Transforming any organization requires a vision and a road map. The vision is an inspirational view of the future and lets everyone know what they’re working towards. The road map is what they can do to get there and to transition from a bleak present to a bright future.

The NYU Langone Health story and its leader, Robert I. Grossman, show how a single individual can create a vision and draw the map to transform organization – even one that operates within the highly complex healthcare landscape. When Bob Grossman took over what was then called the NYU School of Medicine and its hospitals, there was no vision, no road map and no clear pathways for change. The institution was a divided, dysfunctional, and demoralized organization. As the chair of NYU Langone’s Board of Trustees once told me, “If there is such a thing as contagious depression, I saw it at the medical center…. Everybody was down. A negative attitude prevailed in spite of the fact that they were an especially competent group of health professionals doing good work.”

In setting about to right the ship, the first thing Grossman did was to put forward a new vision for the center. His vision was a of a world class, patient centered, integrated academic medical center. Grossman’s nine-word vision statement said a great deal about what he wanted NYU Langone to become. As he put it, “Every one of the words in the vision statement means something.”

• World class meant that the center would be among the best in the world at everything it did.

• Patient centered meant that everyone who was a part of the medical center, including doctors, nurses, those who greeted patients at the doors, those who maintained the equipment, or those who cleaned the facilities would strive to do everything they could to make the patient’s experience and outcomes better.

• And an integrated academic medical center meant that there would be one set of leaders for both the hospitals the medical school, which would streamline management and make decision-making more agile and flexible.

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Originally Published on Forbes (September 20, 2019)