April 6, 2011

MMGMA Spring Conference and Coach Carr

by Lean Fox

Coach Lloyd Carr and Todd SperlAs a consultant it is always good to attend conferences and workshops. They allow me the opportunity to listen and learn, as well as get a pulse on what others are doing to improve the patient experience. At the recent Michigan Medical Group Management Association (MMGMA) Spring Conference along with excellent speakers presenting on relevant and timely topics (e.g., ACO, PCMH, and BCBSM PGIP), the keynote speaker was Coach Lloyd Carr, University of Michigan Football Coach (retired).  

I’ll be honest. When I got the MMGMA email announcing that Coach Carr was the keynote speaker I had mixed emotions. While not a Michigan alum I thought he was a great coach and was excited to hear him speak in person; however, I wondered, “what does Coach Carr know about healthcare?” It turns out a lot!  During his appearance, Coach Carr talked about leadership, tradition, and the pursuit of excellence.

These are topics relevant to any industry whether you’re running a major football program, COO of a hospital or managing a high volume physician practice. Carr told a story of a champion bull rider he met while coaching a bowl game. He asked this young man how are you so successful? The bull rider said, “I remind myself everyday that the bull doesn’t give a damn about what I did yesterday.” I find this story very relevant to healthcare. Care givers need to remember that each patient is different and they could care less about what you did the day before. While the job is the same to you every day, the experience is new to that patient who is counting on your expertise.    

Coach Carr also emphasized that as leaders, you need to communicate your expectations to your team (or staff), your priorities, what you need from them and always let them know how they are doing. Great advice since healthcare workers are always busy and these core items tend to get neglected.

Prior to his talk, as he waited quietly in the back of the room, Coach Carr shook hands with several MMGMA members, me being one of them. Carr looked at my shirt, grinned and said, “Lean Fox…I could use your help to lose weight.” We both chuckled and he moved on to the next person. Maybe he sensed how nervous I was to shake his hand. He could have easily brushed me off, but he went the extra mile to make that brief moment memorable for me (and him). I truly enjoyed getting the chance to meet Lloyd Carr.

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