Clayton Christensen: American Health Care Is Sick And Getting Sicker

Robert Pearl | LinkedIn | July 10, 2014

“We’re in a situation now where American medicine needs stronger leadership,” said management guru Clayton Christensen. “That is, executives who know how to wield power and drive change. If you don’t have a leader who has the instinct, will or skill to wield power, you can’t change.”  Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor and best-selling author of the “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” said leaders in health care have a variety of management techniques at their disposal. He calls them “Tools Of Cooperation and Change.”

But for a health care industry he describes as “sick and getting sicker,” Christensen believes only one kind of tool can drive change: power tools.  That means an approach to fixing American health care needs to be more autocratic. He has concluded that doctors, hospitals and insurance executives aren’t going to embrace necessary changes until those changes are imposed upon them.

“That’s right,” he said, “in these circumstances, democracy just doesn’t work.”  In his research, he has assessed a variety of organizational situations across two dimensions: the extent to which people agree on what they want and the extent to which they agree on how to get what they want. When there is no consensus in either dimension, forceful leadership is the only way forward...