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Is Your Organization a Switch Hitter?


The latest trend in management theory is what's called organizational ambidexterity. It's the social scientist's take on being a switch hitter.

Mickey Mantle was the best switch hitter in MLB history. He played for the New York Yankees for 18 seasons. He won three MVP awards, one Triple Crown, won one batting title, batted .300+ 10 times, hit over 50 HR twice, over 40 HR twice, over 30 HR five times and drove in 100+ runs four times. He won four HR titles, and one RBI crown. He was induced into the Hall of Fame in 1974.

The latest trend in management theory is what's called organizational ambidexterity. It's the social scientist's take on being a switch hitter, and is defined as an organization's ability to be aligned and efficient in its management of today's business demands while simultaneously being adaptive to changes in the environment. In other words, being able to simultaneously lead the now and the new.

Some describe it as bimodal people management.

McKinsey calls it the three horizons of innovation.

Healthcare organizations and their employees are faced with the same challenge. While being consumed with adhering to rules, regulations and laws to generate margins, they must innovate and be sensitive to a turbulent and rapidly changing health ecosystem to survive. However, slugging from both sides of the plate is no easy chore and many are trying to figure out how to do it. In most instances, the corporate culture and immune system snuffs out innovation when it threatens the cash cow or existing models and several have found you must destroy the village to save it.

Healthcare innovators, organizations and the physician intrapreneurs they employ will struggle for the foreseeable future to get it right. Some will swing for the fences and strike out a lot. Some will win batting titles. Some will create a situation where the left hand won't know what the right hand is doing. In the meantime, don't look for pennants to be waiving from center field any time soon. We need a lot more depth in the organization for that to happen.

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