The unexpected cost of winning

Does winning kill productivity and innovation? Does it create complacency?

A few years ago I read an article that cited a study of recipients of the Fields Medal, the most prestigious prize in mathematics. The authors, Harvard’s George Borjas and Notre Dame’s Kirk Doran, learned that mathematicians who win the award publish less in the years afterward than their competitors who were selected for other prestigious awards before the age of 40 (the age limit for the Fields Medal).

There are several hypotheses for why this happens:

  • Sometimes innovative work takes longer to complete
  • Research opportunities expand to other areas of expertise
  • Winners are more willing to take risks to pursue new areas

However, what if winning produces an unintended consequence of complacency?

Fields Award winners benefit from enormous prestige, incredible job security and endless research opportunities. With these benefits, winners may be more likely to choose leisure activities over work, what economists call the income effect. The newfound prestige and job security may encourage recipients to work less, since they have already won the most prestigious math award.

Using awards as a springboard for innovation

Best in Klas 2015 2016I bring this up because it reminds me of where Hyland, creator of OnBase, stands today. Recognized as a ‘leader’ in the Gartner Magic Quadrant and recently winning consecutive ‘Best in KLAS’ awards, OnBase is one of the strongest performing healthcare software solutions available.

However, these honors are not the end goal. Sure, winning feels great, who doesn’t love to be recognized for their hard work? We’re honored that 100 percent of customers would buy our product again.

We believe this decision stems from listening to customers and working to meet their needs today and as the healthcare industry evolves. Through advisory boards and surveys, we’ve gained incredible insight into how we can help improve the experience of clinicians, administrators and patients. It is through this collaboration with our customers, partners, and organizations like KLAS and Gartner that we continue to benefit from their insights to improve not just the product but our customer engagement.

It takes lot of listening as an organization and we remind each other daily to “keep listening.” We remind each other that the awards are nice, but they should serve as a springboard to more innovation, not an invitation to congratulate ourselves and stand still.

Hylanders work on behalf of better patient care, faster service and simpler healthcare. If we can help our customers accomplish these goals, everyone benefits. We are incredibly thankful and appreciative of our customers and of the awards and recognition we’ve received, but it’s all in the name of better healthcare.

Susan deCathelineau

Susan deCathelineau

With more than 20 years of healthcare technology and operations leadership experience, Susan deCathelineau is a leader in providing management and consultant services for Health Information Management, Revenue Cycle and Electronic Medical Record strategies. Most notably, she was responsible for the successful enterprise-wide OnBase implementation at Allina Health, which included the integration with the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) initiative. In her current role at Hyland, deCathelineau is responsible for developing and implementing a global strategic vision, to ensure that OnBase Healthcare solutions and services earn customer loyalty and deliver operational excellence. Prior to joining Hyland in 2006, deCathelineau was director of corporate information services at Allina Health System and vice president of product management at QuadraMed. She holds a bachelor’s degree in health information management from the College of St. Scholastica, and completed her master’s degree in health services administration at the College of St. Francis. She is currently Hyland’s vice president for global healthcare sales and services.

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