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October 27, 2016
David W. Johnson
System Dynamics

Winning “The Cub Way”: It Takes an Organization (Postscript)

On Saturday evening, the Chicago Cubs won the National League pennant and the City of Chicago went crazy. The Wrigleyville celebration rocked until dawn Sunday morning. After a 71-year absence, the Cubs will play in the World Series. Game 1 is tonight in Cleveland against the American League Champion Cleveland Indians.

On October 5th, we published Winning “The Cub Way”: It Takes an Organization in our weekly Market Corner Commentary. The article profiles the comprehensive and inclusive way in which the Cubs leadership has rebuilt the organization’s baseball and business operations from the ground up.

When Tom Ricketts purchased the team in 2009, he set three goals for the Cubs organization: 1. Win a World Series; 2. Rebuild Wrigley Field and 3. Be a good neighbor. They’ve progressed wonderfully on each goal. A Robert Reed column in today’s Chicago Tribune Business Section praises the Cubs leadership for their vision, strategic patience, hands-off management style and ability to hire great people.

From top to bottom, from ballfield to back office, everyone in the Cubs organization operates according to “The Cub Way.” There are no prima donnas. Everyone is a team player. They focus on outcomes. They measure performance. All employees have a development plan.

The Cubs case study is a powerful analog for healthcare companies. Frontline employees (whether baseball players or caregivers) can only perform at the highest levels with the support of high-caliber business operations.

Like the Cubs in 2009, most healthcare companies require substantial performance improvement to compete at the highest levels. In healthcare, this requires delivering high-quality, cost-effective healthcare services to customers when and where they need them. Let the journeys continue.

“The Cub Way” was on full display Saturday night during the on-field trophy presentation broadcast to a national audience. The Cubs President of Business Operations, Crane Kennedy, participated in the award ceremony. I’ve never seen that before. It really does take an organization to win championships.

Interestingly, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management will soon publish a case study on the Chicago Cubs. The study’s lead author is James Shein, a clinical professor of strategy at Kellogg. Shein describes the Cubs as “a great [business] turnaround story.”

I’ll share the Kellogg case study when it becomes available. In the meantime, GO CUBS!!!

About the Author

David W. Johnson

David Johnson is the CEO of 4sight Health, an advisory company working at the intersection of healthcare strategy, economics, innovation. Johnson is a healthcare thought leader, keynote speaker, and strategic advisor to organizations busting the status-quo to reform our healthcare system. He is the author of Market vs. Medicine: America’s Epic Fight for Better, Affordable Healthcare, and his second book, The Customer Revolution in Healthcare: Delivering Kinder, Smarter, Affordable Care for All (McGraw-Hill 2019). As a speaker, Dave plays the role of rebel, challenger, industry historian, investor and company evaluator to push audiences forward. (Watch bio video.) Johnson applies his 25+ years of investment banking in healthcare to identify ways the healthcare industry must change to deliver better care. He received a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School, an English degree from Colgate University, and served in the African Peace Corp service. Join over 10k+ healthcare executives who read our weekly insights and commentary on www.4sighthealth.com. His third book, Less Healthcare, More Health: The Prescription for a Happier, More Equitable and Productive America, will publish in 2024.

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