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November 15, 2017

Franciscan Values and Mayo Clinic’s DNA

By Lee Aase, Director, Mayo Clinic Social Media Network

In an earlier post in this series on Mayo Clinic's cultural DNA and how it relates to our embrace of social media, I attempted to boil down the essence of Mayo Clinic's culture to four "base pairs" analogous to the building blocks of DNA.

I suggested that those characteristics - Teamwork, Altruism, Progress and Stewardship - connected by the twin strands of Revolutionary Organization and Networked Communication, captured the essence of Mayo Clinic.

I saw this as a way of further distilling the Franciscan values (represented by the acronym RICH TIES) that have been part of Mayo Clinic since founding through the partnership with the Sisters of Saint Francis in the aftermath of the devastating 1883 tornado:

  • Respect - Treat everyone in our diverse community including patients, their families and colleagues with dignity.
  • Integrity - Adhere to the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and personal responsibility, worthy of the trust our patients place in us.
  • Compassion - Provide the best care, treating patients and family members with sensitivity and empathy.
  • Healing - Inspire hope and nurture the well-being of the whole person, respecting physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
  • Teamwork - Value the contributions of all, blending the skills of individual staff members in unsurpassed collaboration.
  • Innovation - Infuse and energize the organization, enhancing the lives of those we serve, through the creative ideas and unique talents of each employee.
  • Excellence - Deliver the best outcomes and highest quality service through the dedicated effort of every team member.
  • Stewardship - Sustain and re-invest in our mission and extended communities by wisely managing our human, natural and material resources.

I was asked to present to Mayo Clinic's Professionalism & Values Seminar Series last year on how social media is consistent with both medical professionalism and Mayo's values, and here's how I mapped the Franciscan values to the four cultural DNA base pairs I identified:

Those listed in red are the Franciscan values. To get down to four base pairs in my DNA base pair metaphor, I looked for words that could combine some of the values in a way that is perhaps even more encompassing.

The memorable acronym (TAPS), was a bonus.

Teamwork stands alone. You'll note that in addition to being one of the Franciscan values, the words "team" and "team member" are liberally sprinkled through the definitions of the others.

Altruism includes the Franciscan values of Compassion and Healing. Wikipedia defines Altruism as "the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others, and altruistic synonyms include unselfish, selfless, compassionate, kind, public-spirited; charitable, benevolent, beneficent, philanthropic and humanitarian. 

Progress is the overarching concept that includes the Franciscan values of Excellence and Innovation. It's about being the best we can every day (striving for excellence) and always looking for ways to improve (innovation).

Stewardship, as I considered it, seemed related not only to managing our "human, natural and material resources" as defined in the Franciscan value, but also to preserving and building upon the legacy of Mayo Clinic passed down to us by our predecessors. Being good stewards of that inheritance includes upholding the foundational values of Integrity and Respect.

In the next post in this series, I'll describe the first of two strands in our Mayo Clinic DNA Double Helix: Revolutionary Patient-Centered Organization.

Lee Aase is a Communications Director for Mayo Clinic's Social & Digital Innovation team and is Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. This post is part of a series called Mayo Clinic's Double Helix: How Revolutionary Organization and Networked Communication Built America's #1 Hospital.

Tags: #MayoClinicDNA, Mayo Clinic History, Mayo Franciscan Values


Matthew Rehrl

Posts: 53
Joined: Feb 01, 2016
Posted by @matthewrehrl, Nov 18, 2017

The other one I would add for The Mayo ( which could be a subset of Teamwork and respect ) is Trust. You seem to deeply trust your employees.

You know, I often run across the idea of community and teamwork when discussing organizational missions or values and I tend to resonate with it about 99% of the time, but it does raise the question of how you deal with creatives or are not team players and who lack even basic social skills?

I remember working at Texas instruments years ago, and the mythology was the key breakthrough of the semi-conductor was made by a lone ranger, fully going against the tide, working by himself on vacation. Although it certainly took a team to develop semi-conductor technology, there real paradigm shift was made by a loner.

TI subsequently developed a parallel career ladder with basically created a subclass of technical creatives who didn’t report through the normal chain, and were somewhat left to their own devices. In a sense it was a way to capture the skills and gifts of brilliant people who were never going to be part of or comfortable with a typical “team”.

( I once proposed an internal “dyad’ structure to HR which linked very high creative, technical IQ people (with horrible social skills) with very high emotional IQ people (with minimal technical skills) as kind of an internal 2 person creative group. It didn’t get much traction, I suspect because its hard for a teamwork culture to accept the value of a lone ranger who nearly by definition is usually swimming against the stream and challenging some of the fundamental values of the organization.)

Posted by @LeeAase, Nov 20, 2017

That’s a really interesting concept. Within Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic we have developed a promotion track that involves more project management than people management for similar reasons (not that anyone in our line of work is likely to have “horrible” social skills.) I’m sure that within our labs there is likely some significant variation in social skills, and that part of good leadership is finding ways for all types to be able to contribute at peak levels.

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