The Kalahari; vast, silent, deadly. The end of the rainy season, the midday heat surpasses a hundred and twenty. One of the varieties of waterfowl, most notably the flame red flamingo that nested in the great salt pans in Botswana, has begun its annual migration. In the muck of one of the fresh-water pools that had almost completely evaporated, writhes a squirming black mass of underdeveloped tadpoles. A lone Baobab tree pokes skyward from the middle of the barren savanna. In its shade, standing shoulder to shoulder and facing out, a herd of wildebeest surveys the landscape for predators. Sir David Attenborough and PBS can’t be far away.
Some things never change. I make my way across the freshly laid macadam to meet the school bus. Fifty feet in front of me is a young silver maple tree, the buds of its green leaves yielding only the slightest hint of spring hidden deep within. The late afternoon sun casts a slender shadow across the sodded common area. One by one they come—soccer moms; big moms, little moms, moms who climb on rocks; fat moms, skinny moms, even moms with chicken pox—sorry, I couldn’t stop myself—as they will every day at this same time, seeking protection in its shade. My neighbors. It’s only sixty-five today, yet they seek protection from the nonexistent heat, a habit born no doubt from bygone sweltering summer days. A ritual. An inability to change. In a few weeks the leaves will be in their full glory, and the moms will remain in the shadow of what once was, standing shoulder to shoulder facing outward, scanning the horizon for the bus. A herd. Just like wildebeest.
The children debus–I invented the word. Mine hand me their backpacks, lunch boxes, and musical instruments. I look like a Sherpa making my way home from K-2.
I shared the wildebeest analogy with the neighborhood moms—the bruises will fade gradually. I can state with some degree of certainty they were not impressed with being compared to wildebeest. So here we go, buckle up. By now you’re thinking, “There must be a pony in here somewhere.”
Some things never change; it’s not for lack of interest, but for lack of a changer. For real change to occur someone needs to be the changer, otherwise it’s just a bunch of people standing shoulder to shoulder looking busy. Motion is not the equal of movement.
How are you addressing the change that must occur to improve patient experience? Patient experience is not about CMS. It’s not about purchasing data about patient experience, and it is not about coaching and clowns. It is about moving from a 0.2 business model to 2.0. You need someone who sees the vision of what is is—sorry, too Clintonian—must lead. Be change.
One of the great traits of wildebeest is that they are great followers.