Things I Could Have Done Better

Here I am talking about where we need to go,  how nursing and nurses need to transform themselves in order to survive and thrive.

… All of which I believe in deeply.


And yet as I read and study principles, practices, etc. in a variety of sources, nursing and non-nursing, I’m struck by my failures, missteps and disappointments in my own clinical and leadership roles.

No doubt, this is what is fueling me and my mission to help all nurses.

I’m still learning…

Just last week, I was in a high rise business building with hundreds of offices, and as I sat in the reception area I observed a receptionist connecting with every single person, mainly fellow employees, that came near her desk. She knew everyone and all their “business”. I sensed that they were drawn to her attention. They laughed and she shared stories about what was going on in the building. At the time, I wondered about her intentions and efficiency.

Today I read an article, “The secret ingredient that makes some teams better than others.” by Margaret Hefferman . Accessed today

“Culture defines any business, but it’s one of the hardest things to manage. In this extract from her new TED Book, Margaret Heffernan lays out the often-overlooked element necessary to build an effective, efficient organization: social capital.”

It’s Social Capital ….


I consider myself to be a social person. I love to laugh and talk, and I smiled and greeted a lot when rounding, etc. But upon reading this article, I realized how much Social Capital I stripped out of my work environments.

Granted, some of it is our work environment; clinical settings and hospitals are serious places where people need to rest.

But given the importance of relationships and connectedness among all those who work in healthcare, and especially nurses, I now know that Social Capital needs to be fertilized.

Listen to these Social Capital / connectedness nurturing practices… Keep a more open mind than I had:

  • Everyone has equal time to talk
  • Each person is more tuned in to one another; showed more empathy to each other; “Reading the Mind in the Eyes”
  • Teams with more women did better
  • One exercise: Department leaders were required to present and justify the budgets of other departments. This allowed the leaders to see the whole company and through the eyes of others. They were driven to do their best job to ensure reciprocity
  • Functional leaders swap roles to grow social connectedness
  • One project: departments made short films about one another
  • Banned coffee cups and food at desks to force people to congregate during breaks
  • One place shut down to allow everyone to eat and take breaks at same time. Productivity soared!
  • Every Friday afternoon, people got together and told who they were and things about themselves
  • MIT studied patterns of interactions, even in hospitals, and found that these patterns impacted productivity as strongly as other things

Social capital doesn’t mean friendliness, it means trust, honesty, helpfulness, connectedness.


The more Social Capital, the stronger the debates, the better the decisions, the stronger the climate of safety, and yes, grumpiness. “Grumpy orchestras tend to play better than cheerful ones”.

I wish I had understood the importance of my role in nurturing the connectedness among nurses as much as I do now.


The secret ingredient that makes some teams better than others   May 5, 2015 / Margaret Heffernan  Accessed 7/8/16 @IDEAS.TED.COM


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