Difficult Conversations Podcast
Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician
Episode 118 | November 17, 2020
Human Centered Approach to Leadership
Master Human Centered Innovation Strategist
Welcome to Difficult Conversations – Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician with Dr. Anthony Orsini. On today’s episode, my special guest is Holly O’Driscoll, an industry expert in the field of Design Thinking and human centered innovation. She is the former Global Design Thinking Leader at Proctor & Gamble and led more than 250 design thinking experiences, often at the request of C-suite executives. She has built a reputation as a master human centered innovation strategist, trainer, and facilitator. Her passions include problem solving, the organizational strategy, unleashing the diversity of people, leadership philosophy, and creating conditions that allow human creativity and curiosity to thrive. She is the founder and CEO of Ampersand Innovation, which is a Design Thinking and human centered innovation strategy consultancy. In addition, she is a globally sought after keynote speaker as well. As always, Dr. Orsini keeps his promise about two things, that you will feel inspired, and you will have learned valuable lessons to be a better and more compassionate communicator.
Holly shares her story . She defines what “design thinking” is and explains the human centered approach focusing on five principles that were made famous by the Stanford University d. School: Empathy, Definition, Ideation, Prototyping, and Testing. Dr. Orsini talks about his technique in teaching empathy and connecting to a patient. Holly tells us the results of a bad leader, how to fix a bad culture, and how to get people excited about their job. We also learn why Holly would choose to first hire someone with integrity and why she believes leadership is something you can teach. Holly tells us about using the Empathy Map which is focused on sketching out what people are thinking, feeling, saying, and doing on the inside and outside. Find out why Holly prefers deep conversations versus a survey? She shares a story on being vulnerable and how to connect with people.. Holly talks about the “sceptic” in the room. She tells us how important it is to learn the names of people and to connect on a human level. Dr. Orsini shares a funny story when he was in and working as a substitute teacher. We hear inspiring stories from Dr. Orsini about communicating and building relationships and how his “It’s All in the Delivery” training program does something called, “see something, say something” We end with Holly telling us the most difficult type of conversation that she’s had, and Dr. Orsini finishes by saying, “People trust people who are real people, not fake people. Be genuine, be real, build the trust, and be humble.” If you enjoyed this podcast, please hit the subscribe button to find out more about what we do and how we teach communication.
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Holly O’Driscoll (1s):
The leaders have been rewarded for a certain set of behaviors. And so part of what I’ve come to believe is
that the condition’s inside of the organization direct that the reward systems inside the organization promote
a certain way of working as a way of getting results. And you might be the smartest person in the room, but it
doesn’t for a moment, really make a difference. When, you know, you may be you’ve left a trail of bodies
behind you because you have trampled over, you know, the rest of the team or you’ve taken all the credit or
are you throwing people under the bus and they continue to get rewarded. So until that reward system
pauses and says, hold on a second, right?
Holly O’Driscoll (44s):
What kind of leader we building here? What kinds of organizational climate are we creating and, are we
intentional about who we want to be as an organization? How do we want to show up what kind of employee
experience do we want to deliver? What kind of, you know, end user or patient experience do you want to
deliver? And what is that narrative that we want them to carry with them throughout the course of their
Announcer (1m 8s):
Welcome to Difficult Conversations: Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Dr.
Orsini is a practicing physician and the President and CEO of the Orsini Way, As a frequent keynote speaker
and author Dr Orsini has been training healthcare professionals and business leaders how to navigate
through the most difficult dialogues. Each week, you will hear inspiring interviews with experts in their field
who tell their story and provide practical advice on how to effectively communicate. Whether you are a
doctor are faced with giving a patient bad news, a business leader who wants to get the most out of his or
her team member’s or someone who just wants to learn to communicate better, this is the podcast for you.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (1m 53s):
Well Welcome to another episode of Difficult Conversations: Lessons I learned as an ICU Physician This is
Dr. Anthony Orsini and I, will be your host again this week. You know, every single week I am more and
more blessed, I get better and better guests. And they’ve all been amazing. When I first started out with this
podcast, I thought, Oh my goodness, nobody’s going to come on. Nobody is going to want to come on as my
guest. But each and every week, I’ve got some guests that help me with my promise, and that is to inspire
and to teach communication and make people want to be better. And this week is no exception. So this
week my guest is Holly O’Driscoll. Holly is an industry expert in the field of design thinking in human
Dr. Anthony Orsini (2m 36s):
As a global design thinking Leader at Procter and Gamble. Holly partnered with teams across the company
to lead more than 250 design thinking experiences. Often at the request of C suite executives. Through her
20 plus year career, Holly has built a reputation as a master of human centered innovation strategists,
trainer, and facilitator. Her passions include problem solving, problem framing. The organizational strategy
unleashing the diversity of people, leadership philosophy and creating conditions that allow human creativity
and curiosity to thrive. She is the founder and CEO of Ampersand Innovation, which I love that name. And
you’ll find out why a design thinking and human centered innovation strategy consulting agency.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 20s):
Holly is the former chairperson in lead instructor of the Rutgers University design thinking executive
education program, which she may not know this, but that’s my Alma mater. She has lectured at the Parsons
school of design Harvard business school, Stanford university’s graduate school of business, and many
more prestigious schools. In addition, Holly has contributed to several books and is working on her own
book, which I’m waiting to hear about. And Holly is a globally sought after conference keynote speaker. She
has a BA in chemistry and an MBA at Thomas Moore college. She lives in Cincinnati with their husband and
four children. Holly Welcome!
Holly O’Driscoll (3m 57s):
Hi, thanks so much, Dr. Orsini really excited to join you today.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (4m 1s):
So this is a really been looking forward to it is we met by phone from a mutual friend I guess about a month
ago, we spoke on the phone. Things were so great I thought, well, all I had to do is hit record and I just, we
had our interview it just without even preparing for it. So I’m sure it’s going to go well, my audience is
growing every week. I’m really very blessed that way. And it’s right now it’s about 75% Healthcare and 25%
business. Although getting more and more amazing guests like, you know, I had Ann Barr Thompson that I
had just interviewed this morning. We’ve had Claude Silver. My cousin James Orsini from the Sasha group.
My business part is growing more and more. And I think that’s because it’s becoming evident to people that
communication is communication, and that if you want to be successful in healthcare, you’d better learn how
to communicate with your co-workers your team members and especially your patients.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (4m 53s):
And if you want to be a successful leader, you’d better learn how to communicate all that turns into this
culture, which we are going to talk about. So I really am dying for, because I think my audience right now is
asking two questions. Oh my goodness. What is design thinking? And how does this have to do with difficult
conversations that I promise you, we are going to answer both of those, so it stay on it. But before I ask you
that question, I always start off the same way. Tell us who Holly O’Driscoll is. And by the way, this is what I’m
told. This is the toughest conversation of all the interviews. So it was Holly O’Driscoll. And tell me about your
Holly O’Driscoll (5m 26s):
Well, thanks for that. So I’m, Holly, O’Driscoll and I live in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I’ve actually been in this
region in my entire life, but I’m going to start with the early part of my life, where for me, I got kicked out of
kindergarten. So I went to kindergarten for two weeks and I got kicked out for doing other people’s work,
telling the teacher how long she had to teach and it wasn’t going so well. And so I remember the walk out to
my mother’s car, and, you know, she said, get in, you’re not going back to kindergarten. And I said, well,
what am I going to do? And she said, I don’t know. I was like The oldest, right. We had to wait a couple of
weeks until the governor of Kentucky decided it was okay for me to go on to first grade.
Holly O’Driscoll (6m 9s):
So, you know, looking back, I think there were early signs that I had a natural propensity to kind of push the
boundaries and challenge assumptions. I just didn’t have language for that, you know, at age five, for sure.
And then I’ll fast forward a little bit to middle-school. So when I was in middle school, I had one of those
really nice zipper pouches for my pens and pencils, and still have this thing for a stationary items. Right. And
I would loan them out to classmates and I wouldn’t always get them back. And so I thought first that would
be a better way. And so I launched a pen and pencil rental business, and it was 2 cents a minute for a pencil
and 5 cents a minute for a pen. And so I came home
2 (6m 44s):
Some accountability in the world us good you know. So I came up with this bag of money
Holly O’Driscoll (6m 49s):
And, you know, my Mom said what are you doing and I said I’m running a business. She goes, Oh my
goodness, Holy cow. But you know, it didn’t, you learn, don’t rock the boat in kindergarten, you know, what’s
going on and go with the flow. And I think that we learn these messages and these ways of living and
working and communicating really early on in our life. And I don’t think they are serving as well. So, you
know, fast-forward to them in, to my kind of University ending day’s and I went and interviewed with P and G
and joining in the engineering organization in 1996. So I spent six years their in engineering, the for moving
on to the commercial side of the business. And so I have this depth of technical expertise that when
slammed together with kind of the business side of things really unlocked this kind of hybrid model of
thinking and working inside of the organization.
Holly O’Driscoll (7m 35s):
There weren’t a lot of people that kind of cross that chasm between the technical and the commercial. So I
moved to the Design organization where I was brought in to really be able to translate from the technical and
commercial and vice-versa, and then round about 2007 design thinking came to P and G. And so this really
was born out of a combination of efforts from the Stanford university D school IIT in Chicago, the University
of Toronto, in Canada, and really trying to apply the mindset’s and methods of designers, to business and
business strategy and user experience and holistic design. And at that time, that was all pretty new to the
world. But for me, I had a baby in 2007, as soon as I came back, I got trained and in design thinking.
Holly O’Driscoll (8m 19s):
So for me, it changed my life because for the first time, and I was able to fully practice this idea that I help
people matter more than anything else that we can do. And that’s what I feel like I was really missing in my
engineering role and trying to really put people at the heart of that. And so I stayed in that part of the
organization, practicing design thinking for about another, you know, 11 or so years, I left a little more than
two years ago because the outside world kept calling. Right. How might we just want to say this? That was a
really great pattern and to kind of unlock, but also practicing that method and mindset of design thinking and
prototyping is this going to work? Can I run a small experiment?
Holly O’Driscoll (8m 59s):
Can I try it on, can I try to figure it out? So, yeah, so that’s been really great. I’ve done quite a bit of
consulting both in the private sector and in the public sector, working on civic innovation challenges to, you
know, re-imagining, what is an in store experience might look like for a brand training in this space as well
has been a really important part of the portfolio. And then also this academic lens. So for me, that’s when I
launched my company Ampersand Innovation and then you mentioned the title and, you know, for me, the
title was really intentional and important because in design thinking, we talked about the power of, and when
I think about unleashing that and doing that and telling that story Ampersand represents that.
Holly O’Driscoll (9m 40s):
And when you say, and do you know, what really is it connecting? Its connecting people and ideas and how
do we really get intentional about bringing that forward in all of that we do, right? The signal’s that we send,
the words that we use, the way that we communicate, the way that we show up and behave as leaders.
Setting the stage for this to really take root and stick. So for me, Ampersand is not just a name, it’s really
deep connection to really unleashing the potential of people and ideas. So, so that’s what I’ve been doing.
And you mentioned my family and my husband and four kids and two horses and two bunnies and a dog.
And, you know, we’d get the whole thing going on with that.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (10m 16s):
Wow, my God, I don’t know how you are. So you have that much energy. You answered the question. So
now we talking about human centered and again, I was asked to do this as a video way back when, and I
decided to just do audio for many reasons, but one of the things that’s missing, what it can do a video is for
my audience. Holly gets so excited when she talks about this, you’ve got this big smile. And when you talk
about people, that’s what really comes through. I can see it in your face. I mean, this is what I do, I, the
communication and the body language. So there’s your answer to your second question audience about
what does this have to do with communication? It has everything to do with communication. Just design
thinking that term. Can you just define that for us a little bit?
Holly O’Driscoll (10m 56s):
Absolutely. So, and I’m going to give you my definition. There’s many out there. And so the one that I’ve
been sticking with is this human centered approach to really anything that you want to go after. I focus on
with clients quite a bit solving problems, solving challenges, and I think communication may, you know, fit
under some of those constraints as well. But this human centered approach, focusing on five principles that
were made famous by the Stanford University D school, the first is empathy. The second is problem
definition. Third is Ideation forth is Prototyping and fifth is Testing. And so this focus on empathy, empathy is
first for a reason, the idea that you need to understand what it looks and feels like to be someone else and to
experience their reality and recognize that their reality is their truth.
Holly O’Driscoll (11m 44s):
And even if it’s not yours, it’s theirs and we need to go down and go. Wow. Yeah. Can you tell me more
about that? Right. So often I feel we’d been socialized or educated and then corporatized to say, Oh, I’m not
sure. I agree. Let me lean back and cross my arms and you walk away or say, yeah, I don’t agree.
Therefore, something must be wrong with you. And there’s a different way. If we lean in and say, hold on a
second, can you tell me more? I’m not sure I agree and leaning in you. No, you can’t see that on the
podcast. Right? But you can start to imagine what it looks and feels like to lean in instead of kind of cross in
the arms and bring that to life.
Holly O’Driscoll (12m 26s):
And so if you think about Empathy as that first principle, it really is the foundation of everything else. Solving
challenges with the person at the center, this whole concept of human centeredness, nothing else matters if
the human needs aren’t met. And so say you’ve got a terrific technology or you’ve got a cost structure or all
of these things that were often asked to deliver on. If it’s not adding value and meaning to the human
experience, I would argue it’s not useful. And how do we really prioritize the human needs first?
Dr. Anthony Orsini (12m 56s):
So it goes into culture of the place. And as you speak and really thinking about what happens in healthcare
and when I’m asked to train physicians on how to communicate, it’s all about, you said, Empathy I used the
word compassion, very similar. It’s all about empathy, compassion. And in fact, a few months ago we had
Helen Riess. Dr. Helen Riess was a guest on my show and that’s what she does. She teaches Empathy,
she’s a Harvard psychologist. Then she does that to businesses as well. But I think what happens in
medicine, I think it was also what happens in business. If we get really caught up in the number’s, the bottom
line, physicians tell me all the time that I forgot.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (13m 38s):
That why did this in the first place? And physician burnout is almost 60% right now physicians have the
number one profession for suicides. And it’s because you’re taking that excitement out of what your doing.
And so when I’m able to speak to physicians and you know, your five principles or almost the same five, I
use a different acronym, but I’m like, Oh my God, this is exactly have a plan, be empathetic, build a
relationship to be a genuine person. And what’s really nice about when I do personal coaching with
physicians or when I do it on a large scale is when you remind people like you leaned over, that’s exactly
what I teach.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (14m 21s):
When I tell a doctor, how do you connect with a patient? But one of the things is don’t look over at a
computer lean over and look them in the eyes and smile and give them that active listening look where you
are really concentrating on in their eyes. Helen Riess used to say, make sure that when you say hello to
somebody, you remember what color their eyes are, because it just forces you to look at them. But what’s
great about my job is that after I’m able to meet with them, even on a large scale, I get people come back to
me and say, I remembered why I went into the medicine in the first place. And you know, you’re giving me a
few techniques that I can bond with my patient and still not go home at nine or 10 o’clock at night.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (15m 2s):
’cause there you go to Ampersand you could have, and you can have a job satisfaction and you can go
home at five o’clock and you can bond with your patient and still see 25 patients a day. It’s exactly right. And
so getting a long winded question here, but that leads into my biggest issues are how many people are being
put in leadership that have no business being in leadership because they’re the smartest person in the
group, but they can’t communicate. They can’t build loyalty. And again, I’m paralleling back to the healthcare
there’s physicians that I know that are brilliant. But their bedside manner is so bad and they’re not trusted by
Dr. Anthony Orsini (15m 45s):
And because they don’t have the communication skills, which by the way, as you know, it’s not that hard to
teach, you know, lean forward and looking in your eyes, its not that hard, but you can be the smartest person
in the group and also be the worst leader. And that leads me into my question about what you do with
leadership and culture. And the last time we spoke, you were discussing how these companies just had this
horrible culture that you are asked to fix. So tell me about a poor leader, how that works, how do you fix the
culture? How do you get people to get excited about their job again. Long question.
Holly O’Driscoll (16m 21s):
I love it because it happens all the time and you know what they think so many organizations are struggling
with. You know, how might we build a leader that really does inspire and promotes trust and creates a
climate of candor and you know, psychological safety, which we’ll talk about it in a moment. But when you
think about that, core leaders, the leaders have been rewarded for a certain set of behaviors. And so part of
what I’ve come to believe is that the conditions inside of the organization direct that the reward systems
inside the organization promote a certain way of working as a way of getting results.
Holly O’Driscoll (17m 3s):
And you might be the smartest person in the room, but it doesn’t for a moment, really make a difference.
When, you know, you may be you’ve left a trail of bodies behind you because you have trampled over, you
know, the rest of the team or you’ve taken all the credit or are you throwing people under the bus and they
continue to get rewarded. So until that reward system pauses and says, hold on a second, what kind of
leader we are building here? What kinds of organizational climate or are we creating and are intentional
about who we want to be as an organization. How do we want to show up what kind of employee experience
do we want to deliver? What kind of end user or patient experience do you want to deliver? And what is that
narrative that we want them to carry with them throughout the course of their journey, whether that is, you
know, you’re coming in as a new or coming in as a new patient.
Holly O’Driscoll (17m 52s):
When you think about, you know, when people are coming to healthcare providers, maybe it’s when things
are going well, we hope that they’re going for well visits, but often that’s not necessarily the case. And so
how do you really step into that space and say, Oh, you know what narrative, or are we going after? What
kinds of experiences are we aiming for it? And so when I think about the leader, I think the leader is one kind
of cog and that entire organization’s machine and the leader is just as much as I would say, an artifact of that
culture as they are a contributor to that culture. And so when you think about, you know, they’re building on
this platform for which they’ve been rewarded, and until that reward system changes, it’s really hard to
change the leadership and the mindset and the way that leaders show up.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (18m 39s):
So you kinda answered my next question, but I am not sure. So my next question was going to be do
companies, hire poor leader’s or can you take a smart person and make them a leader. If you were giving
advice to a new company, would you say I can train most of your smart people that would be good leaders or
don’t pick that person. I’ve trained thousands of thousands of doctors. And I can tell you when it comes to
the communication skills and I call it compassionate communication out of a hundred doctors, we’ve found
that 15% of them, I can put them in an, you would love for them as a new patient. They are wonderful.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (19m 19s):
You’ll walk through the fire for them. And by the way, if you trust your doctor, you are a very unlikely to sue
them. Even if something goes wrong, that’s how much trust is important. You know, 15% of ’em I can train
every day. They are never going to get it every day, but the other 70% are teach me. I want to know this was
awesome. So if you are starting a new company, which way do you go do you hire the good communicators
or do you hire the smart people and teach them?
Holly O’Driscoll (19m 45s):
I would back up or even one step further and I would choose to hire for integrity. And I don’t believe integrity
is something that you can teach, but I absolutely believe leadership is something that you can teach. And if
there’s a willingness to kind of go there and grow tthere it’s a whole lot easier. So, you know, inspired by the
work of Carol Dweck out of Stanford, she wrote a book called mindset and she talks about growth mindset
versus fixed mindset. And if you have been exposed to climates may be in your educational experiences
where it wasn’t okay for you to be wrong. We are getting something wrong, meant there’s something wrong
with you. Its a lot harder to step into that growth mindset than it is to kinda stay in that fixed mindset where,
you know, there’s one right answer.
Holly O’Driscoll (20m 29s):
There’s only one right answer. You know, how can I figure out how to not look bad in this situation versus
really saying, wow, what did we learn and how can I grow and deliver on these experiences and
expectations that not only do the organization has, but the end users or the patients are the consumers
clients or you know, whoever that is, what do they have? And so I would choose to hire for integrity and train
leadership. What comes with training Leadership is also a training. This, I would argue a human centered
mindset on it’s in service of others, this idea of servant leadership and coming with empathy coming with
curiosity, you know, as we mentioned earlier, kinda that leaning in versus crossing your arms and walking
away there’s ways to do it.
Holly O’Driscoll (21m 14s):
And often I find organizations just fly right by it on, Oh, because you pass the screening process, we assume
that you are going to be able to lead this team. In fact, you know, if you think back to the first time that you
managed a team were you are well-trained two, go and do that to lead that group of people? And most of the
time they have people respond to that question with no Holly and they weren’t right. They weren’t trained to
do that. And so they learned by fire and they learned from some really tough experiences and there’s an
opportunity to step in and feel more supported and to get really intentional about the skill set that you wanna
build every step of the way. And I think at that point around getting intentional is just as important as the
integrity piece on, you know, how do you hire for integrity and then get really crystal clear and intentional
around the skills that you want to build such that you are cultivating great leaders, not just now in the
moment in the organization, but great leadership that will carry you into the next 50 years, hundred years.
Holly O’Driscoll (22m 10s):
You know, whatever that horizon looks like in your organization, you know that this idea of now and for
generations to come, how do you establish those standards of leadership and high expectations to set the
stage for what’s important here? What gets rewarded here? What’s valued. What are those stories that we
tell each other, when, you know, maybe you run into your neighbor, walking the dog around the block, what
would you say to them about the leader you have in your organization or what the climate of the place is, or
kind of the idea that the CEO talks about? You know, what do you stand for in the hearts and minds of
Dr. Anthony Orsini (22m 43s):
One of the words that I use all the time is genuine and you spoke about leaders is their only one answer. I’ll
make an observation that I noticed when I was training, is that the smartest people in the room had several
correct answers for some one question because they were so confident in their ability that I think that when
you truly understand something that you understand those more than one way of doing it, but the word I’m
thinking of, I use all the time is insecurity, right? So the leaders’ who are insecure, they just, it has to be done
this way and will, why can it be done in that way? Just because it has to be done this way. And I think I’ve
had some bosses who are so smart, like, OK, well that’s not the way I would do it, but go ahead.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (23m 24s):
And it makes you engaged and it makes you exciting. And I don’t understand, I guess my audience is getting
tired of me saying this before. I don’t understand how certain people advance to these leadership and then
tear down the culture, which is the next question. I’m going to ask you that you tear down a culture of a place
where I guess I’m trying to remember the exact quote, but it’s something to the affect of the worst thing that
can happen is when your employees go silent, your best employees. And I’ve seen that before, I’ve worked
with bosses that I would kill for. And I’ve worked with the bosses that I didn’t trust. Stephen Covey is on this
week, his podcast dropped this week the speed of trust and I don’t get it.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (24m 7s):
Holly, why do we let these people lead when we can find somebody? And I guess people like you are
helping, but now let’s go into the next step. So now you’ve got these poor leaders, your culture’s terrible, the
employees are leaving, your employee engagement is so bad, you got this turnover, leader it doesn’t trust
the workers, workers don’t trust the leader, there are walking the dog and they are talking about what is it an
ass their boss is, and then they call you. And how do you fix that monumental problem? What goes through
Holly O’Driscoll (24m 40s):
Well, you know, it’s a really interesting scenario. And for me, I don’t think of it as fixing. I think of it as guiding
on, you know, when you think about wow, really understanding what do those drivers, one of those
behaviors and using a lot of the tools that we use and the innovation space to really unlock what’s going on.
So one of the one’s that we use quite often we call an empathy map and it was really focused on sketching
out what are people thinking, feeling saying, and doing, and you know, what’s happening on kind of the
inside, which is the thinking and the mind and the feeling of the heart, and then what’s happening on the
outside. What are people saying? What are the words that are coming out of their mouth and what are they
doing? What are those behaviors that show up and really sketching out What does that look like?
Holly O’Driscoll (25m 23s):
What does it look like for a specific leader? What does it look like if you were to do an analysis across the
core leadership team and how is that impacting your group? So the idea that certainly the leader sets the
tone for the rest of the organization is absolutely true because everybody’s watching.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (25m 40s):
So I’ll share, not to interrupt you, I’ll share an old Italian quote that my grandfather used to say, the fish rots
from the head down is what he used to say. I don’t know that you’ve ever heard of that, which by the way is
not true fish. Fish don’t rot from the head down but I used that all the time sorry to interrupt you. But I just
had to say,
Holly O’Driscoll (25m 59s):
What’s the plan that says the same quote. And I think it’s really genius. Interesting to know the physiology is
actually not true or are they wrong? And organizationally, I would say absolutely it’s happening in that way.
And so we have to do some work to really map out what’s going on. How are people feeling? What are those
stories that are coming in with you? And I do a lot of work with images as well and have people choose an
image that represents what it feels like to come in to work every day. And sometimes, you know, I’ve had
people pictures in the image that is a radar shot, have a cyclone or a hurricane. And then they’re like, this is
what it looks and feels like. Okay. Tell me about that. And so evoking those stories, those human centered
stories are so much more impactful because I’ve seen other organizations that say, Oh, well look at the
employee’s of engagement or employee opinions or employee feedback.
Holly O’Driscoll (26m 47s):
And I’ll say, fair enough, but I’m not really interested in the survey. And they say, what do you mean? And
they say, my goodness, you know, if your spreadsheet has, I don’t know how many employees do you have
to have 5,000 employees, or you want me to look at the 5,000 rows spreadsheet and tell me that overall,
your average of the 4.4, the metrics are really lopsided in a lot of organizations as well, because if you’re
high fiving, because you get to a 4.4 and you know, out of five, why, what does that matter? And what those
moments for your employees look like every day and the impact that those leaders are having on them. And
the running joke that I often share is, you know, nobody’s ever looked at a spreadsheet that size and said,
Oh, 4.4, On brought to tears as a result of the 4.4 but for every story that everyone shares You know, there is
something you can take away.
Holly O’Driscoll (27m 36s):
That’s going to stay with you for a really long time. And sometimes it does result in tears for them and for
me. Right. And do you feel like, wow, you know, these are the stories that need to surface. And I think that is
so linked to our collective humanity. We, you know, for generations, humans should have sat around
campfires and listen to the stories and learned about life in that way and learn lessons that way. And wow,
the survey doesn’t do it justice, and yet it happens all the time. And so I would prefer a dozen or so really
great deep conversations to get a snapshot versus the survey. And I know its quick and easy and that’s our
mindset and there are a busy western world, but I would argue there’s such limited effectiveness and
Holly O’Driscoll (28m 16s):
And frankly it’s dehumanizing the depth of relationship and connection that could be happening inside of our
organizations. Imagine if you got some stories early on versus waiting for the survey to kick in, you know,
what was it like today? Or if you can choose a path that through the Paris airport used to travel, and that was
a thing to do. And it was gone and the past couple of years, and it passed through the Charles de Gaulle and
you know, you went to the restroom in there, they had this little stand and you’d hit, you know, how was the
condition of the restroom today? And you could have a frown or a straight face or a smile and then one that’s
joyful, right? And then you can get this emotional data in ways that, you know, don’t rely on, hey, your score
is a 4.4.
Holly O’Driscoll (28m 57s):
So starting there and understanding what’s going on with the people is always the richest place. You know,
when I’m taking on one of those situations, because it’s rooted in the Empathy,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (29m 6s):
It’s in our DNA from the caveman days to relationship, to form a human connection with people. And that’s, I
brought up genuine before if your leader or your coworker, if you happen to know that they have, how many
of you say you have four dogs and a rabbit,
Holly O’Driscoll (29m 22s):
The kids and a dog. Yeah,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (29m 27s):
There you go. So if you share, and I say that the physicians all the time share personal information with your
patients, you become a real person. It’s that human to human interaction. It’s in our DNA. And if you really
want to be happy at work, I’m astounded of how many companies do these employee engagement surveys
get poor scores and then do nothing about it.
Holly O’Driscoll (29m 49s):
Right? That’s the worst because not only could you tell them how you felt, but nobody cared enough to do
anything about it. Are you kidding?
Dr. Anthony Orsini (29m 55s):
Their response is their crazy, I don’t believe that.
Holly O’Driscoll (29m 59s):
And you know, I love the point you are hitting on, which I would describe as a vulnerability. How do you have
a snapshot into someone’s personal reality? What does it look and feel like for them and as leaders, the
leaders that show up with a sense of vulnerability connect, with their organizations so much better. And if
you’re sharing stories of hey, you know, hey, this is a vision for that we have for the future. Here’s an
example of what that could look like. And, Oh, by the way, let me tell you a story about a time when, you
know, I tried to do something really hard and I didn’t go so well. I used to have shame with my kindergarten
story. And then about 10 years ago, I was on maternity leave and doing some reflection and thought, wow,
there was a pattern here.
Holly O’Driscoll (30m 40s):
And instead of feeling badly about that moment in my life, I need to connect the dots and be really explicit,
such that other people can start to connect the dots in their own journeys and to figure out what does that
mean for their gifts and their energy and the impact they can have in the world. And I used to not feel great
about that. When you think about being vulnerable and setting the stage for sharing stories and sharing this
idea of, you know, we’re humans and we’re complex and we’re emotional and, what better way to connect
with others then to bring that forward on yourself,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (31m 14s):
Especially you brought up a new leader and you know, I’ll tell you something funny about medicine.It’s the
only job that as you’re training that you only have two choices. You either get promoted or you get fired. So,
you know, you start over you’re training in medical school and then you became a resident. You’re a
first-year resident. You have to really screw up very badly. Otherwise you’re going to get promoted, you going
to get promoted, but now you find yourself in a new job, in a new leader, there’s nurse’s around you or
maybe your a seasoned, physician and you’ve just taken a director job. The best thing that you can do is to
be genuine, to be humble and to say, how do we do things here instead of coming in and saying that nurses
and your worker’s, especially if you’re a brand new or they know you don’t know what you are doing, they’re
Dr. Anthony Orsini (31m 59s):
So don’t fake it
Holly O’Driscoll (32m 0s):
Right, as they think, Oh my gosh, I’ve got to train them such that they can get up and shine.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (32m 5s):
So say help me be vulnerable. I love that there are so many parallels between what you do in medicine. And
the last time I spoke to you, I’m going to, I need to get Holly to fix medicine.
Holly O’Driscoll (32m 16s):
I don’t know if I have those kinds of super powers, but I’m up for the fight.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (32m 19s):
Well, the medicine culture, and we’ll get to the next question is shortly, but in the culture of medicine right
now. And I think we talked about this last time. It’s not the insurance companies, that’s killing medicine right
now. It’s the inability of the hospital, administrations, the leaders to speak to the nurses and doctors and the
people on the ground floor. And that’s no different to business, and if I went and told the CEO how to do their
P and L he looked at me like, what the hell do you know and so that’s what happens with the physicians?
When you have the administrators to say, do this, and the doctor is look at them and go, what are you talking
about? Like this has nothing to do. And that caused job dissatisfaction, employee turnover, all that kind of
Dr. Anthony Orsini (33m 3s):
So I think I’m talking too much. So I want you to talk more, but a couple more questions. The next one is, I
know you give some training sessions, which are in a day, right? Some of them are two to three days long or
even longer. And you’re training a large number of people. And I know this happens to you cause it happens
to me all the time. There’s always the guy or girl that sits in the back and you can tell from her body
language or his body language that they think you are full of crap. Right. And why do I have to sit here? This
is so stupid. Just let me do my job and I’ll get outta here. You know, I’ve been pretty fortunate for the most
part through the workshops and the little humor and kind of engaging in that most of them come along.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (33m 46s):
What do you do with that person? Because they have to be on board too.
Holly O’Driscoll (33m 50s):
Boy, they absolutely have to be on board too. I love that. And I would say name it. So I called them the
skeptics. And so if you name the skeptics in the room and you’ll see, you know, who they are, the energy is
different. The eye contact is different or the stance, whether they are standing or whether they’re sitting, you
know, that you can go, Oh, okay. You’re exactly right. And someone either sit you here, or if this was better
than going into your day job today. So one of those two, which is usually the case, right? You might be a
tourist or you might be kind of hear because someone said, no, you need to go and you get to get it fixed or
learn how to work on this way and I’ll make it visible. And so you say, hold on a second, right?
Holly O’Driscoll (34m 30s):
What’s going on, you know, what are you thinking about? Can you bring us a story that will contribute to
vulnerability or, you know, an empathy for your patient, for example, and tapping into them and making it
really visible has been super effective. Right? So if it’s a group that is, I would say 50 people or less one of
the first things I do when I walk in is to go through introductions and I want to know who’s in the room and it
takes some time for sure, but it’s super intentional around creating a space for human centeredness. And
what’s more human centered than knowing the names of the people that you’re sharing space with. And I am
astonished by the number of leaders in organizations who don’t know the names of kind of, their two down,
Holly O’Driscoll (35m 12s):
And think if they don’t know the names of the people that are a second level down, they don’t know the
names of their direct report’s children are their pets or their significant other, or whoever, but connecting at a
human level. So, so important. And so once I know their names, we’ve done the round of introductions. I
play it back to them and I’m like, okay, you know, Dr. Orsini hi, really glad that you’re here. And I’ll say, let me
make sure I get it straight. I’ll do the circle. And people are kind of astonished at that point. I was, please
learning the names really matters. So when I can say, you know, hey Sarah, I notice that your body language
is a little different. You have something to add to this, or what’s going on.
Holly O’Driscoll (35m 55s):
You know, I called someone out in a session once and she said, I really have a toothache. And I said, okay,
hold on, let me go get some ibuprofen out of my bag. Let me help you. And so I called it a break and said,
you know, Hey, here’s what we’re going to do. Will come back. And 10 minutes, I’m gonna help her and get
her what she needs you to go grab a coffee. It will be back in 10 minutes. And she said, I was so afraid to
speak up and say something. I have some ibuprofen in my bag, but I didn’t want to interrupt. And I’m like, no,
right. This is about human centeredness. Go do what you need to do for you. Let me go get a bottle of stuff
and I’ll get you a glass of water or you stay put, but modeling that for the group, sent such as a signal on,
hey, it’s perfectly fine. You know, if a new person enters the conversation, or enters the room, if somebody
comes in late in their, like, I’ll invite them in and say, welcome.
Holly O’Driscoll (36m 41s):
Hi, I’m Holly who are you? And they’ll say, you know, Oh, well, I’m Tom. Okay. Hi Tom. Welcome what do you
guys think Tom needs to know? And I said to her or Tom, I’m not calling you out because maybe he had a
perfectly good reason or you had something going on. I’m not coming from a place of judgment. I want you
to feel included and a part of the conversation. So let’s pause for a moment and say what we think Thom
needs to know and will spend a couple of minutes doing that. So what happens Their the group says, O all
right. We are going to bring them along. We’re not going to make them feel badly and sit in the back or, you
know, make them feel like I need to sneak it. And I need to be really quiet and pretend I’m invisible when
everybody knows your not, we have these really weird behaviors for these moments that could be handled in
much more human centered ways.
Holly O’Driscoll (37m 24s):
And so one of those with a skeptic is calling them out. This is Sara, and what’s going on for you and really
bringing them into that conversation and inviting them into the story. When I kick off a session, usually we
started in a circle in the in person days and now that we do it on zoom, right? And we do it with a screen
share off, and you can see all the faces. I ask everybody, just turn their cameras on that. It’s intended to be
in an analogous circle. And we start it in a circle for a reason, because that’s where the stories come from.
That’s the campfire. Sometimes I’ll turn on a YouTube clip of a fireplace as well to really set the tone. If I think
people are going to get stuck. And it’s such a great signal to say, Hey, we’re here to support each other. I
used to do a lot of workshops in a space that was a loft space and had a hardwood floor.
Holly O’Driscoll (38m 9s):
And in the middle of the hardwood floor, we had a green carpet. When we caught up the green carpet of
candor, where you can safely share your truth. And the expectation is that everyone else supports you and
you can count on me to support you as well. So whatever that difficult conversation is that spirit of candor
and openness, and I’m not here to judge what you’re saying. I’m here to support you, to find and reveal your
truth is so, so important. And we can do it. We have just been socialized to operate in other ways that maybe
are more comfortable until you get comfortable trying on something new
Dr. Anthony Orsini (38m 41s):
And you are walking the walk. You are not just to be because you’re including those people. And many
people want to just be included. I’ll tell you a funny story. When I was in college, I made some money by
being a substitute teacher and the inner city in Newark, New Jersey. And there was a tough school. Like they
paid me $45 for the whole day, but I would go there and I’d sit there. And I was terrified because the kids
wouldn’t be, they run around, they wouldn’t be listening. And I learned after about three days, find the kid,
really the worst kid there, the, what is causing all the trouble. And, you know, Tommy today, you are in
charge of keeping everybody quiet. And I was like, Oh, I came home. And I said, this awesome, like the bully
is now telling everybody to be quiet, you know, what all he was doing was making them mad.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (39m 29s):
And, and that’s all he really wanted to do was be, he didn’t want to be the bully. He wanted it to be the
teacher’s helper. And once I learned that trick it was the easiest money I ever made. It just, it was great.
Holly O’Driscoll (39m 39s):
I know, but the insight there holds, whether it’s, you know, a kids’ in third grade or a grownups and
professionals and physician’s, and everybody wants to feel like they matter. And if you can bring the energy
and the eye contact and the ability to demonstrate that they are the only person in the room that matters in
that moment, you can tell them anything. Right. We have the ability to do that because it’s rooted in trust. So
I love that your talk about Stephen Covey and the speed of trust. That was actually a course that was put on
internally when I was working at Procter and gamble. So that core to the culture is, you know, the importance
of trust and everything else kind of stems from there, and absolutely the bedrock of leadership and
Holly O’Driscoll (40m 22s):
And I find it really interesting that the Gallup organization says, you know, I think at 16% of our employees
are actively engaged every day. And you feel like it’s a 16%, are you kidding? But I would argue the
remaining 84%, maybe don’t have that level of trust with their leader, with their manager and trying to set the
stage for something that is so much so important as trust is really hard. If your one, when we talked about it
earlier, right? Rooted in integrity, we need to be routed in integrity. We need to be really intentional and
intentional on your behaviors. What you say, what you do, how you show up, are you consistent? What
signals are you sending? Because if we can situationally kind of shift our tolerance for behaviors on, Oh,
Because, it was the leader of that said that I’m just going to keep nodding, right?
Holly O’Driscoll (41m 12s):
You’ve probably see it a million times where, you know, behind closed doors, you’d be saying, what in the
world is that? And you would never put up with that from your team. How might the organization create a
climate? And you starting with the leader where the leader can say, Hey, if I’m not congruent and consistent
with the principles I say are so important, I need you to hold me accountable. That only comes from a place
Dr. Anthony Orsini (41m 33s):
We can go on forever and ever. And you know, the program that I do in the name of my book, It’s all in the
delivery, one of the key components of the program after we train everyone, how to communicate, how to
build relationships with each other and the entire hospital that are building relationships with the patients are
telling them that it’s not what you say is how you say it. It just says, we’ve been talking by the way, audience.
There’s been a lot of communications skills here that we discussed. So I’m meeting my promise. We do
something to go see something, say something. And so we have these little stickers that say, it’s all in the
delivery. And any one in the hospital, you can be the housekeeper, is allowed to give to the doctor, the
nurse, anyone in the hospital. If they’ve had a good communication, they bonded a little sticker.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (42m 16s):
I was shocked when I did this the first time in four years ago, you can be a 65 year old director or CEO and
you get a sticker, you get a big smile on your face. It’s amazing, right? Like you were 65 years old or you get
a sticker. But the other thing we do is that we also empower everyone to also say, I noticed, so sometimes I
get really busy. Maybe I don’t have a good conversation with an employee. Maybe I didn’t smile and say,
hello. The housekeeper can say to me, Dr. Orsini it’s on the delivery. And my response is that we get
everybody in a promise to do this. My response is, well, thank you, Sandy. I forgot. Or I got caught up and
this is why it works. So you need that positive reinforcement.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (42m 57s):
You need that negative reinforcement for the audience out there. Holly and I can talk forever because I can
see your face. You get so excited about this stuff. You know, how excited I get about the staff, that it’s cool to
be able to learn communication and to learn about your DNA and how people feel and it’s frustrating a little
bit for me, because I don’t think it’s that hard.
Holly O’Driscoll (43m 15s):
Well, I so agree, right? This is part of how we’re wired as humans we’ve been brought up in systems that
don’t allow us to practice this in a thoughtful and intentional way, or we’ve been so conditioned to be a zero
sum thinkers, and it doesn’t have to be that way. How can we lean in and say, Hey, why am I think this is
going to be tough, but we’re going to get through it together and let’s talk about it. And even those most
challenging conversations can be handled and thoughtful and human centered in compassionate ways when
they are rooted in relationship and trust.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (43m 49s):
Absolutely. So last question. I asked everybody the same question. That’s the toughest one, next to, tell me
about yourself. What’s the most difficult conversation that you’ve had that you don’t have to get personal, or
you can just call it a type of conversation that you find the most challenging?
Holly O’Driscoll (44m 6s):
Yeah. You know, I think type of conversation is a really great way to put it because when I think about what
makes it challenging, I think it’s kind of wrapping up a lot of what we’ve talked about and the conversations
that are tough As are the ones that are not rooted in trust. So if you feel like you need to not tell the full story
or sugarcoat some things, one of the things I find is so important, you know, that the more experiences I
have and the older I get, the more intentional I want to be for setting the tone for my kids is this important
piece of congruence. And then when you talked about kind of walking the talk and having a stated way of
thinking and doing, and, you know, wanting to serve up to the world and bringing that to life are so important
and more important to me now than ever.
Holly O’Driscoll (44m 57s):
You know, you think about it. I have 45 And wow. You know, you get older, you get the more important that
congruence comes to be. And the toughest conversations are when the trust isn’t there. And when you think
about the absence of trust, that makes everything harder. Because I could say, you know, I talk about it often
as the spinach in the teeth test. So if you, and I didn’t know each other, and you know, I noticed that, you
know, your sitting in the cafeteria and I think, Oh my goodness, he’s got spinach in his teeth or is it okay for
me to approach you as a stranger and say, hold on, you’ve got spinach in your teeth, or are you going to be
mortified or embarrassed? Or how could she be and how rude that is. But you would tell your partner, you
would tell your child, you would tell your friend you’ve got spinach in your teeth.
Holly O’Driscoll (45m 41s):
They would say, thank you, thank, you know, you’re coming from a good place versus, you know, places
where you don’t have that trust established, they might say, huh, alright. That was really uncomfortable. And
that was weird. And what are they doing? Looking at my teeth anyway, it, all of these narratives that are not
helpful when it was coming from a place of help. And when you have an absence of trust is what makes that
Dr. Anthony Orsini (46m 5s):
That word comes up every week. Holly every week that we’re in, it comes up and I’m going to keep pounding
it home till everybody gets it. So
Holly O’Driscoll (46m 14s):
I think that’s really the biggest barrier to handling conversations, whether they are great conversations or
whether the really challenging conversations, because even the great ones are improved by trust. And that
don’t, you want to share great news with people that you feel a depth of connection and relationship with an
even more satisfying than it is for us as people to be able to share those great moments in addition to
navigating the challenges ones.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (46m 35s):
And I’ll finish it up by saying, and People trust people who are real people and not fake people. And so I
teach physicians and nurses how to build trust in less than a minute. And so you can be genuine, as I say,
be real, build the trust. Be humble. Boy, you taught us a lot of stuff today, Holly, this is awesome.
Holly O’Driscoll (46m 53s):
So fun. And boy, you are spot on that we could talk for hours because I am deeply committed to the belief
that this is something the world needs more of, you know, people often ask me, what’s next for design
thinking. You know, it’s been in business for awhile, and now it’s starting to show up in University education.
And in some schools as well, kinda K through 12, we want to say, wow, you know, I would like for this to be
the way that work gets done to the way that people live in to bring that congruence to life on, you know,
human centerness and curiosity and empathy and candor and trust, all of those are so important. And, you
know, arguably this might be something our country needs more than ever, right.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (47m 34s):
Definitely. And were filming. This is the day after the fact of the audience, the day of the election. And we
don’t know who the president is, but we need to communicate better. And I think, again, there’s so much
cross-reactivity here between health care or your personal life, your professional lives. And that’s why I’m,
I’m working with businesses. They’re saying what’s an ICU physician working with business leaders. But it’s
the same thing. If we can build that trust you, it doesn’t really matter. What is
Holly O’Driscoll (47m 59s):
Common humanity for sure.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (48m 1s):
You got it. This has been really a lot of fun. Holly finishing up real quickly. You know, a book coming along,
Holly O’Driscoll (48m 7s):
I’m working on it. My goodness,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (48m 9s):
It’s hard. I finished my in May.
Holly O’Driscoll (48m 12s):
It is right. I am trained to crank out corporate memos, no problems. And you know, translating a lot of that
into a book format is harder, but I’m writing about how do you really humanize leadership and bring these
concepts and ways of working to life in a way that they are not, I would love it to be a place when they are no
longer special where we can look around the organizations that we work in, that we connect with, that we
kind of contribute to our customers and patronize, how do we look around those organizations and say, wow,
you know this sense of human centeredness, this is the way, and that’s, what’s normal instead of a lot of
these stories that are often we get caught up in that we hear all the time that aren’t so positive.
Holly O’Driscoll (48m 52s):
So that’s my greatest wish
Dr. Anthony Orsini (48m 54s):
I can’t wait to read it. How would anybody get in touch with you? What’s the best way for them to get in touch
Holly O’Driscoll (48m 59s):
I know I would say LinkdIn is absolutely the best way I’m under Holly N O’Driscoll there is another Holly
O’Driscoll I came to know about. And so I had to add the middle initial into the mix, but on LinkedIn
absolutely is the best way. You know, people often ask me, Oh, do you have a website? And I’m like, well,
I’m working on it, but I got to tell you, I’ve managed to, you know, go on for a couple of years without it’s
going okay. And so LinkedIn really does seem to be the catchall for all of that. It looks like. So I have chosen
to really focus on making a difference for our clients and for projects versus building my website.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (49m 33s):
Well, we are going to put all of that in the show notes. So if your driving, you don’t need to remember it. We
are going to put all Holly’s links in to our show notes. If you enjoyed this podcast, please go ahead and hit
subscribe and tell your friends downloaded all the previous podcasts. If you want to hear more about the
Orsini Way in what we do, you can reach me through any LinkedIn, but also through my website, the Orsini
way.com. My email is dr. firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much. Holly I cannot wait for this to air and
thanks so much for coming on. This was just so much fun
Holly O’Driscoll (50m 6s):
And what a great way to spend some time this afternoon and super inspired. Yeah. We’ll have to figure out a
time where we can go on for a longer and continue to share stories. Cause I talked about Conversations is
making you feel taller or shorter. And this one certainly made me feel taller. So in a fight and to contribute.
Thanks so much for the invitation.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (50m 23s):
Thank you so much.
Announcer (50m 26s):
If you enjoyed this podcast please hit the subscribe and leave a comment. And to contact Dr. Orsini and his
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