Innovation Junkies Podcast

Craig Deao on Innovation & Organizational Transformation

The Jeffs talk with speaker and author Craig Deao, the Managing Director of Huron Consulting Group. They unpack: where culture fits into organizational transformation, why businesses often deflect innovation restraints, & what to do with the gift of failure.

Jeff Standridge: This is Jeff Standridge, and this is the Innovation Junkies Podcast. If you want to drastically improve your business, learn proven growth strategy and generate sustained results for your organization, you’ve come to the right place. Over the next half hour, we’re going to be sharing specific strategies, tactics and tips that you can use to grow your business. No matter the size, no matter the industry, no matter the geography. Weekly, we’ll bring in a top mover and shaker, someone who’s done something unbelievable with his or her business and we’ll dig deep. We’ll uncover specific strategies, tactics, and tools that they’ve used to help you achieve your business goals. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.

Hey guys, if you’re looking to put your business on the fast track to achieving sustained strategic growth, this episode is sponsored by the team at Innovation Junkie. To learn more about our growth DX, go to innovationjunkie.com/growthdx. Now let’s get on with the show.

Jeff Standridge: Hey guys. Welcome to another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. My name is Jeff Standridge.

Jeff Amerine: And this is Jeff Amerine. Glad to be back on.

Jeff Standridge: Hi, it’s good to be here, man. You’re doing well.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah, I’m just glad my contract was renewed. I always wondered when network’s going to tell me I’m off the show. So I’m so glad to be here.

Jeff Standridge: Just watch yourself, you never know.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah, I will.

Jeff Standridge: Hey, we’ve got a great episode today, Jeff. We’ve got Craig Deao and I had the opportunity of meeting Craig at a Healthcare Governance Conference where he was a speaker and spoke a lot about innovation and organizational change and leadership. And I took copious amounts of notes and so we invited him to join us on the podcast and really glad that he’s here today. He’s the managing director with Huron consulting group. He’s a speaker, he’s an author. He’s an industry thought leader, certainly an accomplished at executive and board member, helping leaders create better places to work, practice medicine and receive care. In 2016, he wrote The E-Factor: How Engaged Patients, Clinicians, Leaders, and Employees Will Transform Healthcare. He has a couple of bachelor’s degrees from Louisiana State University. We won’t hold that against him at all. He received a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of Minnesota, and he now lives in Pensacola. Craig, great to have you with us today. And I have to say, go Hogs.

Craig Deao: Thanks, Jeffs. And yeah, in other years we had people like Joe Burrow on our team, I would talk a little trash, but I don’t know how much trash I’m going to talk. Let’s talk again in like December.

Jeff Standridge: Yeah, no doubt. Same here. So I’ve learned over the last several years, really to almost never talk trash because it doesn’t end well.

Jeff Amerine: That’s actually a really good segue. That’s a good segue to something we do is kind of an icebreaker. And that is to talk a little bit about what our favorite spectator sport is. So we’ll start with you, Craig. What’s your favorite spectator sport.

Craig Deao: Well, so on TV, yeah, I am an LSU Tiger and a Saints fan. And so football is on my list. Although I only watch those teams. I’m not in the luxury of viewing all day Sunday, mostly that’s because the spectator sport I view live is 11 year old boy soccer. So my youngest son, Jack is a very competitive soccer player. He’s gone all over the region with this young team already. He’s got the hair to show for it. He’s got, I think they call that good flow. And so his nickname was halfway to a man bun because all of his idols that are these college kids that help him out, have got the full man bun and he’s rocking it pretty well at 11. So that makes for an entertaining spectator sport. How about you?

Jeff Standridge: Mine is definitely football. Preferably college football, I have a season tickets to the local UCA Bears here. The State University that’s located here in our own community. Both of my kids went to University of Arkansas. So also grew up being a Hog fan. NFL is probably number two, but pretty much a high degree of interest in watching college football. Amerine.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah, I’m a college football nut and I don’t actually go to the games because I don’t like being in massive crowds of people and not able to see, I don’t want to miss anything. So I’m normally all day Saturday starting with ESPN game day, called it game day, glued to the TV, and live and die by two teams, the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Navy Midshipman. That’s my Alma Mater. But this year I think they should just send the football team to play lacrosse because we’re only in two and the prospects are not good at Navy, but Arkansas is doing amazing.

Jeff Standridge: Is lacrosse a sport?

Jeff Amerine: I thought that went out at part of the century about 120 years ago, but first time I ever saw that play was at the Naval Academy. And I’m like, what are those guys doing running around with sticks, is that field hockey, what is that? So anyway, I learned.

Jeff Standridge: Well, Craig, once again, thanks for being with us today. At innovation Junkie, we focus on helping organizations achieve a sustained strategic growth. And what we find is innovation, organizational transformation, and the leadership required to make all that happen are kind of the three fundamentals of that. And so would love to just maybe kick the conversation off. As I said, I heard you speak at the Texas Healthcare Governance Conference and I haven’t heard a lot of people talk about those three things together. Usually people are talking about innovation or they’re talking about organizational transformation or they’re talking about leadership. And so I’d love to hear your thoughts on how those three domains intersect together and just get your perspective there.

Craig Deao: Yeah. Well first, thanks for having me on. It was terrific to connect with you through that session and really appreciated the opportunity with the Texas Healthcare Association and the trustees. So this is right in our wheelhouse. I mean, for the last 20 years, we’ve been helping healthcare organizations transform themselves. And I would say initially a lot of the work that we were doing was really focused on two of the domains we talked about. I mean, it was about transforming the organization mostly through culture, which is if you unpack that, an awful lot of human behavior change, incentives, structures, evidence-based sort of leader standard work practices. In recent years though, the dynamic of the environment that they’re in is so different that innovation became, I think, front and center of how we want to transform ourselves. I would say really in the last decade, through the ’80s, not a lot of change happening. In the ’90s, trying to put like quality as a definition and good quality improvements.

In the early 2000s, I think there was a lot of adoption of better practices from leading organizations and trying to embrace this whole issue of patient safety, which hit that industry really tough. But now that we’re faced with this era where, I mean, my belief is at some point, people are going to get care, how they want when they want, where they want, for the price they want. And they’re either going to get it from their incumbent local provider or from somebody else maybe digitally, if we’re not really innovating on how we’re delivering care and how we’re providing that care and all the leadership structures around that, then there really might not be a sustainable future. So innovation is critical if you’re going to achieve effective leadership and organizational change.

Jeff Amerine: As a follow-up to that, we touch on some of that as well. And we have some healthcare related clients and you see the energy and the interest and the directionality that the providers are heading the right direction. One of the fears I have is that the regulators are still somewhere between the Korean war and the Vietnam war. And you’re thinking in terms of what’s happening. I’d be curious on your perspective, do you see the regulators catching up to allow for some of these better practices, better innovation, better technology to actually be implemented?

Craig Deao: Well, first of all, my least favorite phrase I hear when I facilitate strategic planning, when I say, you’re going to do A or B, the response is, well, we’ll wait and see what happens in Washington. I just wouldn’t advise that as a strategy, right? So you have to do a little scenario planning in this, and it’s true that if you look at something like telehealth, right, like why was telehealth only half of 1% of outpatient visits prior to COVID and then went up to north of half of that last April, and now the baseline somewhere around 5%. So it’s like 10X greater than it was. You say that regulation was part of that. You could say, certainly reimbursement was part of that. But the one that we don’t talk enough about is our own business models and proof of that, is in the pandemic, the regulatory and the reimbursement issues were shoved to the side for emergency purposes, which is really important. So we got to experiment a lot in this.

And coming out of that, some organizations to say, wow, it turns out there’s a whole new way we can deliver care. And if these payers pay us for this, and some of the regulations remain lax, that we could actually do some things in this space, but I would say that for most organizations and most consumers, because of the way that they have operated historically, the way we’ve always done things here, and the way that we’re structured, we’re going to go back to doing things pretty similar to how we would before, which is really a statement about to what extent it’s our own business model choice. And I’m not saying that’s an easy one, but no doubt regulation has stymied some innovation, but even when regulations are relaxed, there are still other barriers to adoption and innovation.

And that’s where I like to focus, right. So what can we do? And certainly we should lobby together and be vocal about the things that need to change. And yes, we can sort of wine a little bit that some of our competitive entrance in this space don’t have the same regulations and parts of the things they do. All true, true, true. Yeah, there are probably some things we can do in this space, especially when there’s so much that sort of pause on regulatory issues, where we can innovate a little on the business model side.

Jeff Standridge: I’ve said before, telehealth has been around for a long time, and as you said, half of a percent or so adoption rate, it’s the presence of that constraint that really caused us to say, okay, the constraint of the pandemic, for instance, that caused us to start maybe taking that adoption from a half a percent to 40, 50%. Talk a little bit about your perspective on the presence of constraints or the role that constraint plays in both innovation and organizational change.

Craig Deao: Yeah. Innovation loves constraint. So the classic example of this is if you ask a group of people to brainstorm new ideas, they just kind of look at you like deer in the headlines, but the smaller you shrink that box and ask them to innovate in this tiny space, the better the ideas become. And I think it’s same with some of these industry constraints that we’ve been in. The old expression that necessity is the mother of invention. I mean, it’s a phrase that we all know and love because it’s true. I mean, some of the most creative endeavors you find are because people problem solve their way out of situations.

And it’s why I really like the innovation space because it’s a hopeful space to live in. It’s a space about imagining what if’s and future states and not so much about present forward thinking, but future back thinking, how do we go live in a future state where these constraints don’t exist, design what the ideal state is, and then sort of put it into the box with the current constraints and think about how we would step wise enter that future world, given the constraints that we have right now.

And of course we’ve got constraints, nobody I’ve ever worked with has enough staffing, enough budget. Everyone has too much regulation. And by the way, these were constraints, when I started doing this work two decades ago, it’s the same thing. It’s just a matter of degree. Yet there’s still an awful lot of beautiful innovation when people really shrink the world down to the place where they want to innovate.

Jeff Standridge: So tell us a little bit about your engagement with clients in the innovation and organizational change space. What does a normal engagement look like for you guys?

Craig Deao: Well, there’s a whole range. I think first I’ll talk a little bit, who us guys are, right? So when I joined this team, it was to be a member of the executive group of a company called Studer Group back in 2006. And we were really focused on the organizational culture and leadership customer service, employee engagement, physician alignment issues, really in healthcare. We became part of Huron Consulting about six years ago, and then a year or two after that Innosight joined and Innosight is formed by Clay Christensen and colleagues out of Harvard Business School. And so a lot of the innovation work that they’ve brought has been fused into what we do. And so it’s been fun to take some of the principles that they do with fortune 50 organizations and bring that into other sectors, especially, higher ed and healthcare.

So a lot of the work we do in innovation, I’ll give you an example. We’ve been engaged by a federal organization for a number of years on their healthcare side to help create a culture of high reliability. And a few years ago, they asked us to come up and brainstorm a bit with the center of innovation at the same organization. And they said, how do you create an organizational culture that aspires to be highly reliable and innovative at the same time? Because one says to be fail proof and the other says to be fail safe, how can those co-exist?

And when you look at those and go into the literature on how you create both highly reliable, safe organizations and innovative organizations, and look at commonalities, it’s about those common cultures. And one of the common cultural attributes are cultures of psychological safety, to be safe and to be innovative, you need places where people feel safe to speak up, to say things to not feel embarrassed. And that is a ton of training and development and incentives and behavior change. And that’s where we get involved. We’re really good at intentionally shaping behaviors that leaders, role model and coach for others that perpetuate those kind of aspirational culture states.

Jeff Standridge: What would you say is the number one impediment to creating that safe space that you’ve experienced, as you’ve worked with organizations?

Craig Deao: Well, I started from a place of assuming no ill intent. And so I think that the leaders in organizations that I’ve had the privilege of working with want do the right thing. And I think too often, they haven’t had the training and skills to be successful in that, or they haven’t had the right system of rewards, behaviors and accountability to shape those behaviors virtuously in that right direction. And if you take an unskilled leader out of that context and put them in an environment that is supportive of psychological safety, suddenly they do all the right things.

And I’m increasingly convinced that training is insufficient. I haven’t found it helpful to go to a group of leaders and say, “Hey, you need to be more open to people’s ideas.” And then suddenly that changes anything. I’m more convinced that having standard practices, expected practices occur that enable certain behaviors and make the right thing, the easy thing to do are the way to do that. And I can share examples of that, but there’s lots of very specific things that organizations do to manifest this rather than just sort of do the training stuff, which is important. It’s necessary. It’s just insufficient.

Jeff Standridge: I’d love for you to unpack that a little bit and maybe give us a couple of examples if you don’t mind.

Craig Deao: Yeah. I mean, here’s my very favorite. So we often tell the story of DBS, which it was an acronym I never even heard of before, but it used to stand for the Development Bank of Singapore. There are client of Innosight’s and when they were engaged, their new CEO had a vision that was pretty bold. It was expressed as an acronym GANDALF, sorry, Lord of the Ring fans, not that one. The acronym GANDALF was for Google, Amazon, Netflix, DBS, Apple, LinkedIn, Facebook. They wanted to be associated with that. They want to be at the forefront of this FinTech revolution, transforming financial services digitally. The challenge was the reputation was anything but, this is a stodgy developmental bank reputation where innovation was pretty low. And so they had this bold aspiration, but what they were seeing was that around the table, there was no culture where people would surface ideas, be innovative, embrace change.

And they realized that most of these people spent their days in meetings and their meetings were pretty stolid doll affairs, like most meetings. And so, you can take a few approaches to this, you could train people how to have more effective meetings or the rest, or hire a facilitator like me to come conduct your meetings. But what they found more effective was to create what they call a BEAN, behavior, enabler, artifact, and nudge. I love that acronym. And one of the BEANs was to have MOJO meetings. So here’s the way this works. And the way the meeting used to work is the highest ranking person would call the meeting. They’d have an agenda. They’d facilitate it. When there was a question about what to do, that person would usually speak up with an idea and everybody else would go like, well, you’re the highest paid person. So yeah, that’s probably right. And no other ideas come to the table.

In MOJO meetings, they deal a deck of cards out. Somebody becomes the MO, which stands for meeting owner. Somebody becomes the JO, which stands for joyful observer. And now suddenly to random people in the meetings have formal roles to play. The meeting owner runs the agenda, keeps it on time, ensure people’s voices are heard. They do a really cool thing called 3S1R. That stands for three solutions and one recommendation. So if they hear a solution, maybe from the boss, they have to hear two other possible solutions before they can consider which of those becomes a recommendation. And it forces, it makes it habitual that somebody else has to speak up and speak truth to power. So maybe the junior person says, well, I mean, the boss’s idea was certainly the right one, but I guess if I had to say another thing, maybe I’d say this.

And sometimes those things are great. But the magic of these meetings is the JO, the joyful observer rates the meeting owner, and make sure they actually do their job effectively. And so it’s this truth I’ve learned in 20 years that cultures of innovation have to have cultures of high accountability where the expected thing actually happens. And that requires expectations, training and monitoring this sort of virtuous cycle. So I love that one because it’s so tactical, right? 3S1R MOJO meetings. Like anybody can implement that. And it’s going to be much more effective than training a bunch of people to be open-minded.

Jeff Amerine: Hey folks, we’ll be right back with the episode. But first we want to tell you about a limited opportunity to take advantage of our growth DX. For a limited time, we’re offering a free strategy call to see whether our unique diagnostic tool is right for you. Go to innovationjunkie.com/growthdx to learn more.

And we’ve seen somewhat mechanical stuff like that come out of Gino Wickman’s book and traction. And some of the ways he talks about conducting the weekly problem solving meetings. And there’s elements of that that are a little bit like the lateral thinking you’d get from Edward de Bono, where there’s assigned roles, so that people aren’t thinking linearly, they’re thinking with a specific point of view, whether it’s just the facts or whether it’s what could go wrong, the risk management, or whether it’s the upside kind of role. That’s really cool and very simple acronym. I wrote that down furiously, as you were saying, it that’s really a good one.

Craig Deao: Yeah. I loved it when I heard it, it was so elegant.

Jeff Standridge: What do you tell executives that bring you in that have been just, whether it’s by brute force or whatever methodology they’re using, they’ve just been toughening it out to try to drive change or innovation or changing the organization’s. What do you tell them?

Craig Deao: I don’t know that it’s ever the same thing twice. I think, circumstances are different about what the obstacle might be. So understanding exactly what the point of innovation is. I think it’s really important. I tell you, at least the space I’ve played in our team has played in. It’s rare that we go in and explicitly to create innovation or create an innovation structure. It’s more that there is a problem that they’re facing and it’s sourcing the ideas if through the same routes isn’t working. They’re not finding a way to be effective on the outcome that they’re achieving. So a lot of what I do upfront is just really trying to understand what the objective is, how are you going to quantify that success? What’s the diagnostic now about the barriers. And when we find that the barriers are cultural issues, often we’re asked to help create cultures of accountability.

But what we find is cultures of optionality where all the right stuff was said, but only 10% of the people are actually doing it right. So I think culture needs to be a by-product of the strategy that you’re trying to create. Often when I start meeting organizations, I’ll say things like we have a really strong culture, but if the culture is misaligned with the strategy, it’s a hindrance. A lot of cultures in healthcare are cultures that are really good around, cultures of results and cultures of caring. But it turns out that a cultural style of learning is the one that’s most associated with agility and innovation. And in a lot of studies, our industry is dead last on a list of other industries in creating cultures of learning and enjoyment. So if your future means a lot of agility, change, transformation, you need to have cultural styles that map towards enjoyment and learning.

And that’s not to say they don’t also produce results and caring, which are really important cultural styles, but we probably haven’t intentionally architected that into our culture. We’re not rewarding that, we’re not hiring for it, we’re not incentivizing in that. We’re not setting goals, that reward process excellence, not just outcome excellence. If all we do is hold people accountable for those outcomes, we might get lucky, or we might avoid the opportunity to experiment a bit. So it’s a lot of understanding the future state, the current state, and to what extent those cultural elements either lining up to that future state, or it might actually be an unknown barrier to it at that point.

Jeff Standridge: Do you find that frequently in organizations, you talked about those that say, oh, we have a really strong culture, that many times there’s a gap between the espoused culture, what they believe the culture is and the culture that’s actually in use. In fact, what they’re communicating to you is the culture that they see in their immediate direct reports, but they don’t see it throughout the rest of the organization. Do you see that? And if so, how do you get senior executives of an organization to realize that there is a gap between that culture in use and that espouse culture?

Craig Deao: That’s great. I think I first understood that when I read one of Patrick Lencioni’s books, and he was talking about the difference between intentional values and aspirational values or accidental values. So you’ve got that all those aspirational, intentional values that you learn in orientation. But I often remind folks the culture of the organization, the values of the organization, it’s what we value, is how we act. And so the accurate view of that is if an alien landed your organization and describe what you value, those are your values, that’s your culture. And I mean, I remember there was an organization, I always doing an assessment at and I wanted to go right through the org chart. I wanted to start with the CEO and board and then senior team managers, supervisors, frontline staff, customers. We’re going to have a whole day of meetings and flow that org chart.

And one of the issues they’re asking us about was how to improve access and become more sort of patient-centered. They had big delays. It was weeks out to be seen, lots of challenges in terms of how that culture manifests its other customers. So I asked for a meeting with the CEO and was expecting it to be like 9:30 to 10. My next meeting is at 10 and the appointment came across for an hour. I had nine to 10 and I said, “Hey, I’m grateful to have an hour of her time, but I only need 30 minutes,” and they go, “Well, she usually runs about 30 minutes late. So if we give you 60 minutes, you’ll probably get your 30 minutes in.” And wouldn’t you know, that this exact pattern played out all day to the point that when I was out in the clinics, I did ask the schedulers, what drives you crazy? They say, “Well, I hate that when I am scheduling somebody to come in at 11, I have to tell them, you should probably pack a lunch because I hate for you to miss that. And we usually run about X minutes after the appointment time.”

So you didn’t tell people that we value tardiness in your culture, but that’s definitely an attribute of what an outsider would observe of how you’re acting. So assessments are great with this. A lot of what I do is a lot of holding up the mirror to people. So asking perceptions of strengths and weaknesses compared to how other people in the org chart or customers do that and say, so help me understand why it is this team believes we’re great here, yet this team says that you’re in the bottom 10% here. Let’s have a conversation about that. And that can be freeing.

Jeff Standridge: Very good.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah. I’ll tell you what that mismatch on the brand promise if you will. That’s real. And that can typically be a pretty amazing indictment. I would imagine in healthcare in particular, not meeting scheduled times, I know it drives me crazy if you’ve got to go wait for, and what seems like an endless amount of time, and it makes you believe that these organizations don’t realize they’re in a customer service oriented business anymore, it feels like you’re dealing with an oligopoly rather than a group that has to realize that they have customers, patients have choices. They can go somewhere else.

Craig Deao: Yeah, I that’s exactly right. And look, my passion is to help healthcare organizations be successful against their missions. And one of the fears that I have is that some of the new market entrance who come from a different mission view, but are really excellent at customer engagement are going to make inroads and nibble away at those community assets to the point where their future sustainability is going to be challenged. And I applaud the free market entrance. I think having other industry traditions come into healthcare is only going to make us better. But a few years ago I wrote a book on engagement and pulled a lot from retail examples that I guess my thesis is I’d rather healthcare leaders get good at what retail knows instead of having retail start providing healthcare or I’ll accept partnerships. If we want to bring our two core competencies together, that’s probably the best scenario.

But I mean, I know from firsthand experience, as soon as I had the opportunity to get healthcare using this as somebody who used to live on an airplane before COVID sort of changed things, this is a better experience for a lot of my healthcare needs. And if my local provider is not going to do this, then they lost my business. And I have private insurance. I’m pretty healthy. I’m the kind of patient you probably want to have. And I wasn’t choosing my local provider because that basic need that I had, wasn’t really being addressed and somebody else found a way to address it.

Jeff Standridge: Let’s talk if we can, about your perspective on the role of failure, certainly in innovation, but also in longer-term organizational change.

Craig Deao: Yeah. When I think about failure, my background’s in quality and patient safety improvement. I served on the quality committee in my health system locally for about six years. And the most poignant moments I served on that committee was when we broke through all the data and the denominators. And we talked about individuals, serious safety events, and we talk about a case of a real person and how they were harmed and the root cause analysis of what we found out. And at the end of that, if they didn’t prompt at first, I’d always be the one in the room to ask, how are we going to honor the gift this person gave us of their harm so that no one else ever has to go through this. There’s power in these moments of failure and difficulty, but too often, what I find is that the actual root cause analysis wasn’t done for 60 days after the event, so how well do we actually even know the facts here?

How much is this really prioritizing the learning out of the failure? And my belief is that, failure is a gift. If we actually honor the gift that we’re given, which is learning and doing something differently out of it, I do think that too often in healthcare we don’t take enough risk. And I think part of that is that we come from this tradition that, certainly from a harm standpoint, I don’t want you taking a risk like, hey, let’s forget the surgical time out today. Let’s do a small test of change. Like we’ve got a hundred surgeries. Let’s just not do that in 10 and see what happens like, we’ll innovate. No, no, no, that’s a known good practice. Let’s not tinker with that today. But when it comes to business models and how we organize and all that, that requires massive tinkering right now.

And the only way we’re going to do that is if we don’t set our targets expecting perfection in those areas like we do on the quality side. I think too often we conflate the two, where there are areas where we should expect zero deviance from known best practice. There are other areas though, where there is no best practice. And so we have to set our targets on experiment and explore goals that allow us to tinker in those areas. And failure has to be embraced as part of that and celebrated.

But my favorites, there’s one organization, I think it’s a software company that famously celebrates successful software launches with beer and celebrates failed software successes with champagne. And when I share that example with healthcare organizations, it’s like, whoa, I mean, that’s pretty wild from where we are right now. Like, yeah, by the way, that’s an organization that has a healthcare play. Like they’re coming into our space with that kind of a mindset they’re going to try and lots of stuff, we need to get into that era where we really do small tests of change, which by the way is part of a good scientific method and quality approach, it’s not antithetical to now.

Jeff Standridge: Well, that kind of leads me to a statement that I wrote down. So I took some notes when I was listening to you in Texas a month or two ago. And one of the things that you said that I wrote down that I’d like you to expand upon, is in my notes that I have in front of me, it says a prime role of the leader is to keep hope alive. What did you mean there? And could you expand upon that?

Craig Deao: Yeah. I love that quote. First of all, it’s so flattering that you take notes, that means a lot. So there was one person out there. That’s awesome. So I think that’s the quote, I think that’s a James W. Garner who says, that a prime function of a leader is to keep hope alive. So especially now people are looking to leaders to know that there is a future state that I can get excited about. And by leaders, I mean, leaders of organizations, leaders of communities, leaders of institutions, leaders of households, leaders of families, friend networks. I mean, there needs to be some voice, I’m not saying you have to be a Pollyanna that thinks everything’s going to be sunshine and rainbows after this, but that there’s some better future state.

I’ll give you an example. I was asked to comment on, there’s an organization in Canada that recently launched a really ambitious, strategic planning effort during COVID. They set their targets at 10 years, which is, a lot further than I see a lot of folks said it, they came with some really cool visions of what they wanted to do differently. And I was commenting with the CEO, how impressed I was. And he asked if I would co present this new plan with him to his team. So he’d share the plan and how they came about and how their voice was part of that. And I give some color commentary on my thoughts and the rest. Well, at the beginning of this two hours, and this was back in June, the organizational development team asked all the folks on the broadcast to go into an app and write out a word or phrase that describes your mood right now.

And has they typed that up and it came in the screen, honestly, I’m like A, we shouldn’t have done that exercise and B, we shouldn’t be doing this talk, because the words are like; burned out, depressed, stressed, busy, frustrated. It was so depressing. Two hours later, they had heard this exciting vision about the future, how their role would be in here, how they’d be recruiting from a global workforce, how most care is not even going to be delivered in the hospital, even though their brand has the word hospital. And at the end, they asked the same question again, use a word or phrase to describe your mood right now. And the words flipped 180 degrees; hopeful, energized, excited. Now there was still a few, I think one said, questioning, doubtful. Like, I’m not sure about all this yet, but it was a great visible tactical example to me of the power right now of having a group of leaders who have a clear eyed view about what the future could be like.

To your last point about failure. How are we going to honor all the tragedy of loss, economically, health, community-wise through this period we’re in to make a better future for us out of this. And I found that could be, it’s always important to have positivity, especially now. I’ll give one more thing though. Only do that if you actually have a plan to share. So you have to have hope, but you also have to have a plan or else you do sort of it come off as Pollyanna. Like you have to give people the specific couple of things that we all need to do together if we’re going to be successful. So I wouldn’t ever deliver the hope without the plan, but those two together, I think it’s super timely.

Jeff Standridge: Hope’s not a strategy, right?

Craig Deao: Amen.

Jeff Amerine: Not by itself.

Jeff Standridge: That’s all right. Jeff, anything else you would add?

Jeff Amerine: No, I mean, I think it’s a fantastic insight and it’s reality. I think that the leader does have to set the tone. And I think you do that with the view of an optimistic view of the future. But as you said, if you can’t turn around and say, and here’s how we’re going to do it, these are the three or four things we’re going to focus on. Then it’s just hollow. It’s just a optimism without a hope of really putting something tangible in place. Really makes great sense to me.

Jeff Standridge: Well, Craig, we appreciate you for taking the time to be with us today. It’s been a pleasure having you, and I know our listeners are going to enjoy hearing you as well.

Craig Deao: It’s my pleasure too. And maybe we can meet each other, some like LSU Arkansas football game Sunday and keep the conversation going.

Jeff Standridge: Hey, that’d be fantastic.

Jeff Amerine: We’d have to tough it out to be able to do that, but I’m imagining we can figure it out.

Craig Deao: I don’t know, maybe not this year.

Jeff Standridge: We would probably need to meet before the game.

Jeff Amerine: Exactly. I’ll tell you what, if you all bring the corn dogs, we’ll bring the beer.

Craig Deao: Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey now we’ll bring the large jumbo.

Jeff Standridge: Very good. Well, Craig, thank you so much. Once again, it’s a pleasure having you with us and we look forward to maybe talking to you again in the future.

Craig Deao: This is great. Thanks for the opportunity.

Jeff Amerine: We’ll see you.

Jeff Standridge: This has been another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. Thank you for joining.

Jeff Amerine: Hey folks, this is Jeff Amerine. We want to thank you for tuning in and we sincerely appreciate your time. If you’re enjoying the Innovation Junkies Podcast, please do us a huge favor. Click the subscribe button right now and please leave us a review. It would mean the world to both of us. And don’t forget to share us on social media.

Change The Trajectory Of Your Business

Our GrowthDX package has been responsible for massive improvements in many companies. Some thought they had it figured out but had blind spots, while others knew they were missing the mark but had no idea where to start.

This is your chance to make significant breakthroughs in your organization. Don’t miss out!