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Nutrition Informatics Blog

Memorial Day: It's about Something Greater Than Themselves

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This Memorial Day Weekend, I headed (solo—no children) to my parent’s home in Bristol, Tennessee.  You may have heard of Bristol, as it is a “twin city”—half is in Tennessee, half is in Virginia.  It indeed, is—a great place to live.  My parents live on about 50 acres tucked behind a neighborhood; a quiet retreat for what I consider a “reading sabbatical”.  I relish sitting in a hammock—reading the many magazines and books that belong to my dad.  This time I was excited to read an interview with Jim Collins (of Good to Great fame) in the June 2012 publication of INC Magazine.

So what does this have to do with nutrition informatics?  Basically—everything!  As we adopt and use health information technology, one of the most difficult challenges is the human response to change and the ability to live out a vision.  Here are a few great quotes from the “Be Great Now” article which dually promotes his new book, Great by Choice:

“We tend to believe that our ultimate trump card is innovation…Maybe the real American strength is the ability to scale innovation.”    (Think health apps, new models of care, the engaged patient who uses health technology.)

“It seems to me that this era is marked by something having to do with connectivity and networks and the ability to operate and lead within them.  The internet is all about networks and connectivity across networks.  So one possibility is that there’s a shift to a new fundamental building block of society, namely the network.  We may be moving to a world of networks well led, as opposed to organizations well managed. You can’t really manage a network, but you can help lead within a network.”  (Think health information exchange across facilities and within health care.)

“I’ve also noticed a trend of increasing customer power, and it will very likely continue. Companies have to adjust to new ways to interact with customers.”   (Think the engaged health consumer—ready to gain access to and use their own health data.)

“We don’t learn to be creative. We have to unlearn what gets in the way of our creativity…What is superrare is the ability to blend creative thinking with discipline and to do it in such a way that the discipline helps rather than hurts the creativity.”  (Think combining evidence based medicine with innovation—an enormous shift for us all.)

“The great leaders I have studied are all people whose energy and drive are directed outward. It’s not about themselves.  It’s about something greater than themselves.” (Think the transformation underway as America adopts and uses health IT—with the outward goal of improving health.)

This was a fitting article to read for Memorial Day, as it brought to mind the fact that so many people have served their country by focusing “outward”; with a shared goal of something much greater than themselves.  For many families, it was their focus on an outward goal that created a sacrifice of life.  In a time of so much chaos, taking a day to pay the respects for countless, selfless Americans give many of us comfort.

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