Note from Art: My next few posts will be brief insights gained as a result of my observations and experiences at The Mayo Clinic.

From Dr. William Mayo in his description of the three conditions essential to the future success of the Mayo Clinic:

“#3 Continuing interest by every member of the staff in the professional progress of every other member.”

I love that Dr. Mayo recognized the critical nature of learning and development as a part of the core values of this remarkable medical institution.  There’s no denying the importance of this action-oriented value for learning from and developing others, and there’s no deferring it to another department. It’s right there for everyone to see, ponder, think about, act upon and support.

In thinking back on the cultures I’ve been part of or those that I’ve had the occasion to support as a consultant, I truly haven’t observed more than a handful that had their own form of focus on the development of everyone, as articulated so succinctly by Dr. Mayo.  Interestingly, the organizations that did seem to get this, even if they didn’t describe it in quite the same way, were (and are) leaders in their markets.  Somehow, when people seek to learn from each other as well as take collective ownership for promoting organization-wide learning and professional development, good things happen.

While all organizations have their faults and warts and I suspect an institution that has 40,000+ people show up for work everyday has more than a handful, Mayo continues to be the brand of choice when we truly need help.  Walk the halls and talk to and share stories with people supporting their family members here, and the message is the same over and over again: We’re here because it’s the best. We’re here for answers. We’re here again because of how they helped us the last time. It’s consistent and never-ending.

While there’s no claim of causation or even correlation between the value described above and the performance and reputation of Mayo, I see and hear the values at work in every encounter.  (More on this in an upcoming post.)

Too often, we push the development of others off to a department or worse yet, to a third party training organization that has no basis in understanding the culture and no authority to support the teachings through coaching and on-going learning.  This is lousy management.  Similarly, instead of encouraging learning and knowledge sharing, much of our built-up knowledge remains cloistered in silos. Again, poor management.

If you have the privilege of leading others, consider what Dr. Mayo’s 3rd condition for sustaining success means to you, your team and your organization.

It’s time to take the important people development responsibility back from whatever department purports to own it, and work to knock down knowledge barriers and other fences that keep people from sharing and learning from each other.  You might just be building the foundation for your own high-performance culture.