'You want to fail and you want to fail fast': Tampa General CEO's plan for self-disruption

Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and others are challenging the traditional healthcare system by designing new ways to coordinate and deliver patient care. But disruption doesn't have to come from outside the industry.

John Couris, president and CEO of Florida Health Sciences Center, which includes Tampa General Hospital, is adamant it should come from within.

"If we do not disrupt ourselves from within our own industry, it's going to be done to us and we're not going to like what's done to us," he said at the Becker's 13th Annual CEO+CFO Roundtable, Nov. 13-16 in Chicago. "Our first general thesis is you need to disrupt yourselves and you need to get comfortable with that. And the way you do that, at least the way we do that, is you want to fail and you want to fail fast."

Healthcare hasn't traditionally taken the "fail fast" mentality of business and tech industries because the stakes are so high. Patients rely on clinicians and the hospital infrastructure for the best care possible. But the broader healthcare strategy could benefit from a different cultural approach.

"We have a tendency in our industry to overanalyze, overthink and take way too long to get things done and make decisions," said Mr. Couris. "We have to get comfortable with failing, failing fast, learning from failure and picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off and pushing ourselves forward."

He noted most strategies are a variation on a theme without true innovation. Tampa General has tried to break the mold by building a strong culture predicated on the notion of disrupting from within and failing fast. The system also prioritizes the ability to execute.

"We get very comfortable with making decisions when we're 70% feeling certain about something. This idea and notion that you have to be 100% on a decision doesn't make sense. Not in today's world," Mr. Couris said. "You've got to get comfortable around that."

The culture Mr. Couris is building at Tampa General is focused on authenticity and transparency, and driven by kindness and vulnerability. These general elements have fostered psychological safety within the organization.

"When you have true psychological safety, the innovation is incredible to watch," Mr. Couris said.

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