Over the course of forty years in the field of behavioral healthcare services, experience has taught me change should be evolutionary and virtually never revolutionary.
The popular notion flowing from inexperienced managers inevitably urges rapid change as a daily prerequisite for organizational survival. The reality of this latter approach of managing change creates a harsh and unstable environment for staff who need a calm, centered, safe environment in which to care for patients.
Service product lines matter. Marketing is definitely essential, but it’s always been my philosophy we must have the best products available with a team committed to quality. And our products are not technology. It’s not data, it’s not anything physical – it’s service. Our patients really don’t care about what suppliers sell us, they only care about what we have that can help them.
Our focus has always been to explain how we can improve their lives; give them the tools to be happy, healthy, and to unshackle them from the chains of addiction. I have been unalterably opposed to the profit motive of the behavioral health market place which inevitably results in higher rates and denies access to many who need care. Treatment centers gain their best reputations when they strictly adhere to values of providing low cost high quality services.
In the end, a customer, a staff oriented management culture is self-sustaining. The velocity of change in today’s economy requires commitment to a fundamental system of people oriented values.
Without these values in place staff have nothing to hold on to, everything is up for grabs and people lose their way. Telling folks, here’s what’s changing, here’s what’s not changing: who we are and here’s what we stand for permits change to occur in a natural sequence.
The lesson learned always comes back to delivering on our promise of quality services, access to care for patients of all means, and service to our staff, board and the community. To be successful, evolutionary change should be considered whenever possible.