Some of you may be familiar with Jim Collins’ best-selling book, Good to Great. It is based on five years of research and details innovative concepts to put businesses on the trajectory toward greatness. After Good to Great was published, Collins came out with a small monograph called Good to Great and the Social Sectors, based on his preliminary research in the social sector. In that work, he offers concepts to boost the greatness of social institutions, including hospitals.
Although the monograph is short, it is filled with interesting observations and useful information, and definitely worth a read. But I have to admit, the lesson from the book that stuck with me as most useful for hospitals that are developing strategic social media plans wasn’t from Collins, but from his former colleague, the late Professor John Gardner (best known for his classic text, Self Renewal).
In the opening paragraph of Good to Great and the Social Sectors, Collins discloses his own quest for greatness. In his first year on the faculty at Stanford in 1988, he wanted to become a better teacher. He asked Gardner for guidance. In response, Gardner told Collins, “…You spend too much time trying to be interesting. Why don’t you invest some more time being interested?” Collins said Gardner’s answer “stung,” but admits, it changed his life.
I’ve read and re-read Gardner’s advice, and have decided that it is the perfect credo for hospitals that want to build a successful social media effort. Stop trying to be interesting and invest more time in being interested.
Stop trying to have the most interesting e-book, Facebook page, YouTube channel or Tweets. Instead, be more interested in your patients, their families, your communities, your physicians and your employees.
Be interested in their needs and interested in how to best offer online support. Be interested in how recently released patients are healing and consider where an online community might be able to offer support. Be interested in how you can help far-away family members feel connected. Be interested in how to relieve the anxiety of anxious parents. Be interested in how to accommodate the extended family of a newborn. Be interested in the spiritual needs of patients and families and how you can connect them with local religious leaders.
It is only by being interested that we can have the insight to develop useful online tools, resources, connections and communities that will prove interesting enough for our constituents to want to access.