The Super Bowl and Winning Organization Strategies

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What makes a winning team, in football and in health care?

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PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

One can conclude that the Super Bowl is the biggest event bringing individuals together in the United States. Its popularity thereby must contain some mental health benefits. We will devote a few of our upcoming columns to these particular mental health matters—such as a love story and how to choose employees—in this particular Super Bowl. Today’s is on preventing burning.

Burning out has been a recalcitrant epidemic for clinicians in the United States, though you never seem to hear about it in football and other sports. Given that, are there organizational strategies by national football league teams that could be adapted to medical teams and systems?

Although the 2 teams playing for the championship on Sunday, Kansas City and San Francisco, have been among the most winning teams in recent years, it is my nearby team, the Green Bay Packers, that catches my organizational attention the most. I hate to admit that, because they are the successful opponents to my beloved, but recently losing, Chicago Bears.

Even though they are not in the Super Bowl, falling just 1 game short, the Green Bay Packers were a success story this past year, as they have been in many recent years, despite it being the youngest aged team. Over many years, that success has overcome what seemed to be major obstacles, including being located in a very small city with a small native Black population which might provide more comfort to Black players. How have they done that?

Some of the financial challenges for a small city have been overcome by fan-ownership (the only team to do so), rather than a single wealthy person or group. Being nonprofit correlates with our not-for-profit managed care systems, which often put more emphasis of patient care rather than profits.1 Mutual ongoing interpersonal relationships is one of the keys to reducing racism, and that has occurred in Green Bay by necessity.

A recent article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Use Packers’ playbook to build team” conveniently provides other system steps that seem correlated with vitalization rather than burnout.

  • “Hire employees who have a healthy sense of confidence, not big egos.” For highly paid players with much public admiration, you might think that is difficult. The same concern might be with clinicians who have tended to think they are god-like. In both settings, though, teamwork is often the key to the most success.
  • “Model personal responsibility, especially when things go wrong.” In football, that means individual players and coaches admit mistakes. In medicine, managed care was able to thrive in part because data indicated that quality of care was less what it was assumed and claimed to be.1
  • “Invest in the development of young employees.” From a financial standpoint, the more youth, the less cost. However, that can only work well in football and medicine if there are good elder mentors and an emphasis on employee development.
  • “Emphasize incremental, consistent progress to goals.” Incremental quality improvement emphasis is a key to improvement, both in football and medicine, and ways to document that are necessary.
  • “Celebrate resilience. You will experience obstacles, disappointments.” No matter what, there are outside and unanticipated factors that may stymie success of football teams. The same is true in medicine and really any organization. Small or bigger traumas may then ensure. Increasing resilience by processing the trauma, getting the support of others, and a renewed and revised revision often leads to follow-up strengthening of character and mental health.

Certainly, I would add that leadership is also a key to such organizational success, as is the case in medicine.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry and is now in retirement and retirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.

Reference

1. Moffic HS. The Ethical Way: Challenges & Solutions for Managed Behavioral Healthcare. Jossey-Bass; 1997.

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