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The Capstone Story

Jane McLeod Sue Tetzlaff Capstone Leadership

In a land far away to the North in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula there lived two nurses – one was Jane and the other was Sue. They worked in a rural, community hospital together as leaders. They were very different leaders; yet they discovered that they both had a talent for creating change and a “git er done” attitude infused with positivity that many around them admired and followed.

Sue was part of a senior leadership team that determined that there needed to be a hospital wide culture change to save their hospital. It came as no surprise that Jane was tapped on the shoulder to join the team that would create this change. You see, as many hospitals do, they suffered from the “ALWAYS-DONE- IT-THIS-WAY” disease. Always-Done-It-This-Way is a terrible disease that inflicts some work cultures and causes leaders and staff to not look at things in a new and positive way.

THANKFULLY, the team was determined to stop this horrible disease and to save the hospital financially, but more importantly, to boost the service and quality of care they were giving to their community. Their team had discovered that many of their patients were going elsewhere for care and they wanted them back.

Sue and Jane and a group of AMAZING leaders met often. They read books about culture change and they took two years to figure out “How shall we save our hospital from the horrible disease of Always-Done-It-This-Way?” They read Planetree philosophies and about Radical Loving Care and Hardwiring Excellence. They finally decided they would become a rural partner with the Studer Group. They were assigned a coach; a brilliant nurse leader named Cynthia. Cynthia was a nice southern Belle who talked to them on the phone once a quarter. When she would speak with them, she would say things like: “Wow, you people have really taken these concepts and made them your own, haven’t you?”

So, after two years of reading and thinking about it, they FINALLY decided to JUST START. And it did not take long to see the improvements – results that were astounding even to them. They grew so fast and their progress was so unbelievable, that they started getting phone calls from other hospitals and state organizations that asked: “What the heck are you people doing there? How did you get rid of your disease and get your employees to change?”   Our Capstone mantra is “Just Start”.  As our community hospital transformation journey taught us, we don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward.  And as Zig Ziglar says, “you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

Some organizations would ask the CEO (a.k.a “Good David”) if he would come and tell the story of his hospital’s turnaround. He would tell people about his amazing team and he would often put Sue or Jane on the line to tell the story.

Sue and Jane soon discovered that many of the key initiatives that had gotten rid of the disease and made their hospital healthy and whole again were amazing work practices and leadership tactics that could be copied by others. So they coined the strategy: The CASE Method (Copy And Share Everything; but make it yours and make it better). They discovered that the practices and tactics that were working to improve results were used in businesses all over the world, not just in healthcare.

And the requests for help kept coming: “Can you please come and help me in my hospital?” Sue and Jane said “Why Not? We love this stuff!”

They sat down in a coffee shop across the street from their hospital one day and brainstormed what their company would look like. They conversed about words that symbolize leadership that is in alignment and accountable to the organization’s goals to achieve greatness. They decided on CAPSTONE – the name of their new company. They loved this visual:

The ancient Romans had a tradition: whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: he stood under the arch.

They set out to learn all they could about being a small business and they JUST STARTED. They found that the same personality and leadership qualities that made them so DIFFERENT also made them very appealing to their partner hospitals and the leaders who came to their leadership trainings called Boot Camps and Summits. They determined they would walk the talk with their company; making sure they used positive and accountable leadership strategies ALWAYS.

Soon, their partner hospitals began writing their own success stories. Getting results higher and faster than Jane and Sue could believe. And the leaders that attended the trainings began their own journeys of improvement citing “Jane and Sue not only gave me solutions I can implement but that gave me HOPE that I can do my job and do it well everyday”.

Sue and Jane became even more determined to develop Capstone Leadership Solutions into a company that will serve healthcare organizations and leaders in ways which bring value to their patients, employees, physicians and communities. They live out their vision to inspire positive change – one leader at a time.

Sue and Jane love working harder than they ever have to spread the medicine that gets rid of “Always-Done-It-This-Way” and helps organization to replace mediocrity with greatness. Because, when it comes to caring for the communities in our beautiful wonderful country – “good” is never good enough.


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