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Best Healthcare Leaders Know When to Exit

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, May 18, 2012

Why now? The health system is consistently profitable, it amply fulfills its mission to take care of all comers, and has received international acclaim as an early, and very successful adopter of Lean manufacturing principles in healthcare. Gabow could certainly be forgiven for basking in the sun for a little while.

"I don't know if it's the right time. But I'm 68 years old and I've been here for 40 years and CEO for 20," she says. "That certainly made me think perhaps it was time. I also think that one of the issues with leadership that's key is to know when to leave. It seems the error is most often made on the staying too long side than leaving too early."

No argument here. But then again, that's from a guy who would retire tomorrow if he could.

Motivated to reduce waste
One of Gabow's biggest legacies will be her embrace of Lean manufacturing techniques in healthcare. Lean considers any work that does not increase value for the end user to be wasteful.  While she wasn't the first senior executive to embrace the practice, she was one of its most ardent believers when she and her executive team unleashed it on Denver Health in 2006.

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1 comments on "Best Healthcare Leaders Know When to Exit"


Robert Trinka (5/20/2012 at 11:06 AM)
Congratulations to the good doctor for 1) Taking on the challenge of being a physician leader, and 2) for understanding how to run a lean organization. This is as good as time as any to ask about the profitability" of not-for-profit organizations, like Denver Health, which I assume is a not-for-profit health system. Not-for-profit or nonprofit organizations by definition cannot have a "profit", only a surplus. We should try to be accurate in this terminology since there is a huge difference between for profit companie's "Profit" and a nonprofit's "Surplus".