PowerPoint: Wisdom & whiplash

John Taylor: October 17, 20130 Comments

Oxymoron: Memorable, positive PowerPoint presentation. Truth is we remember the truly bad ones. A PowerPoint is a tool, not a truckload of words and graphics. I’ve seen a bunch recently, and two stand out in contrasting content and the styles of their presenters.

Nathan Kaufman and Dr. Dan Diamond addressed a recent annual meeting of the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, which drew about 100 healthcare execs. Attendees were generally folks in the know, as much as you can be in massive industry transformation underway. Both speakers showed that they excelled at what they do. Both left us feeling clued in. But one had a  “wow” factor.

Kaufman is founder of a San Diego-based consulting company and an expert in helping create peak performing organizations.
Topic: “Putting the Fun Back into a DysFUnctional Healthcare System. The Journey from Cost-Based Pricing to Price-Based Costing.”
PowerPoint: 56 pages.
Wonk talk: Minimize optionality, variation. … Provider vs. payer = mutual assured destruction. … We are moving from aggregation to consolidation to integration.
Anecdote No. 1: The “Semmelweis effect” – the tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it contradicts established norms or beliefs. Named after a doctor, Ignaz Semmelweis, who determined in the 1800s that if physicians washed their hands in chlorine after being in the morgue and before delivering babies, the death rate of babies would decline. He was dismissed from the hospital, ridiculed and wound up dying in an insane asylum at age 47.
Anecdote No. 2: Kodak invented the digital camera in 1974. But saw its true profit center as a chemical-based photo company, helping explain why it didn’t change its business model and went bankrupt in 2012
Key messages: Your ability to fail quickly and try something else is a key to survival. … If you don’t like change, don’t come here. … One person’s waste is another person’s revenue. … Talent + measurements = success.

Diamond, a family physician, has been a leader of disaster response teams including the 2010 quake in Haiti and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in New Orleans. His mission statement includes:  “to resuscitate and equip people to thrive when times are tough.”
Topic: “Performance Under Pressure. How to Thrive in Changing Times.”
PowerPoint: 20 pages.
Wonk talk: We don’t need a GAP analysis, we need a GASP analysis – “get a spherical perspective” of risk and resources. You may not have the resources but maybe others have resources that you don’t. … It’s not about US. It’s about making a difference. … Go from victim-centric to hero-centric – am I using my resources or am I powerless.
Anecdote No. 1: His retelling of a cop’s plight and empowerment as Katrina unfolded – I can’t do it justice in the retelling.
Anecdote No. 2: His retelling of how he secured care for a burned girl in Haiti – I can’t shorten that either.
Anecdote No. 3: Keep a gratitude journal every day. Silly things like a physician discovering the joy of having sliced oranges in a cup because his comings/goings in office appointments allow for slices to be eaten unlike returning to a disgustingly discolored apple with a single bite mark.
Anecdote No. 4: When you’re climbing a glacier, it’s best to be roped to other folks in case you slip. Same holds true in life. You need a go-to contact list of 10 people – who can lift you up when you’re down or kick you in the butt when needed. Why 10? You can't pester the same people repeatedly.
Key messages: Mindset + passion + perseverance = performance…. We live in the wrong time zone. We’re always thinking about things three hours from now. Choose happiness – now. … PowerPoint slide showing a lapel sticker that reads: “Hello I Am.... Someone Who Can Help!”… The one question you need to ask a co-worker:  What are three things I can do to make YOUR job better?

If I wanted a strategic adviser, I’d likely hire the well-credentialed Kaufman, despite his overfed PowerPoint. If I wanted a motivator to help me through trying times, that would be Diamond, a former street mime who excels at living.


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