“Putting lipstick on a Pig“ Embracing People Centric Values in a Company.

Wikipiedia tells us: “To put ‘lipstick on a pig’ is a rhetorical expression, used to convey the message that making superficial or cosmetic changes is a futile attempt to disguise the true nature of a product.”

I can’t tell you how much I’m seeing of this in today’ corporate world

We would all like to work for companies where leadership teams truly embrace people-centric values and principles but that is rarely the case, especially in organizations which have been in existence for decades. 

It is common to find companies where the walls of their corporate offices are decorated with empowering, motivational posters of treating staff like their most valuable asset but this is usually a case of putting lipstick on a pig.

While organization cultural transformation cannot occur without the sponsorship and commitment of the management team, waiting for them to evolve is a cop out when it comes to creating safety within your team. As leaders, our responsibility is to create a safe haven for team members to work to their best abilities. While there might be stormy weather surrounding the team, we need to keep our team members within the calmer eye of the storm.

How do we do this?

It starts with building psychological safety between the individual team members. Even if they all represent different functional areas, roles and seniority levels, everyone wants to feel safe while at work. 

Gain commitment from them as part of developing team working agreements and then reinforce the desired behavior by being a role model for how you want them to behave with one another. If they are not well informed about the subject of psychological safety, take the time to educate them about its importance. Recognize team members who act in ways to increase safety and coach those who diminish it.

ICE Series 2: The New Framework for Hospital Profitability Transformation.

Book Extract Chapter 5 on Page 65.

In a bid to aid operational Managers in achieving the balance between the social and financial outcome, strategy, and operations, a simpler business transformation concept has been proposed for hospitals and a framework developed. This is a business framework that hinges on Increasing Revenue, Controlling Cost and Enhancing Value, referred to as ICE Framework. The new framework is an improvement of Profitability Framework.

Understanding profitability issues can help executives, consultants, and entrepreneurs to diagnose and respond to falling revenue, declining sales volume, and rising costs. Businesses sometimes experience reduced profitability. This is not necessarily a problem since business sustainability depends on cash flow, and long-term growth can be achieved from capital accumulation, which shows up on the balance sheet not on the profit and loss statement. However, a drop in profits can be concerning if it is unexpected and unexplained. It can limit a business’s ability to achieve organic growth and may mean that its existing business model is not sustainable.

The Profitability Framework starts off by stating that profit is simply a function of revenue and costs. When a company is facing declining profitability, either revenue has decreased, costs have increased, or both. The idea here is to understand which side of the equation is pulling profitability down and how to go about rectifying the problem. The framework does not consider other service aspects that enhance the elements generating revenue and controlling cost. Profitability Trees are a special kind of Issue Trees created specifically to dissect profits. However, not all business problems are profit oriented.

With changes in healthcare regulations and reimbursement and in the face of innovative new entrants, hospitals and hospital systems are searching for new strategies for growth and revenue generation. Today, hospitals must get creative to find new sources of revenue among decreasing reimbursement and increasing regulations. And sometimes, those revenue sources can be hard to reveal hence that is why the drive to increase revenue has become a core strategic guidance for future growth leading to the formation of tactical and strategic action plans to specifically look at increasing revenue. With the drive to Increase revenue, healthcare management costs are also soaring in because of value-based care. Without proper attention, resource expenditures can quickly catapult, threatening hospital’s already-thin margins. The hospital management could identify and realize opportunities to control resource expenditure with proven approaches that reduce costs and boost productivity through formation of Cost Control action plans. Hospital administrators and clinical providers must work together to find forward- looking solutions to improve patient care and manage costs without sacrificing quality hence need for Value Enhancement.

The need to Increase Revenue, Control Cost and Enhance value is the basis of the acronym ICE; I for Increase Revenue, C for Control Cost and E for Enhance value. ICE as a hospital profitability transformation framework employs profitability framework tree by including and enhancing value-based healthcare, also known as value- based care. Value based care is a payment model that rewards healthcare providers for providing quality care to patients.

Figure 1: ICE hospital Profitability Framework by Aquinius(2020)

Under this approach, providers seek to achieve the triple aim of providing better care for patients, better health for populations at a lower cost and an excellent engagement of the service provider. Value-based care focuses on care coordination that ensures patients are given the right care by the right provider at the right time. Thus, in a value- based healthcare model, physicians may collaborate with each other on a patient’s care, rather than making decisions separately that can lead to gaps or overlaps in care.

ICE Transformation Framework is not about being the best, whether it is operations excellence, best practices, or marketing communication tactics. ICE Transformation Framework is about being different. Differentiations and competitive advantages that can beat market macro forces in today’s New World Marketplace. ICE Transformation Framework is just as much about what not to do as it is about what to do. It is a combination of benefits and trade- offs that your brand offers, differentiating you from the competing alternatives in the marketplace. Trade-offs are essential to ICE model. They create the need for choice and purposefully limit what the hospital offers to have a clear differentiation and competitive advantage.

Watch out for ICE Series 3: The Framework for Hospital Profitability Transformation