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CIO Unplugged 11/20/17

November 20, 2017 Ed Marx 10 Comments

The views and opinions expressed are mine personally and are not necessarily representative of current or former employers.

New York, New York

I woke up and the sun was glistening off the glass and steel skyscrapers that had become my GPS. Between them, just across the water, there she was, tall and beautiful — Lady Liberty greeting me each morning. A faithful companion reminding me of my roots and our great country. My belongings had shipped the day before, so there would be no run on the Highline today.

I showered, dressed, and began my familiar walk up Church, giving respects to Hamilton, left down Broadway, turning up Wall Street, dancing with tourists marveling at sacred Federal Hall and the Exchange. A final right on Broad where the cobblestone street forced a jump in my step, leading up to 55 Water, where I took my seat alongside my team in our shared space.

A beautiful high-rise vista, we shared views of the East River with its gorgeous bridges connecting us to Brooklyn through the harbor at its edges. We arguably had the best vantage point to observe security logistics whenever dignitaries made their way into Manhattan via heliport. We waved to presidents and popes.

Today was different. This would be my last walk through hallowed grounds of our founding fathers and fellowshipping with my team.

Shy of three years, I was the leader of our team that carried our broken division. If you observed us and knew our outcomes, you think we had been together for decades. Our bonds grew quick and deep. The urgency of our mission, our passion, and the significant time spent huddling after hours hastened our bonds.

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Our team included spouses and children who knew one another well. None of us native to this country, we were the perfect mix serving the NYC melting pot. Easily the most painful part in my decision to leave NYC was departing our team. Against all odds, our team did what others failed to do, what many said was an impossible task.

I rarely reference the organizations I serve, but NYC Health & Hospitals was special. I knew I was called here for a season of life and how it all came to pass implied providence. Public health is vital to the greater good and I was honored to make a contribution, however small in the bigger picture.

Reporting to the CEO, the experience opened my eyes to the critical role of public health in our society. The specific NYC mission fills many gaps in caring for everyone regardless of status or ability to pay. We had routine meetings with City Hall to ensure alignment and accountability with municipal leaders. Each time at City Hall I would sneak off and spend time in the rooms set aside to pay homage to our founding fathers. It was sacred ground that reaffirmed my calling to healthcare service.

I grew as a leader during my tenure. Many blogs and ideas were inspired by the experience. The exposure to political nuances was both awe-inspiring and an insightful awakening. I gained appreciation for the inner workings of government and the challenges of balancing the needs and welfare of arguably the greatest city on earth. Frustrating at times, I loved her.

Serving in public health also fulfilled one of the remaining aspects of my career strategic plan that I developed with my 2004 mentor, Mr. Zenty, the CEO of University Hospitals. I intentionally served in academic medical centers, community-based hospitals, integrated delivery systems, faith-based systems, and in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. I served in a mix of ambulatory and acute care environments. Armed with this experience, I knew without a doubt that my greatest affinity centered on academic medicine. When the opportunity came about to serve as a senior leader of perhaps the greatest health delivery system on Earth, I did not hesitate. Except for my team.

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In fact, it has taken me 70 days to express myself via this blog. I am thankful to have visited with my NYC squad several times since leaving as our friendships remain strong. We learned so much on our journey, but perhaps purposefully, enjoying the moment was the most profound. We all tend to rush here and there and mindfulness gets lost in the stress and adrenalin of crisis and deadlines.

We took deliberate time in each meeting to reflect. We took time weekly to be social. We planned time monthly to bring together families and play. Almost quarterly we gathered somewhere around the country to celebrate life. We cried. We laughed. We jumped into frigid oceans. We ate foods that made us cringe. We lifted each other. We saw sports. We saw Broadway. We made mistakes. We shopped. We served. We saw comedy. We saw stars. We danced. We cooked. We walked. We ran. We held hands. We prayed. We screamed. We talked deeply. We consoled. We counseled. We encouraged. We learned. We challenged. We conquered. We played tricks. We accomplished. We smiled. We won.

If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

edmarx

Ed encourages your interaction by clicking the comments link below. He can be followed on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Currently there are "10 comments" on this Article:

    • This reads like a college freshman’s first foray into blogging their “life adventure” rather than meaningful industry commentary.

      “I was the leader of our team that carried our broken division. If you observed us and knew our outcomes, you think we had been together for decades.”

      Please leave the self-fellating to social media.

  1. I have been a reader of HIStalk for several years and have always enjoyed these articles along with the industry news to keep us sharp . I have not sensed a lot of negativity like this post has kindled with people and I am not sure why. Ed has been posting his blogs for awhile and always been candid about it and that’s what attracted many of us to read his blogs all this time. I think when this article is read out of context ,it might look like it is self promotion but having worked with him in NY for the last few years I know this is coming from his heart. I am appreciative of his leadership and the humanness that he brought to his job and his ability to practice what he preached. He is reminiscing the good times NY offered him at work and life in general before life carried him to another adventure. Peace everyone!!
    Good luck Ed! NY team appreciates the vision and the path laid for us.

    • This article is so vague it amounts to platitude. What is my takeaway as a reader? That Ed did such a great job and he has so many noble goals as part of his life mission? Thanks, Ed.

      He talks about how great his team was so much – but doesn’t mention any of their names or specific accomplishments. This piece belongs on a personal blog or in a typed and printed farewell given in person to the people involved.

  2. It’s great to see that Ed was so impactful on the NYC H+H IT “broken division” in his continuing quest to save the world. The 90% of IT that he did not manage continued to provide service and deliver new systems (ERP, VNA, LAB, RCM) on time and without his help, while the Epic project fell further and further behind schedule.

    The Epic delays are adding millions to the IT budget. A project that was supposed to be completed in 2018 now is projected to 2021. The 3 Epic sites continue to complain about poor operations, with hundreds of open change requests, a complete replacement of the order sets, and a redesign of the home health modules. Ed’s leadership ran the Epic train off the rails.

    Ed’s concern for his H+H team shows well in the globe trotting, high life they all led while at H+H. So much so that he hired his Number 2 away just days after resigning, with the expectation to pull more out soon. There was no Number 3, so he left the 300 person Epic project leaderless.

    Thinking about it, though, he might do H+H a favor by pulling them all out. Then H+H might be able to bring competent leadership in to run this critical project.

  3. While I’m usually pretty forgiving about individual stylistic variations, I will say that I found Ed’s final paragraph excessive.

    By that point Ed had communicated his message very adequately. Good writing involves considering the needs and preferences of the audience. When you keep revisiting the same point over and over again you violate this rule.

    Best to leave the audience wanting more. Hollywood and Broadway know this. I say this not to be critical but hoping this is seen as a learning opportunity.

  4. I guess with the holiday and all I just missed this…… I’ve read Ed’s stuff (and commented on it a few times) and find this to be just dumb-founding. I’m currently engaged supporting Epic at a public health system (not NY, thank God) and for the life of me now that I’ve had a chance to see the challenges these sites face I cannot imagine what he laid out as the things he did with his team to bind them together.

    “We took deliberate time in each meeting to reflect. We took time weekly to be social. We planned time monthly to bring together families and play. Almost quarterly we gathered somewhere around the country to celebrate life. We cried. We laughed. We jumped into frigid oceans. We ate foods that made us cringe. We lifted each other. We saw sports. We saw Broadway. We made mistakes. We shopped. We served. We saw comedy. We saw stars. We danced. We cooked. We walked. We ran. We held hands. We prayed. We screamed. We talked deeply. We consoled. We counseled. We encouraged. We learned. We challenged. We conquered. We played tricks. We accomplished. We smiled. We won.”

    How about: there is nothing here (not a thing) that strikes me as appropriate leadership for an implementation in a public facility setting. I get that he appears to have rationalized his career path as some grand arc to work in a wide array of locations – I also imagine that for some portion of the staff remaining behind in NY it will feel a lot more like he hauled ass (again) just before he was fully exposed as an ineffective leader. The ‘We cooked’ is just a bit too much.

    I’m thinking Cleveland Clinic (you know the IT shop where a staff member admitted to biking them of millions of dollars) will be a great next place to land. Perhaps we’ll soon be hearing about the team building yoga classes, or macrame, or soap making. Wait – how about a 3 minute group hum and hug session at the start of each shift?

    I don’t mean to be overly harsh, but the longer that I do this work the more I have limited patience for leadership that squanders opportunities to actually lead teams and implementations to success.

    • In hindsight, many of us here think Ed’s goal at NYC H+H was to improve the Marx brand prior to moving on before the sheriff rode into town.

      There are a lot of smart people at Cleveland Clinic. We are already taking bets on how soon it will be before they catch onto his schtick. I’m betting two years.







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