Thanks to the many of you who submitted examples of efforts that have eradicated a social problem or gotten close in response to our recent blog post, Eradicating a Social Problem – Who’s Actually Done It?
As we, at Community Wealth Partners, have begun to study these transformational efforts, we are finding more and more compelling examples to support what Bill Shore articulated in his post about the exponential growth of Share Our Strength, Sharing Our Growth: Go Big or Go Home. That is the following:
- To achieve transformation, you have to set transformational goals. If you set incremental goals, your achievements will be incremental.
- Setting transformational goals, which often implies that you will travel the last mile on the journey to solve a problem, takes courage!
Here is one of those very compelling examples.
One of our board members, Lee Carter, has been a trustee of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for years, and tells one of the most inspiring stories I’ve heard in a long time about the power of setting transformational goals.
In 1994, the leadership of Cincinnati Children’s, which Carter describes as a good regional hospital back then, decided to change the game. It set a vision stating that it would be “the leader in improving child health.” It didn’t want to be the leader just in Ohio or in the United States, but rather in the world. Carter put it as follows: “Once you make a statement like this, it changes everything. It changes the people you hire and the expectations of the people who work there. It inspires everyone to be their best.”
When Cincinnati Children’s set its sights on this vision, it set transformational goals to accompany it. For example, unfortunately, all hospitals have human mistakes that just shouldn’t happen. And, with one million patient encounters each year at Cincinnati Children’s, the odds of having a human mistake that could hurt a child are high. Yet, Cincinnati Children’s set a target of having zero such incidents. Not one, not two, but zero. Why? Because who in their right mind would say that it’s okay to harm one or two children? No one! Most importantly, by changing the goal, it changed the outcome. Today, the hospital has dramatically reduced the number of such incidents in the hospital.
Interestingly, by declaring that it would be the leader and be better, it got bigger. In 1994, the hospital had 3,000 employees. Today it has 12,500. In 1994, it had approximately $350M in revenue. Today it has $1.7B. As Carter says, “We never said we were going to get bigger. We said we were going to get better, and we grew.”
I admire the leadership of Cincinnati Children’s for their bold ambitions. Too often we set incremental goals because we don’t want to face the risk of failure. Yet, if we keep setting incremental goals, we will only achieve incremental results. We have a moral imperative to set our sights on going the last mile.
If we want to change the outcomes for those who are vulnerable or voiceless, we all have to have the courage to change the goals!