Why You Must Harness the Power of the Flea

July 27, 2020

In my 2017 post, What You Need To Know About The Flea That (Metaphorically) Killed The Medical Center CEO, I wrote about the fact that, as in a guerrilla war, change within an organization, as well as within a domain in which the organization interacts, can occur as a result of agitation by a vocal minority.

Just as no vote was required for a dictator like Castro to take over Cuba, no medical staff vote, no survey by Press Ganey, no long and drawn out process among “stakeholders,” is required to topple the status quo.

In the original “flea” post, the story centered on the fact that a relative handful of physicians toppled the rule of Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center CEO, Sheldon Retchin, M.D.

And now, the Detroit Free Press is reporting that physician leaders at Southfield, Mich.-based Beaumont Health System are circulating a similar no-confidence petition aimed at Beaumont’s President and CEO John Fox and its Executive Vice President and CMO, David Wood, Jr., MD.

The “takeaway” of the original “flea” post, was that the few can make the mighty fall, and fall hard. That if you’re the mighty (the dog in the flea example) watch out for the few, for the flea. And, alternatively, that you can be the flea. That lesson still stands, as valid as ever.

But there’s another takeaway as well, one that I urge you to focus on very carefully.

We’ll all steeped in the notion of the status quo, of how things are done, of the normal order of things.

Many, perhaps most, even, perhaps all, physicians have trouble with this concept. Maybe it’s the result of the lockstep progression through school to school to school to residency to fellowship to the stratified world of medical staffs and hospital-centric healthcare.

As a result, many physicians, and even group leaders, settle for what they’re given. The hospital says “structure it this way” and they accept it. They think that reviewing the contract is the same thing as developing and implementing a strategy for success; it’s not. The first is a form of giving in and giving up. The second is charting your own course, of putting, dare I say(?), your own interests first.

Would you rather die from the flea dip of playing it safe, of “this is how it’s done, so what control do we really have?” Or would you rather stand up and realize that you had power all along?

To do the latter means you can no longer blame and claim subjugation. To do the latter means you have to invest in yourself: time, effort, and money.

The flea can beat the dog. The David can beat the Goliath. And you, what can you do?

If you want to come along on this journey, contact me.

Mark F. Weiss

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