Family matters

There are recurrent and compelling themes that seem to cross all of our relationships. This time, I am talking about “family values.”

Without any conscious plan or motivation, it appears that we all are embedded within families that adopt rules and boundaries within which we live most comfortably and effectively. One could relate these rules to the policies and procedures that we carefully write and catalogue within our academic environment. These regulations are usually formatted to inform individuals as to how to function within groups, or families.

There are other important norms that we also take for granted. They are usually relegated to the “common sense” category. As an example, I know that we have incorporated statements of “citizenship” in our personnel evaluations, but I am not so certain that with full fidelity we can create the measure and metric that we can apply. Yet, when there are issues, these concepts are typically the ones that are most confounding and difficult to adjudicate and manage.

How can you measure commitment, dedication or team spirit? How does one measure loyalty? These elements are no more easy to estimate than trying to measure the quality of a marriage or the love that we offer our children.

Day to day, there is much to do, and clearly the work is what garners our attention moment by moment. Compelling and motivating us is the passion for this work of service and the social good that it generates. Of course, I am speaking about what matters most to those who are a part of the Brody School of Medicine family. This attitude and energy really matter to us.

There is evidence that there are family values from elsewhere that are evolutionary beyond our current state. I am learning that some institutions have managed to create a culture that has fully embraced a layer of accountability deep within the institution where all of the values of the organization exist. These layers exist throughout the institution and not just in the administrative structure. These layers are able to create “best practices” – and hear this – “without any guidance or direction from their managers.” In this way they have found new efficiencies and are thriving as a result.

I am thinking that these groups somehow embraced their family values in some new and very significant way and are able to function with full fidelity throughout the organization for the benefit of the whole. They call this a “pervasive culture of performance improvement.”

How can they do that?


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