It’s one thing to announce a merger of two hospitals; it was quite another for it to take hold. People liked what they had before.

The Challenge

A merger between two hospitals was not working. The CEO of one of the hospitals saw how much money was being lost by keeping up dual systems. And he was worried that the hospitals were missing many opportunities in the marketplace by not being able to combine their resources.

The Opportunity

Even though only about one-third of all mergers are successful, it doesn’t have to be that way. With our help, the leaders who were trying to make this work could pay attention to the most neglected part of most mergers – the people.

The Results

We brought all managers together for a meeting to address critical issues. We began by letting each major entity talk about what it stood to gain and lose from the merger. Many expected the new executive team to feel like the winners. Surprisingly, all the lists of responses looked just about the same. Everyone saw some gains, all saw some losses. This revelation was a turning point. My associate and I could feel a shift take place in the room.

Conversations for the rest of the meeting were deeper. People began to catch themselves when they were speaking about “us versus them.” They worked hard to find solutions that worked for the entire hospital. For months after the meeting, people referred back to the power of those conversations in helping them get started on the right foot.

People rolled up their sleeves and began to address these problems. This meeting was a turning point in the merger. Departments began to work far more collaboratively with each other. They began to think like a single entity.

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