The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine personally and are not necessarily representative of current or former employers.
Why I Fired and Then Rehired Myself
The capstone of holiday seasons past has been The Plunge: leaping into the icy waters of Lake Erie wearing nothing but swim trunks. Each New Year’s Day, we Cleveland Triathlon Club members gingerly — if not insanely — worked our way across the snow and ice then charged into the lake. Once we reached waist-high water, we crowned our feat with a head-first dive. Like an arctic baptism, the Plunge symbolically washed away the old and welcomed the new.
A few years back, I used this event as the demarcation point for firing and rehiring myself. I plan to do the same as we head into 2011. I think we all should give ourselves the pink slip.
A few years ago, Intel was losing market share and profitability. Consequently, the company floundered. Knowing it was a matter of time before the Board would take mending actions, the leadership (Grove, Moore) discussed a particular phenomenon they’d observed. Nearly every time a company or division installed new leadership or brought in consultants, their outcomes improved.
Their conclusion: the new leader came in energized and with a fresh pair of eyes. Knowing they were being evaluated, he or she took their responsibility more seriously than the former, uninspired leader.
Subsequently, Intel’s old leadership had a brainstorm. Why not fire themselves and come back to the job as the new leaders? They said:
If existing management want to keep their jobs when the basics of the business are undergoing profound change, they must adopt an outsider’s intellectual objectivity.
They fired themselves over a weekend. After shifting markets (from memory chips to microprocessors), Intel became the clear leader in a very competitive market.
At that time, I worked for University Hospital. Although neither the hospital nor IT were in dire circumstances as Intel was, we needed to guard against complacency. I challenged my leaders to follow my example and take time over the holidays to reflect. Pondering how you would approach your position as a new employee is a healthy and worthy assignment.
Look at yourself as a potential candidate for your position. How will you evaluate the talent, change processes, and adjust the service mix? Should you alter your interactions with customers, your personal engagement, or your attitude? Will you embrace ideas you formerly rejected or feared? What strategies and tactics will you deploy to ensure business and clinical convergence with the health system? Do you have the fortitude to remove employees who add no value? Are you stretching the boundaries of innovation? Do you demonstrate courage despite resistance? How will you be a better servant…? The variations are endless.
To survive, you probably won’t need to change anything you’re doing. But to thrive means constantly reinventing yourself and operating differently. As a team, we embraced change, adopted an innovation-oriented culture, and began to walk in the fullness of our authority. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.
Several other UH leaders fired and rehired themselves that New Year’s Day of 2007. The result? We experienced a dramatic shift moving from transactional to transformational services that had a net impact on our business and clinical operations. Our business, quality, and service metrics shot up to new heights. I experienced exponential growth, both personally and professionally.
Since I no longer live by the Great Lakes, I have to find a new point of demarcation. By the time you read this, I will have hang glided over the Swiss Alps (JungFrau). At the moment I leap off the mountain into the alpine chill, I will fire myself as CIO. An internal shakeup. I’ll let the present perceptions of my role plummet to the icy depths.
By the dawn of the New Year, I’ll find innovative eyes to view the future. Only then will I rehire myself.
Are you willing to give yourself the pink slip?
Thank you for the comments, both positive and negative. I really liked the idea about being re-interviewed by your staff in this sort of process…have to incorporate that somehow going forward. Clearly I can’t respond to every comment, but as always, readers are welcome to contact me directly where we could further exchange ideas. Happy New Year!
Ed Marx is a CIO currently working for a large integrated health system. Ed encourages your interaction through this blog. Add a comment by clicking the link at the bottom of this post. You can also connect with him directly through his profile pages on social networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook and you can follow him via Twitter — user name marxists.