this discussion was a lesson from Terell:

“There’s two kinds of Jazz musicians. There’s selfish ones and there’s selfless ones. The selfish ones are always beating up on themselves after a gig because they only focused on how they played; where they messed up and what not. The selfless ones are happy and congratulate others after the gig because they felt how good everyone else did.”

Following this discussion, Chris took Will and I out to get authentic Chicago deep dish pizza. Chris was another fountain of wisdom, and we both enjoyed every moment with him. He showed me around my first subway ride and talked with me and Will about anything and everything we could think of. Chris was another one of many great people we met while at the Summit.

Our Final Day

Our final day Will and I hosted two learning sessions. The first of the two, Leaders! Get to the Gemba!, was presented by Jim Carty and Nicolas Restrepo. These guys did a great job of illustrating the importance of making the frontline members feel heard. They did this by making rounds, talking with each member to gain a personal understanding of what they needed.

Additionally, they had concrete statistics to back their strategy up. Each category of satisfaction showed improvement, and almost every improvement was significant.

The second learning session, The Importance of Relationships in Accelerating Change was presented by Steve Gibbons and Jason Neff. These guys did a great job including the audience, as they were participating and speaking just as much, if not more than the speakers themselves. Everyone in that room learned that we are all different when it comes to approaching problems, and when we all listen and utilize one another’s strengths, we can do so much more.

As a college intern not knowing what to expect, Catalysis blew me away. I’ve never met so many amazing people who wanted to help others. Each person here has their own story and their own wisdom to share. I gained a new appreciation for the healthcare system, made connections with countless wonderful people, and obtained leadership skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I am extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to improve themselves or their workplace.

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