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You Say You’re Successful? Okay, Define “Successful”

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By Sue Saldibar

Recently Steve Moran sat down and talked with Faith Ott, Founder and CEO of Sage Age Strategies, (a Senior Housing Forum Partner).

If you know Steve, you know he likes to use scenarios to get the conversation started. Here’s one he gave Faith: “So I’m successful; I operate a 10-community, for profit assisted living company. And I come to you and say ‘We’re really successful and we want to make sure we ensure our success for the future. And we’d like to bring you and Sage Age in to work with us.’ What would that look like?”

To answer that, Faith brought up two key areas she covers when she meets with successful communities who are seeking future success. Here they are, in a nutshell:

  1. Where are you today?

    Faith begins with a challenge: “Define ‘successful.’ You say you're ‘successful’, so what in your mind is successful?” Then she has them walk her through the process they use to measure that success. Here’s what she’s looking for:

    1. Where they are today?

    2. What are they doing right?

    3. What could they be doing better?

    4. Are they really in touch with their market and customers?

    5. Do they understand what their team members want?  

    6. Do they know what their donor constituents want (in the case of not-for-profits)?  

Of course, the goal of these questions is to get an accurate sense as to where their performance “baseline” is.

  1. What is your vision of tomorrow?

    Keeping that baseline in mind, Faith then works with the operator to identify what they think might be their best growth opportunities. The course of the discussion often unveils some concerns and areas that need to be tweaked as well.

    And she leaves no stone unturned. Everything is on the table. Her goal is to do as much as possible to help the operator find ways to sustain their organization toward a successful future.

What Faith warns against, however, is for a successful operator to become complacent. “They need to get out there and keep their eyes and ears open,” says Faith. “Be curious. Talk to people and listen to what might be happening and where the next frontier is.”

Everyone has a stake in success.

One more thing. Faith doesn’t restrict her work to just top management. She talks with everyone. That means line staff, residents, families, as well as senior management. Everyone has a stake it the success of the community.

I particularly like the way Faith sums it up. “The thing is not just to take care of the people living in the communities, but also the people who work in our communities. They are the integral part of providing that service to our residents. So we want to hear from everybody. They all need to be heard.”

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