Manage Your Practice

The Mismatch of Story and Culture Within Medical Groups


I had a friend, let’s call him “Bob,” who’d readily make promises and just as readily break them.

All medical groups have a culture, whether or not it’s been purposefully created. It exists.

All medical groups have a story, too. A story its leaders or members or both tell about the group.

So, while culture exists, story itself is a representation or image of culture.

Some say that story is how culture is transmitted. But what I’d like you to focus on is the impact of the match or mismatch between story and culture within a medical group and how it affects the group both internally and externally.

The Community Group prides itself on delivering high quality care and on meeting the needs of its patients and referring physicians. That’s the story they tell themselves.

If that story matches with the actual culture, that is, the group actually delivers high quality care that meets its customers’ needs, then value is being created for the customers and it’s likely that the group is highly performing internally.

On the other hand, if the story remains the same but the group’s physicians are rude and if reports promised to referring physicians are generally late, then there’s trouble in store for the group — they are just fooling themselves and no one else.

The same mismatch can happen internally as well. For example, when a group’s leaders believe (belief being the story) that they have created a culture of mentoring younger group members but the reality is that there is no guidance and that management by yelling around is the rule. That misalignment of story and culture creates a cancer within the group.

My friend Bob thought that he was a man of his word. But that was just a story.

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