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‘Leaning in’

June 18, 2022
If I (Oscar) was facing ill health and, geography aside, I could choose any doctor to care for me, I’d choose Dr Lou Flaspohler, a doctor in Cincinnati Ohio. This isn’t because of Lou’s skills in practicing medicine. Honestly, I have no idea of his skills in that area but I’d gamble they are good enough! Rather, I would choose him for two reasons.
‘Leaning in’ -

  1. Lou believes that the biggest problem with the health system is that when people need it, it’s too late. (The best way to improve the system long term is to reduce the load on it.)  One of his favorite lines is “Healthy people need very little healthcare”. 
  2. Tied in with this is his passion for a guiding hypothesis that he and his team of doctors and others, half-jokingly referred to as The Lean Underground, came to a number of years ago when they asked themselves the question, “what are the strongest predictors of wellbeing?”. Stunned that they, a group of doctors, did not know the answer, they spent months digging in. What they arrived at as the strongest predictors of wellbeing are 1. Meaningful Purpose and 2. Positive Relationships.

Lou hypothesises that if his practice focusses on the well being of their patients, they will see them less frequently. Does that sound a little unusual for a medical practice? It is. Even more odd to many, for the past 20 years they have allowed double the ‘standard’ time per consultation. Why? Because that allows Lou and his colleagues to slow down the line and work towards getting it right the first time, develop deeper relationships and focus on wellbeing and purpose, not just ailments.

How do I know this? Lou has mentioned what he’s doing in a number of conversations over the last 1-2 years.

I was fortunate to meet Lou at a TWI summit about 2-3 years ago. Immediately I could see in him what my father (an eye specialist) used to (rarely) say – “There’s far more to medicine than a medical degree and treating peoples ailments. A developing problem is the education system is recognizing that less and less.”

About 6 months ago in one of Lou and my discussions he related the wellbeing statement to the workplace – ‘Wellbeing at work will come from meaningful purpose and positive relationships.’ Peoples wellbeing at work is pivotal for developing excellence. So the question becomes how can we foster ‘wellbeing at work’? That’s a wide topic.

For now I’d like to narrow it down to a concept. Lou uses the term ‘leaning in’ a lot in our conversations re workplaces. He’s referring to people who, in Australia, we say are ‘having a crack’ – they are willing to committ effort.

I love ‘leaning in’ for a few reasons.

  • It’s visualizable. (Much more so than the overused term ‘engagement’.)
  • It may well be measureable.
  • It may be measureable in real time – the reaction to what one says and does may well be quickly ‘readable’.
  • Conceptually, I think if we can get just enough people to ‘lean in’ we will achieve our goals.

Over the next few months I’ll be testing hypothesis connected with increasing ‘leaning in’. I expect I’ll learn quite a bit.