The Health Care World Series
by Ritch K. Eich, PhD
In the game of professional baseball there are two levels of contest and two levels of play: the World Series and everything else. This model translates now and again to organizational management – though hardly as often as business authors would like us to believe – and under extreme circumstances we are offered a valuable litmus test of textbook principles and leadership.
A year ago, Fortune magazine profiled Lloyd Dean, CEO of a large San Francisco-based organization once called Catholic Healthcare West. The January 14, 2013 article spans Dean’s upbringing in an African-American enclave in Muskegon, MI, to his ascension to the leading role at a troubled Catholic hospital system and the organization’s recent years of financial stability.
The challenges presented to Dean and his team in 2000 included an imperfectly joined large hospital system, resulting from the earlier efforts of the Sisters of Mercy to link two geographically dispersed hospital networks to capture efficiencies of scale. The failed efficiencies of scale attempts led to a dire financial situation, followed by a prolonged struggle to attract a talented CEO. In 2002, the organization returned to profitability.