Kenneth and Ben’s Upholstery

With these blogs, I have made a clear association between my personal and professional experiences. Each influences the other in significant ways.

This Jamaica shop shows a unique way of working together.

The last few days have offered the opportunity to learn in support of leadership. For me, sometimes, it takes a distracting set of personal real-world experiences to gain insight on the journey to clarity.

First came the visit from the Liaison Committee for Medical Education and the accreditation review of our school. We have received their draft report and have responded. There were no surprises. The snapshot of our educational programs revealed that our purposes and goals align with the “purple and gold.” Our faculty members are dedicated to the success of our students, and we remain steadfast in support of our tripartite mission. Bottom line is that we have done well, and now we must do better!

The last couple of days have been spent at the Council of Deans spring meeting in Florida. This was a very useful meeting as there was the opportunity to explore the boundaries of medical education and health care with the other deans from across the nation. Linking our health system to the real social and economic needs of the communities that we serve was one of the major themes. As you know, the Brody School of Medicine has ranked seventh in the nation in this regard, so we had something to contribute to the conversation.

Florida is about an hour and 50 minutes from my mother in Jamaica, so I decided to stop in for a couple of days before returning home to Greenville. She lives in the center of the island in the mountains.

So, having come from Miami where the hotels and services are “over the top” to a county town in Jamaica where a hotel upgrade means air conditioning and hot running water on demand, there was sufficient contrast for some reality-checking. (Add spring break in full swing in Miami for additional distraction!)

As you may have recognized, we have been seriously engaged in talks with our partners at Vidant Health with regard to clinical integration. Not so obvious is the fact that the complexity in creating a full strategic alignment comes from the fact that we often duplicate services and functions. Almost invariably, we are both proud and satisfied of the quality and value of these services. Double helpings of motherhood and apple pie!

During a customary walk at dawn in Jamaica, I was thinking about “the Brody” and happened by Kenneth OR Ben’s upholstery shop, just down the road from “Lane” in Mandeville. Back engineering the thought process could offer insight into the decision-making for the wording of the sign. The sign on the wall of the establishment perhaps signaled a complex process of negotiation between Kenneth and Ben.

Rent and costs are expensive, and in a micro-economy where survival depends on meager margins, the most efficient deployment would necessitate sharing of the costs. Further, for efficiency, one telephone number, with an efficient “back-office” triage system would be optimal. For customer retention, the product must be of high quality and competitive in a very dynamic marketplace.

Kenneth and Ben are very smart people. Whenever I visit next, I’ll look for the next evolution in the business relationship. I am predicting that the sign will say Kenneth AND/or Ben’s upholstery.

Can you make the connections? How efficient do we need to be with health care reform in full implementation? What are the plausible scenarios in the future for Kenneth and Ben? What do you think?


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