Every Meeting Starts With a Story

Last week I went to the Colorado HFMA sponsored conference on the uninsured and under-insured. One of the presenters a Gary VanderArk, MD presented a story about Doctors Care. This is a program founded over twenty years ago to provide an accessible medical care to the uninsured and underinsured in Arapaho County, Colorado.

This program has become a model for counties around the country as a model to deliver affordable and accessible care to those who would otherwise be unable to afford it.  He said something as he was describing how the program worked. He said each meeting each board meeting starts with a story.

Recently I have been reacquainting myself with Stephen Covey’s book the 7- Habits of Highly Effective People.  He talks about how it is important each week as we are planning our week to reconnect with our mission. Think about that story.  Each time we tell a story about how we’ve solved a customer’s problem, or how we’ve reduced and expense, or even how we’ve developed a new solution, we engage the emotional side of each of the stakeholders at the meeting.  That’s key.

Regardless of what people say, most decisions are emotional.  I know this. When I was in college, I minored in philosophy, specifically logic, with the idea that if I could create the perfect syllogism, I could rule the world.  Ask me, “How that’s working?”

Back to the story.
When we take the time to be clear about our mission and then to seek out the stories that support that mission.  We create a powerful tool to drive performance.  For example:

A few months ago when hurricane “Ike”, hit Galveston, Texas, one of our customers had their call-center flooded.  They asked us if we could give them a price on providing interim customer service for their customers.  After scoping the project and determining, the volume was not great, our Director decided to offer this support for free.

Now, I didn’t it did not cost a lot of money or resources for us but for the customer,… it was priceless. It gave them room to get back on their feet. It demonstrated to them the kind of company we are and how we respond to crisis.

Now as a leader, think about this story. What if you were meeting with your team about the need to re-enforce service as a value in the organization. What values does this story re-enforce? When faced with a customer service issue, do your managers now have a vision of what service looks like?

Start every meeting with a story

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