New Book Review! Great Mondays? By Victor Kolade, MD
Victor O. Kolade, MD | AIAMC Roles: Member of Board of Directors & Executive/Programming Committees
When I heard Josh Levine speak (for the first time) at the 2023 AIAMC Annual Meeting, I was inspired to learn more about (company) culture as he introduced it and described it more fully in his book Great Mondays. (Our office staff are typically not excited about Mondays – and when that Monday comes after a long weekend, neither am I.) Josh explains that culture includes values AND purpose, behaviors, recognition, rituals, and cues (p 6-8). The first three components create the vision for the culture while the last three bring the culture to life (p. 23).
Intuitively, I agree with Josh that employees that feel seen and are supported bring their whole selves to work and make choices that will help them grow professionally (p. 9). He defines culture as the cause and effect of choices made. Yet, culture is dynamic, needing ‘continuous improvement’ and the engagement of everyone in an organization. There are six components – presented in this order:
1. PURPOSE must inspire people to come together to work towards a common goal. Does this remind you of teaming processes from our National Initiative VII? See if this recent webinar illustrates the concept of purpose. Often purpose statements are stale, just words that most of us don’t remember. Josh encourages the creation of a purpose (reason-to-exist) statement that can reach beyond the traditional mission and vision statements to guide, inspire and rally clients and employees alike to join a cause greater than themselves. Have you considered having a purpose statement for your program or project? There is a mini-workbook included to guide a half-day workshop in which veterans (long-tenured individuals), visionaries and ‘blockers’ (likely nay-sayers) can craft a purpose statement by looking ahead to the desired obituary (description of legacy) of the team and picking keywords for the purpose statement. This framing of a purpose statement conflicts with AIAMC guidance I got in National Initiative V: “Don’t boil the ocean”. I now say, ‘Boil the part of the ocean that’s closest to you to a crisp!’
2. VALUES determine how purpose is achieved. Exemplars of best practices within a team – ‘culture all-stars’ can help define these; values should be brief, actionable, current, and unique. Values need to be clearly defined so all team members know what they mean. Josh recommends keeping the list of organizational values to ≤5, so they are easy to remember. We should compare and then discuss our personal values to the corporate values focusing on implications of value misalignment.
3. BEHAVIORS are rooted in the team’s values and must be cultivated and encouraged. Choices made by individuals determine the team’s trajectory! Josh recommends a short retreat in which ‘Culture All-Stars’ – exemplary team members – review and prioritize behaviors that should be stopped, continued, or started. These All-Stars and others should be formally or informally rewarded for the value-driven behaviors they demonstrate.
4. RECOGNITION programs can be sponsored both by leadership and by peers; the cost of a reward is less important than the thought behind it and its potential to inspire continuation of the incentivized behaviors. These recognition programs must be sustained, authentic, believable, and creative.
5. HEALTHY RITUALS allow team members to build relationships with one another; they may be small or large. They may be instituted by leadership (‘explicit’) or by team members themselves (‘emergent’). Good rituals are authentic and inclusive.
6. CUES connect team members to the future they are working towards. Some cues double as rituals. Cues may be aspirational, designed to keep people connected to actions or ideals in the future. Cues may also be basic, intermediate, or advanced; finding the best ones takes rigor, observation, and creativity.
Are these Great Mondays concepts realistic in the clinical learning environment? In the example cited above we have rituals (daily morning huddles) and cues (a 2-star quality recognition program) intended to stimulate and maintain behaviors that lead to provision of quality ambulatory care (purpose) by our office team. We lead our entire system in our performance in some metrics!
This book is designed as both a good start-to-finish read but also as a reference manual, complete with emphasis on relevant quotes, diagrams, and illustrations from several companies. The hardcover and choice of white, black and pink make it ready for a coffee table or bookshelf. Have a Great Monday soon!
Levine J. (2019) Great Mondays: How to design a company culture employees love. McGraw Hill, New York.
Dr. Kolade is Clinical Professor of Medicine & Regional Clerkship Director for Internal Medicine, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine and Core Faculty for the Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital Internal Medicine Residency program.
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AIAMC Book Review Editor: Deborah Simpson, PhD