AHCA/NCAL: Keynote inspires the big heart in LTC’s small businesses

When it comes to the character of a successful long-term care business, size isn’t what’s important, said Jim Collins, the keynote speaker at Monday’s opening of the 63rd Annual American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) Conference and Expo in Tampa, Fla.

Likewise, an LTC organization with a warm, energetic culture but poor strategy and conviction may have trouble surviving challenging times. “You may have a great culture, but if you don’t win, you’re not a great company,” he clarified. “We confuse personality and leadership all the time.”

Collins is a best-selling author of six books on corporate culture and organization. His most recent book, Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All, is based on nine years of research on how companies can choose to thrive during difficult times by focusing on the work environment as well as company performance.

Speaking to more than 2,000 attendees, Collins identified three characteristics of a vigorous business—superior results, distinction and lasting results. “The signature of mediocrity is not the unwillingness to change. It’s chronic inconsistency,” he said.

Collins encouraged LTC organizations to consider the example of Southwest Airlines, which began 40 years ago with three aircraft, “yet has never failed to make a profit, and has never failed to grow.”

Collins also compared long-term care’s need to make steady, sure progress to Antarctic explorer Roald Amundsen, who stuck to his daily goal of a “20-mile march” regardless of adversity. When obstacles arose, the explorer always had a well-researched Plan B, Collins said.

“That 20-mile march is the standard of quality and achievement that you will meet, every time, no matter what,” he said. “What is your 20-mile march? What will you commit to?”

Collins also warned the audience not to let organizational progress slip just because parts of the future are hazy. The LTC industry already knows much of what’s coming, he said, listing the following:

  • Costs will have to be adjusted by an order of magnitude
  • The market will shift to population-based management
  • Evidence-based care may become more dominant
  • Industry consolidation will increase
  • Everything will become more data-driven
  • The future will include an explosion of assisted living and home-based solutions

Collins’ thought-provoking message celebrated the culture of caregiving, including the unique joys, opportunities and challenges that the business of eldercare brings to all involved. “If you can’t control prices, you must control cost. And you also have to blend that with a culture of exceptional service,” he said. “Greatness is not primarily a function of circumstance. It is first and foremost a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”

Stay tuned for educational session coverage from the AHCA/NCAL Annual Conference and Expo.

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