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How to Set High Business Standards

One person can help an entire institution set high standards for performance improvement. Peter Drucker illustrates:

A new hospital administrator, holding his first staff meeting, thought that a rather difficult matter had been settled to everyone’s satisfaction, when one of the participants suddenly asked: “Would this have satisfied Nurse Bryan?” At once the argument started all over again and did not subside until a new and much more ambitious solution to the problem had been hammered out.

Nurse Bryan, the administrator learned, had been a long-serving nurse at the hospital. She was not particularly distinguished, had not in fact ever been a supervisor. But whenever a decision on patient care came up on her floor, Nurse Bryan would ask, “Are we doing the best we can to help this patient?” Patients on Nurse Bryan’s floor did better and recovered faster. Gradually over the years, the whole hospital had learned to adopt what became known as “Nurse Bryan’s Rule”‘; had learned, in other words, to ask: “Are we really making the best contribution to the purpose of this hospital?”

Though Nurse Bryan herself had retired almost 10 years earlier, the standards she had set still made demands on people who in terms of training and position were her superiors.

Peter Drucker “The Effective Executive”, 1967, ISBN 0-06-051067-0

You can read our review of this business book classic here.  It’s a whole book on personal performance improvement.

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