How Systems Connect


All systems interconnect through a series of behaviors, routines, rules, and information. Bees interconnect internally and with the larger ecosystem through information gathered by hundreds of bees about where the best flowers are. They can tell the temperature inside the hive and keep it with a range of 2 degrees Celsius.

Unfortunately, leadership systems tend to evolve over time and few notice changes until it is too late. In 2017 the Seattle Times published a 4 part investigative news story on the prestigious Neurological Institute at Seattle’s Swedish Hospital. The articles resulted in the resignation of the CEO as well as the Chair of the Institute who also lost his license to operate in the State of Washington. From our interview with one of the journalists who wrote the articles, their had been a shift of focus from patient safety to revenue generation. The result was catastrophic.

When this change occurred, rules that stress patient safety were relaxed. Routines focused on high risk surgeries. Information centered on revenues rather than safety. And when the system did respond with concerns? The Chair responded by saying he was changing the culture and administrators looked the other way when concerns were voiced, and at least on surgeon resigned in protest.