Renowned Mayo Clinic’s knack for acting small despite its size and long-standing reputation — demonstrating agility, efficiency and flexibility — is one secret of its outstanding employee relations and customer service, according to a book co-authored by a Mays Business School professor and a marketing professional. The book, Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic: Inside One of the World’s Most Admired Service Organizations, has an excerpt scheduled to appear in Business Week, is currently ranked first in Amazon’s healthcare category, is frequently first in the customer service category, and has been selected for IBM’s executive book club.

The book goes on to tell that another avenue where Mayo Clinic sets the tone for excellence is the hiring process — said to resemble auditions for a Broadway show.

Berry
Berry

“Despite demands or urgent needs to add staff, the clinic has been purposefully stubborn about not lowering its hiring standards,” notes the book, co-authored by Leonard Berry, who holds the rank of distinguished professor of marketing at Texas A&M University, and Kent Seltman, marketing director at the Mayo Clinic from 1992 through 2006. Berry also serves as a professor of humanities in the College of Medicine in the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center.

From the boardroom to basic patient care, Management Lessons takes a rare in-depth look at the renowned organization’s inner workings. The lessons explored and explained by the two authors not only explain the success of the $7 billion enterprise, they also provide a road map for other service organizations.

To research the book, Berry and Seltman interviewed leaders, clinicians, staff and patients and observed hundreds of clinician-patient interactions to understand the management culture and systems that produce Mayo Clinic’s signature service to patients and their family members.

Gerald Zaltman, a Harvard Business School professor and author of How Customers Think, calls the publication, “Quite possibly the most important management book to appear in more than a decade… essential reading for the leaders of any type of organization.” Quint Studer, CEO of The Studer Group, suggests the book “should be required reading for every healthcare leader.”

At the heart of the clinic’s 100-plus years of success is a core value virtually all its employees believe in and can cite: “The needs of the patient come first.”

“This value is verbalized daily in the care setting as clinical decisions are made,” Berry says. “And, just as importantly, it is verbalized every day as well by the organization’s leaders as they determine operational and long-term strategies.”

The book’s lessons center on the allocation of talent, with recommendations to “Build Leadership Bench Strength” and “Focus on the Performers” — and on presentation of the product: “Play Branding Defense, Not Just Offense” and “Turn Customers into Marketers.”

Berry’s relationship with the Mayo Clinic dates back to 2001, when he served as a visiting scientist there. He also has written several best-selling books on the topic of service quality, and he serves on the board of directors of several major public companies and national not-for-profit organizations.