Why is it that we often overstate the disadvantages of the place where we live and understate the advantages of the places we visit?  The grass is always greener.  We stand in awe of Silicon Valley, the “Sunshine State,” the “Great Southwest.”  Wouldn’t it be great to live there?  They’ve ‘got it all’ where we’ve got ‘nothing but trouble.’  Of course, since we’re just visiting those places, we’re only seeing the good sides; living here full-time, we’re all-too-aware of our bad sides.

Now let’s be practical.  We love our town, our neighbors, our community, and surely wish it the best, especially economically.  But wishing and hoping will not get us where we want to go.  What will?  Consider two unlikely organizations that became wildly successful without anything special in the way of location or resources.

First, the New England Patriots.  When Bill Belichick took over as coach, he realized that his boys could never run faster, block harder, or throw further than other teams, their egos aside.  So, if he were to have a winning team, he would have to be a superb leader and organizer.  This insight led him to become the most successful coach in modern football history.

Second, Henry Ford.  When he decided to build cars, he realized that other manufacturers had just-as-skilled workers and just-as-modern tools, so, if he were to excel, he would have to optimize the assembly line to perfection and pay his workers enough that they would accept the changes.  This insight led to the biggest revolution in manufacturing the world had seen, and unprecedented prosperity for our state.  Now, Bill Belichick and Henry Ford were no Harvard certified geniuses, they didn’t live in the Sunshine State or the Great Southwest, but they had insight and drive, and used these to become fantastically successful.

Now, THRIVE’s insight, as mentioned last month, our economic progress goes hand-in-hand with the health of our communities and that BOTH need to be worked on simultaneously to assure the prosperity of our region. The only differences:  The success of cities is ever-so-much more complicated than the success of factories and football teams; and the leadership of THRIVE is essentially spread out over dozens of different people and coordinated by a multitude of entities.  Now, and this is an important concept for physicians, who don’t always work in large groups to get things done; large groups are actually BETTER at creating solutions to large complex problems than individuals are, because of two important factors:

  • Groups are better at putting good ideas on the table simply because there are different people in the group from diverse backgrounds; progress depends on good ideas, and
  • Groups are better at ferreting out problems that might arise from erroneous concepts…bad ideas. They help the group avoid costly mistakes.

And that, my friends, is the secret sauce to our success.  Leaders in the medical community and the business community, the best minds in our area, by using ‘big data,’ computer algorithms, visionary planning meetings, and input from every conceivable community group, identify our five (5) most critical priorities; coupled with 34 interventions, a detailed portfolio to lead us to success.  Health.  A healthier economy.  Voila!  Success, I can see it!  Yes, it’s real.  Yes, it’s happening.

And we, as a medical society, are part of it.  And we, as a medical society, will step up and do our part.  But in contrast to previous community improvement efforts, we will not do it alone.  We will contribute as part of a larger effort.  This column, by myself and other writers, will keep us up to date on that effort in the months and years to come.

The Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, Inc. (MiHIA) and the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance (GLBRA) are collaborating to co-lead the THRIVE initiative to bring high-value impact & benefit to our community citizens, and other regional organizations and institutions.  Due to the unique work and transformative nature of our mission, and the full engagement of sectors for support, THRIVE has caught the attention of national and state thought leaders, and established foundations as we build our region into one of health excellence and sustained economic growth.

About Dr. Louis Constan
Dr. Constan grew up in Chicago, came to the Great Lakes Bay Region in 1972 where he trained in Family Medicine and fell in love with this community.  At heart, he is an old-fashioned country doctor who, during his career, made house calls, delivered babies, set bones, and did surgery; but was never afraid to get involved in creating hospital policies and supporting academic medicine through teaching medical students and Resident doctors.  Along the way Dr. Constan has received many honors, including Family Physician of the Year for Michigan in 2006, and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in 2005.  He considers health education one of his prime roles, is a frequent community lecturer on health topics, has been published in many newspapers and magazines, and is proud to be able to continue doing so for Michigan Health Improvement Alliance (MiHIA) and their shared THRIVE initiative.