CEO Paul Levy of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston is progressive and primitive in his corporate communications approach. Let me explain. Levy’s approach is “primitive” because it fundamentally goes back to the basics – honestly, openness and collaboration. Yet, at the same time he is using progressive new media channels as an engagement tool.
Levy identified transparency as a crucial part of problem solving when he was tasked with addressing a $20 million deficit. He opened lines of communication to employees on the front lines for suggestions on how they feel the organization could be run more efficiently and effectively. Levy sent emails to all of the staff with the nature of the problem and welcomed participating. Thousands of people actively provided input at scheduled town meetings and social media forums like chat rooms that Beth Israel set up. The result? Layoffs were reduced by 75%. Rather than the projected layoffs of 600 employees, only 150 were deemed necessary.
Like Beth Israel, many companies are facing financial difficulties in this challenging economic climate. The key is for an organization to provide good news and the bad news. Companies must be open and honest because hiding bad news only leads to speculation and the loss of integrity and leadership.
The following is an audio interview with Levy conducted by the Harvard Business School. I hope this lends management inspiration to you.