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Kubica LaForest Newsletter - October 2011


Kubica LaForest Consulting

Newsletter: October 2011 The Power of Values Alignment Within an Organization

What benefit does an organization gain by having values alignment? And what outcomes can be expected if accomplished?

Values, and alignment of those values across the organization, drive organizational performance and promote growth.

Organizational values reveal themselves in two ways:

1. from/in organizational strategy development (the planning process to set goals and vision — the ideal future state you are working towards)

2. through organizational norms that reveal themselves based on behavior (good or bad) in lieu of, or in addition to established and known values, as set in #1.

Values, (also referenced as guiding principles) are one of the three key strategic visionary elements that establish a business philosophy and set the framework for accomplishing work. The other two are: Vision – “Where are we going? Our ideal scene?” And Mission or Purpose—“What we do, why we exist.” Generally, executives (the leadership team) set the framework, and staff execute it. If the values are not known, poorly understood or not supported (i.e. given lip service), the benefits of the values run amuck. And, as in the case of #2, if values are not identified and shared, they will be made up and driven by the strongest personalities (both positive and negative), often creating dissonance or worse, a negative culture. As long as this is either tolerated or supported (through inattention), organizational progress will be limited.

The benefits of value alignment are both tangible and intangible. For example, we see 3 common and potent areas of benefits:

1. Increased quality, productivity, efficiency, and/or effectiveness – tangible items like product quality, timing, satisfaction; which are surfaced through values like “excellence”, the “gold standard” or “market leaders” in services and products.

2. Greater morale and cooperation, which are intangibles, are derivative of the values like “respect”, “teamwork”, “trust”, “care”, etc., that all work to ultimately promote better performance.

3. Increased employee engagement is tangible and observed in a person’s direct work output and activities, and reflective of values like “accountability”, “growth”, “individual contribution”, “ownership”, etc. This also crosses into the intangible of positive employee experience at work and facilates morale.

Conversely, a lack of awareness and alignment of the organizational values will result in employee disengagement, competition vs. cooperation, more insular work and territoriality vs. resource sharing, a decrease in morale and ultimately a decrease in productivity—all costly and avoidable. Simply stated, lack of values and organizational alignment can diminish performance and impede growth. And often the executive team has no idea why the organization isn’t more successful, and argues – it can’t possibly be this values fluff.

Organizational values are a foundational element of high performing organizations. They establish what is most important to get work done in an organization. It also serves as a guide to decision making by enabling staff to assess fit and priority of business activities and opportunities, which in turn results in the performance organizational leaders are seeking.

Healthcare Corner

Healthcare and Social Media

Does social media have any relevance in healthcare, or is it just another example of trying to force fit social media into a place where it doesn’t belong?

Well, it so happens it does have a place in healthcare. While still a fledgling endeavor, there are healthcare organizations and providers using social media to educate and stay in contact with their patients. Our reference to social media includes: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. And rising quickly in this pack is Google+.

But before we discuss the benefits, it is important to address the issues and concerns first. They are real, and they are important. But they are not insurmountable barriers either.


The biggest issue is patient confidentiality. The 2003 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires patient information confidentiality. The 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enabling Electronic Medical Records, also prohibits unauthorized sharing of patient information.

If you have ever been on Facebook, you are witness to the absolute inappropriate disclosure by some people. Medical schools remind their students, who are adept users of social media, to restrain from full, and one could argue, reckless disclosure. Medical students are not the only ones who need to be warned, however. An Emergency Department physician was fired by Westerly Hospital in R.I. for posting information about a patient on Facebook. The physician was fired even though the patient’s name was never mentioned.

Physicians are concerned about being inundated by patients looking for medical advice. And they also are concerned that if a patient tweets a concern or a medical condition and the physician does not see or respond to the tweet, they are liable if an untoward event affects the patient.

The Potential

These concerns must be understood and acknowledged. But we also have examples where healthcare organizations are using social media to communicate with their patients. Take the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic has a Facebook Fan Page with almost 62,000 fans; a Twitter account with almost 244,000 followers; and they have a presence on YouTube where they post both fun and educational videos. On Facebook, they have active discussion, videos, notes (one is “when do you feel your healthiest?”), events, and health-related questions and answers. And they’re not the only ones. Others include: Cleveland Clinic and Partners in Boston.

Social Media also enables emergency preparedness and disaster response teams to spread the word and inform during a disaster.

It also can be used to collect epidemiological data to identify and track outbreaks of flu and food borne illness. In a similar example, when the earthquake hit in the Virginia area on August 23, 2011, the U.S. Geological Service asked people to Tweet if they felt it. Over 122,000 people responded enabling the Geological Service to provide a detailed map of the activity within 3 hours.

Other potential uses include using social media to mention side effects or complications from drugs therapy or to note the number of puffs on an inhaler to provide information on air quality. Science fiction? Not really. In fact, below we discuss a new start-up, Adverse Events, that tracks and delivers information on adverse drug events.

The use of social media, and especially mobile technology, will have a dramatic impact on healthcare. And it’s only in its infancy. The drive to reduce costs, improve quality, and innovate new and effective ways to provide cost-effective healthcare to an aging population with chronic disease will drive innovation. And one innovation will be the use of mobile technology to support the healthcare process.

Adverse Events, Inc. – A New Start-up

There is a new start-up that’s worth knowing about – Adverse Events, Inc. http://adverseevents.com/index.php.

They focus on delivering “accurate, real-time information on adverse events reported to the FDA.” It’s worth checking out. Also read a related story on The Healthcare Blog by Dr. Jan Gurley – “Did Scrappy Little Start-up Just Embarrass the FDA?” http://thehealthcareblog.com/

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