What’s Love Got To Do With It ?


In this Ted Talk Susan Carter tells us her story about focus, leadership and what happens when they don’t align to the organisation’s goals and heath care.

She talks about the benefits of self-managed teams and the benefits which they see, including employee satisfaction and patient outcomes. This is achieved by a horizontal model of leadership, allowing everyone’s voice to be heard.

People need to feel valued, feel they have meaning and purpose. This is more prevalent than ever in health and social care. This is achieved by psychological safety, leaders are authentic and happy to be vulnerable. We must be able to bring our whole set to work and make decisions on what we know is right, rather than being reactive. Susan calls this heart centred leadership.

How can we improve patient outcomes in healthcare environments and be more fulfilled as healthcare professionals?

Watch Susan Carter’s TED Talk to learn her simple yet profound answer to this important question.


Segment 1 (00:08):
“It has been so amazing to be here today, to hear all these ideas and possibilities for the future of healthcare. I want to talk to you today in the category of what if. What if we could improve patient outcomes, be more fulfilled, and have a happier workplace just by bringing more heart to our work? I’ve heard a lot of people talk about stress and burnout in the workplace. A lot of it has to do, it seems, with external pressures from a variety of demands. We have margins. We have budgets. We have scorecards. We have a whole host of targets that we’re trying to meet. These targets are really important. They’re how we know where we are in relation to where we want to be. Sometimes though, when we’re trying to reach a goal or move a vision forward, we can confuse that it means for the end. We can mistake metrics and measurements for providing good patient care. We can lose sight of the reason that we came to this work in the first place and what it is that we’re trying to do.”

Segment 2 (01:25):
“About five years ago at the Osher Center, our capacity was not meeting our demand, and so we went to leadership, and we asked about the possibility for expanding. I put a business plan together, we submitted it, and they generously agreed to support us in doubling our footprint and expanding our programs and services. Once the buildout was finished, it was really important to me that we meet the targets that we had projected. So every chance I got, I talked to the team about visits and volumes and budgets and margin, because I wanted to make sure that everyone knew what the expectations were. After a little while, my usually happy, high-functioning team started being cranky and edgy, and there was discord. It was really important to me to figure out what was going on.”

Segment 3 (02:25):
“What I realised was our focus had shifted. I had lost sight of the very reason that we wanted to expand in the first place, meeting and responding to patient needs. I was focusing on numbers instead of the patient. I was coming from my head instead of my heart. I think there’s a shift that is possible for us now in healthcare. Frederic Laloux in his book, Reinventing Organisations, describes a Dutch home care company called Buurtorg. Buurtorg’s founder considers his role to be holding the vision for his company rather than providing top-down strategy. He opted not to use a traditional hierarchical management model but went for a horizontal self-managed, team-based model. They’re 8,500 nurses operate in 800 self-managed teams. Compared to other nursing organisations in the Netherlands, their patient outcomes are better. Their patient’s health care utilisation is lower. Thier patient and employee satisfaction scores are better. Ernst & Young estimated that the Netherlands could save nearly $2 billion a year if all of the home care companies in their country had Buurtorg’s results. Scaled to the US population, that looks more like $49 billion.”

Segment 4 (04:11):
“I think that’s phenomenal. That’s really amazing. But what struck me and what caught my attention was the change in approach. The horizontal model allowed for every voice to be heard, every voice valued, and for the collective wisdom of each group to emerge. If we’re going to move the needle, if we really are going to be creative and innovative and transformative, we’re going to need the best of what everyone can offer. People need to feel valued. They need to know that what they’re doing matters and that it has meaning and purpose. Thank you.”

Segment 5 (04:55):
“Google did a study to determine why some of their teams were flourishing while others floundered. And what they found, the single most significant factor was psychological safety. Psychological safety requires that we are authentic and vulnerable and transparent, that we can take risks without fear of judgment or recrimination, means that we need to bring the best of ourselves moment by moment into every interaction and that we bring our whole selves, mind, body, and spirit to the work that we’re doing.”

Segment 6 (05:34):
“We have to slow down, go within, make decisions based on what we know is right rather than reacting to external pressures and circumstances. This is how we connect to what matters. This is how we connect to our values and how we align with our organisation’s mission and vision. This is heart-centered leadership. I was asked recently, “Do you want to push more water down the river, or do you want to change the course of the river?” We can change the course of the river. We can bring meaningful change to healthcare just by using our heads, but following our hearts. Thank you.”



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