Overview

How do you get a team of high performing experts collaborating together quickly and efficiently? By helping them speak the same language. The Cleveland Clinic Health System was expanding its footprint in the Florida region. It had acquired three regional hospitals and was in the early stages of integrating them into the larger Cleveland Clinic infrastructure.

Working with doctors and hospital administrators means dealing with the best and the brightest. In this case, these individuals were also accustomed to moving quickly and having autonomy to make decisions for their respective hospitals. As they consolidated the Florida region and joined the Cleveland Clinic family, the pace and methods they were used to working with would be changing. In addition, people and facilities that had been working independently were now tasked with getting up to speed quickly as a collective unit. This required grounding in agreed upon values and communication methods.

The Cleveland Clinic has an outstanding Leadership Development department, and we were honored when they reached out and asked if we would facilitate Switch’s Organizational Rhapsody program with the Florida team. This program was developed precisely for these types of engagements. Music is a universal language, and we knew we’d be able to get the participants singing in harmony quickly enough — both literally and figuratively. After preliminary conversations and prework with the Cleveland Clinic Leadership Development team, we customized the content of the Organizational Rhapsody program to meet the specific needs of this group.

When the time came, we hopped on a plane, picked up rental recording gear from local Florida businesses, and arrived at the off-site location to meet the participate. We were sworn to secrecy — no one was to know why we were there until the beginning of the workshop. You can imagine the surprised faces when participants walked into a room of guitars, keyboards, microphones and recording gear. Doctors, lawyers, and C-suite professionals were very quickly going to be tasked with stepping out of their comfort zone and learning to quickly collaborate in an entirely new way.

The workshop began with discussions around musical concepts and how these concepts directly relate to the specific goals and outcomes the participants were collaborating around. Dialogue about tempo, hierarchy, and improvisation allowed the group to put tangible tactics in place around a shared framework. After these strategy conversations, it was time to rapid prototype how to put ideas into action.

The group self-selected into specific roles sand began the song creation process. With a blank canvas and a very short window in which to create, they quickly dove into crafting their vision of the Cleveland Clinic Florida future state. After agreeing on the overall theme for their song, one small group adjourned to a separate room to write lyrics. Another group began to pick up instruments, including some individuals who had no prior experience. A couple of brave souls stepped forward to the microphones, and the creative chaos was underway. Soon, people were taking bigger risks, showing vulnerability, sharing laughs, arguing over creative differences, and working to ensure each individual got to play their part. After 2 1/2 hours of non-stop energy, the first cut of their newly created vision for the Cleveland Clinic Florida Region was memorialized in song form.

Outcomes

In a short amount of fine, this group had just gone through all the stages of design thinking. They now had proof that they could problem solve, create, and collaborate effectively. Along the way they had learned about each other and defined their goals and values for the integration of their respective hospitals into the Cleveland Clinic family. The smile on everyone’s faces as they listened to the initial playback of the song they had just created was priceless. These are the light bulb moments that get us excited about what we do.

Switch did the final mix of the song and set it to video and photos from the workshop. The song’s title,
“Better Together”, is featured prominently in the chorus and functions as a rallying cry for the Florida region. The final song and video kicked off the ensuing all-hands event for the 2,000+ regional hospital employees. It clearly demonstrated that hospital leadership was in the right hands, and that the new integration into the Cleveland Clinic family would make everyone “better together”!