Charles ‘Phil’ Cogdill: Understanding the Role of Risk in Growth

As the treasurer/secretary for the AAMI Board of Directors, I am grateful to be serving an organization which takes its fiscal responsibility to heart and does not waste the financial resources it is provided. As an AAMI member, it is reassuring that my investment is being maximized and producing excellent results for a broad base of members, healthcare workers, and customers who purchase and utilize our products.

As the board reviews the organization’s 2013 performance and projections for 2014, we approach this new year with a sense of anticipation and excitement. I love to see each department’s opportunities and see how staff members are thinking about how they can do even better than they have done the year before.

This may seem like inside baseball, but it’s really about much more than how the staff of one organization operates. Regardless of the innovation “output,” a key “input” to all new ideas is experimentation. We have to try new things to break new ground, and breaking new ground means that sometimes we will fail.

As a board member, it was clear to me that AAMI’s success is based on the introduction of failure as a performance metric. AAMI leadership is pushing the staff to be entrepreneurial. If AAMI stretches and pushes for new heights, it might break things. The Board of Directors has leadership’s back and has been supportive of the function that failure has in the success of the organization.

It is necessary to note that AAMI leadership has not been promoting recklessness, but a reinvention of the organization. Leadership is reinforcing the importance of experimenting and taking risks. An example of this was the creation of the Healthcare Technology Safety Institute (HTSI) in 2011, and the Board approval of $500,000 in seed money to get it started. AAMI leadership saw a need for an organization which promotes patient safety from the specific perspective of healthcare technology and the vast healthcare delivery system within which it is used. Leadership also stressed the importance of having both radical and incremental goals for HTSI. The institute’s radical initiative is to reinvent awareness of the role healthcare technology has on patient outcomes. Initially it grew incrementally, focusing on a few issues in the healthcare sector. The HTSI team also understands the imperative of delivering business results and is succeeding with Marilyn Neder Flack as the new executive director of the AAMI Foundation, whose essential function is to reach those ambitious HTSI goals in the near future.

As you keep your sights on the new year and what you want to achieve, think about the risks you need to take, the assumptions you want to challenge. In the words of the British preacher Robert South, “Defeat should never be a source of discouragement, but rather a fresh stimulus.”

Here’s to our best year ever!

Charles “Phil” Cogdill is director of quality, Sterilization & Microbiology, Respiratory and Monitoring Solutions, with Covidien. He is also a member of the AAMI Board of Directors.

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