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Essentialism: Are We Using It or Losing It?
We’ve all done it: attended an amazing lecture or conference and gleaned some great ideas, only to return to work and forget about it entirely a couple weeks later. This common conundrum prompted Lawrence Marsco to ask the U of U Health LDI curriculum committee, “How do we know if anyone’s using this content?”

ccelerate exists (in part) for this very reason—to keep sharing the best insights so it doesn’t all slip away. Here, we share five highlights from Utah’s Leader Development Institute (LDI, November 30, 2017) that focused on what’s essential, with survey response data from 202* of our system leaders.

60% Focus on the essential (43% talk about it)

Author Greg McKeown joked with U of U Health’s Sam Finlayson at the session, “The book I wrote is called Essentialism , but sometimes what people hear, especially if they get caught up in the idea of saying no, is that I wrote a book called No-ism.” The difference is important, particularly when it comes to day-to-day practice in the health care world. The key is figuring out what’s actually essential—engaging with what really matters so that each member of a team can take ownership of and excel at their chosen work.

Read the article: “How to Focus on the Essentials”

53% Have fun with their team

When Manager of Environmental Services for Community Clinics Jess Rivera first assumed a leadership position, she made a point of walking the walk and working alongside her employees, infusing fun along the way. She’s now trained three more supervisors to assume the same kind of connected role, all while learning together, taking care of her staff, and leaving things better than she found them. “Making your staff better today than they were yesterday makes you better as a leader today than you were yesterday,” Rivera said.

Read the article: “Learning to Lead and Leading to Learn”

24% Use vision to engage their team

Clinical Nutrition Manager Carissa Christensen faced a dilemma as she developed a weight management program for patients struggling with obesity: how do you engage an entire system in an ambitious improvement project? By empowering her team of 24 dieticians, Christensen was able to use Utah’s value equation to clearly define the goals of her project, incorporate the patient perspective, and transform obstacles into opportunities. The most important lesson, however, came as time went on: “We’ll have to be patient as we measure for success,” Christensen said. “I’ve spent a lot of time in my career fighting to get programs noticed, and now that instinct comes naturally. However, I’ve learned that patience is truly a virtue.”

Read the article: “The Formula for Transforming Health Care”

24% Have discussed incivility

Three years ago, an internal study found that Huntsman Cancer Institute employees experienced significant compassion fatigue. Director of Nursing Services Sue Childress teamed up with HCI executives, providers, and managers to combat burnout by promoting conscientious leadership and a culture of civility. They achieved this goal by clearly conveying expectations and standards, identifying the difference between incivility and constructive criticism, encouraging peer-to-peer communication, and addressing uncivil behavior immediately. “No matter what, remember one thing,” Childress suggested. “Be kind and selfless in all you do. Evidence shows this does more for you than the person you’re being kind to.”

Read the article: “Creating A Culture of Civility”

10% Have called a "Code Lavender"

With 25 years of experience in the mental health field, University Neuropsychiatric Institute Nurse Manager Tracy Farley has seen it all. After his own brother had open-heart surgery at University Hospital, he took a step back to reflect on what mindful leadership means: making an authentic human connection with his staff, exhibiting compassion with patients, and identifying and overcoming stress through the use of Code Lavender moments. “Code Lavenders are brief exercises to help us be centered and present in the moment,” Tracy said. “We just sit up straight, put our feet on the floor, inhale for four seconds, and exhale for six seconds. Code Lavenders allows us to slow down and think about how we interact with our environment.”

Read the article: “Mindful Leadership: New Rules for Managing Stress”



Accelerate Editorial Team

The Accelerate Editorial Team is a group of health care professionals who lead development and production of this website (see About), University of Utah Health

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