01 Mar HIMSS, Part III: Thank you, Mr. Powell (Mr. President?)
Inspiration (ĭn’spə-rā‘shən) n.
- Divine guidance or influence exerted directly on the mind and soul of humankind.
- Something that stimulates the intellect or emotions or prompts action or invention.
- The quality of inspiring or exalting
- The act of drawing in
I have been to HIMSS for the last five years. I have enjoyed the conference more this year than ever before. This is my first year as a non-vendor , and I had a completely different experience. First off, I had none of the stress associated with getting a booth, entertaining clients, pretending I was really engaged in the the 29th demo, or answering the same question for the 33rd time – in a row. Secondly, I was able to purposefully amble the exhibit hall talking to the vendors I was interested in without getting stonewalled or tossed out of the booth for being a “vendor spy”. Finally, I never really appreciated the opportunity to attend the educational or keynote sessions at the show.
I flew in early on Saturday to attend the Physician Symposium, which was an all day event on Sunday. It was an interesting experience, and I got to meet with some of the physician leadership within the healthcare IT world. It was a pretty small group, who have known each other for a long time, and I was interested to see how they attended each others lectures and asked/answered nearly all the questions in the various sessions (it was kinda like, Butch asking Cassidy, “Who are these guys”). I was a little disappointed to see that we spent most of the time talking at the system level (feature/function) and only talking a little at the outcomes level (results/performance). However, it was clear that there is alot going on in healthcare IT right now, and everyone can sense the pulse and energy as we approach the breakthrough point.
Even better than this session has been the keynotes. I already commented on the opening day keynote (which was great for its symbolism more so than its content), but was truly inspired by two follow-on keynotes. First, on Tuesday afternoon in an odd, underpublicized afternoon slot in an obscure room during exhibit hours (conference organizers must’ve been a democrat), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich regaled a crowd of 50 or so people with his vision for transforming America. Whether or not you like his politics, the dude gets healthcare. He is all over Michael Porters book on Redefining Healthcare, and espoused a clear strategy for how to adopt values based healthcare in the United States (I had a chance to ask him about how pervasive he sees the adoption of Michael Porter’s concepts when he is on the road – “just beginning too”). He shared personal stories about Hillary, Secretary Leavitt, Jeb Bush, and a host of others influential political leaders and how their views are coalescing around a market driven, consumer empowered, information rich healthcare future. He was funny, candid, authentic, and offered several provocative examples (ie, the Medi-Cruise Line and Medi-Walmart for senior citizens was poignantly hilarious). I was impressed.
Today, in the huge auditorium filled to capacity, I was totally “drawn in” by former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell. Whoa. The dude was a statesman. He walked into a thunderous standing ovation, and proceeded to tell inspiring story after funny after motivational after entertaining after educational after political after healthcare after military after everydaycommonman after oneofthemostpowerfulmenintheworld story for 90 solid minutes. Never looked at a note, didn’t use a slide, never got near the podium, never got distracted, and never stopped talking (only to applause). He was warm, genuine, self-deprecating, and flat out inspiring.
His message was obtusely about leadership – how leadership is really about inspiring followership (“if only out of curiosity”). That a leader must convey a clear goal, that a leader must have moral influence, physical courage, and completely ethical behavior. A leader doesn’t motivate (which requires constant external effort), but rather a leader inspires (creates internal self-effort). He told us, or should I say reminded us, why we are all proud to be American’s – its all about V A L U E S. Values are worth fighting for, values are what make our country unique, and our collective core values are what will help our country face the challenges of the 21st century with confidence.
Inspirational leadership – exactly the type of person that I would love to vote for in office. So, General Powell, when do we get to call you, Mr. President?