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Why The Next Steve Jobs Will Never Work For Your Hospital

Your hospital has thousands of employees, but could you use your very own version of Steve Jobs?  Probably, but don't kid yourself. He'd never get past your H-R department's first line of defense, with his attitude and his iconoclastic views and his wardrobe. Someone would scrawl "Weird and Possibly Dangerous" across his resume and that'd be that.

But don't fret.  I'm pretty sure the feeling would be mutual.  And that's why your hospital's branding tagline really ought to read "We're no worse than anybody else."

The NY Times' David Pogue on Steve Jobs: "Imitated, Never Duplicated:"
"Here’s a guy who never finished college, never went to business school, never worked for anyone else a day in his adult life. So how did he become the visionary who changed every business he touched? Actually, he’s given us clues all along. Remember the “Think Different” ad campaign he introduced upon his return to Apple in 1997?

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.”

"In other words, the story of Steve Jobs boils down to this: Don’t go with the flow.

"Steve Jobs refused to go with the flow. If he saw something that could be made better, smarter or more beautiful, nothing else mattered. Not internal politics, not economic convention, not social graces.

[...]

"Suppose, by some miracle, that some kid in a garage somewhere at this moment possesses the marketing, invention, business and design skills of a Steve Jobs. What are the odds that that same person will be comfortable enough — or maybe uncomfortable enough — to swim upstream, against the currents of social, economic and technological norms, all in pursuit of an unshakable vision?

"Zero. The odds are zero."
Hospitals are dangerous places.  Lives hang in the balance and there's no place for freelancing.  But couldn't you use just ONE cranky visionary, just ONE person reminding everybody that going with the flow sometimes means you're in the sewer?  One lone voice holding mediocrity hostage, screaming "Dammit!  Life is too precious!  We can be BETTER!  Lead, follow or leave!"

"Zero.  The odds are zero."

Depressing.

And lest you think that Jobs' legacy offers no lessons for hospital leaders, consider this:  for all his innovative vision and creativity, his ability to distort reality in "insanely great" ways, Apple remains one of the planet's most disciplined and focused organizations.  Disciplined around process and philosophy.  Focused around doing a few things exceptionally well and NOT doing whatever detracts from those few things.

Those are lessons worthy of ANY organization.

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