From the Editor

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Excerpt

Some individuals say or write things so profound that they become iconic quotes, repeated for years or even centuries. Not everyone finds these equally meaningful. Those that personally resonate with us either touch our hearts or encapsulate truths we believe or experiences we've lived. It was the latter that made me think of a statement uttered by consultant Nathan Kaufman at the 2016 American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Congress. What did he say that I find so memorable? Just this: “One of the reasons organizations fail is the Lemming syndrome.”
Kaufman's declaration come back to me as I was working on this edition. I found myself wondering whether our Nursing Administration Quarterly authors' innovative thinking had been wholeheartedly supported by their organizations' hierarchy because that hasn't always been my experience. I once worked at a hospital where every idea for change was greeted by the same first question from both the chief executive officer and the chief financial officer. (No, it wasn't, “What will this cost?” That was the second question.) It was, “Who else is doing this?”
While the staff and the clinical management team at this hospital were exhorted to “do more with less,” or “figure out how you can reduce costs and increase quality,” the only proposals granted instant credence were those someone else had already done, even if there was no evidence that they'd done it successfully. In other words, the message was, “be innovative but don't be the first to try something new.” On the contrary, “If others are doing it, or even planning to do it, it must be something we should do.” Unfortunately, these 2 executives are not the only hospital leaders I've observed who exhibit this odd behavioral dichotomy. I've known plenty who are less than supportive of experimentation but will eagerly follow professional colleagues down any and every path, especially if it's in “vogue.” Neither the risk-averse mind-set of the former nor the “follow the crowd” behavior of the latter bodes well for organizations that need innovation. And, in our financially challenged environment, this includes all health care organizations.
Leaders who say they want innovation must act accordingly. That requires honesty, exquisite listening skills, and the dexterity of a cheerleader. Honest leaders are able to admit their organizations have areas that could, and should, improve. That makes them open to creative change. Good listeners pay close attention to what others have to say and, are able, through careful questioning, to understand implications of what they are being told. They're the people who are likely to support and implement some off-the-wall ideas that turn out to be breakthrough innovations. Those who have cheerleading aptitude applaud their innovative team members, whether the attempted innovation succeeds or fails. They appreciate those who think of, and try, novel solutions. Their support is the nurturing soil of a culture where groundbreaking ideas can flourish.
Please read our articles from our innovative colleagues. Then, take a look at your organization and how it could get better—at quality, at cost containment, or at becoming an excellent environment for staff. If you see need for change, make an extra effort to support the innovators at your organization, through listening, cheerleading, and whatever support they need. That's part of our Nursing leadership role as we continue to work toward better care for everyone.
P.S. Oh, yeah—about that Lemming syndrome—let's help all our colleagues remember that just because someone (or “everyone”) is doing something doesn't mean it's innovative ... or the right thing to do.
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