Archives: Ignites

Human Connection Will Bring Us Together

Instead of worrying about fitting in, the answer to solving our disconnected world may be simply about creating true belonging. In this provocative interview, Brené Brown explains how we can forge deeper Connections to bring us together — and sometimes that means getting out of our comfort zone. “It’s a practice (true belonging) that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are.” Change happens when we Intentionally Connect with people who are different from us. As leaders we are better able to create our desired culture and Experience when people feel safe in Being vulnerable and sharing their differences.

Please also enjoy this On Being Podcast interview with Brené as she explores the concept of Connection and belonging as a universal truth.

The Art of Dialogue

Have you considered that sometimes we are talking at each other rather than with each other, and the outcome can be less than what we are aiming for? We’re just not Connecting. Design firm IDEO’s Fred Dust suggests that we need to step back and relearn the art of dialogue. It’s easy to see how technology and even TV, with its constant barrage of information (with little time to discuss or absorb), has helped exacerbate the situation. Dust proposes a unique way to foster discussion with his “Creative Tensions” group. In this format, people align themselves along a tension, for example “police make me feel safe,” and then move around the tension, holding discussions with people in different places. Much like many discussion concepts of the past such as Greek symposiums or Jeffersonian Dinners, the format results in a slowed down debate that allows both ends of the spectrum to emerge and be heard.

According to Dust, people are most open to discussion when coming out of a crisis, which is something we deal with daily in health care. How are we creating space to make Connections and have meaningful conversations as people emerge from crisis? How might we reimagine our dialogue structures to get back to really listening to each other?

Can We Be Candid?

It takes more than one person to be candid. Candor, or the quality of being open and direct, has the potential to be received as either feedback or criticism. The difference between the two lies in the agreement made amongst the participants. In order for candidness to be an effective form of Connective communication, both the receiving and giving party must be in agreement. What does this LOOK like? How does it feel? Establish if the entire party believes that the benefits of candor outweigh the costs. It must also be a two-way street with everyone in the discussion; everyone must be willing to not only give candid responses but also be willing to receive them.  

Are we candid with one another in our organizations? Is there an appreciation for collective candor within and across departments? Why or why not? Can we be both candid and kind? What good could be gained from establishing mutually agreed upon candor as an accepted form of Connection within our organizations?

Ready for Feedback?

To give feedback that will help a colleague grow, it is vital to first establish deep trust. Executive Coach Monique Valcour knows this well after years of coaching and skill building with some of the top leaders at the United Nations. Valcour attributes three qualities to giving feedback that is not just heard but also learned from, and all three qualities stem from the power of Connection. First, the feedback must come from a place of positive Intention with the desire for the recipient of the feedback to grow. This can be accomplished by first Connecting with yourself — perhaps practicing a short meditation. Second, it’s important for the giver of feedback to remain open as the receiver reacts, maintaining a trusting, deep Connection as they reflect and respond to the feedback. Third, and perhaps most importantly, invite the recipient of your feedback to be a Connected and integral part of the solution process by asking questions like “What ideas do you have resulting from this conversation?”

Think back to the most meaningful feedback someone gifted you. What made that feedback actionable? How did the giver of feedback work to build a Connection? How can we replicate the elements of feedback that worked well as we aim to build the next generation of leaders in health care?

Tea for Two (Or Three, Or Four)

In our Year 1 Connection Action Kit (February 2018), you received an unconventional, albeit delicious, tool to enhance Connection in your organization: a tea set with the simple prompt: Whose cup can you fill?

Across the year we heard extraordinary Stories of the courageous and meaningful one-on-one conversations over tea. Allow this to be your gentle reminder to take time to Connect with someone who you’ve been wanting to know better, someone you’ve been wanting to coach or mentor, or someone you’ve had an opposing position or vantage from. Here are some new prompts to spark a fresh conversation: What makes you most proud to work for your organization?  What personal Experience as a patient or caregiver has influenced your work for the better? What do you LOVE most about what you do?

10 Ways to Have A Better Conversation

Radio host Celeste Headlee shares this witty, engaging talk on 10 useful rules for having better conversations. A good conversation requires balance between talking and listening, and somewhere along the way, it seems we’ve lost that balance. Headlee takes us beyond the predictable, “LOOK them in the eye and nod your head.” From “be present” to “be prepared to be amazed,” her wise words keep us engaged and, most importantly, listening.

Agent of Connection

Connections are out there to be made every day. The trick is choosing to make them. This BART station agent, William Cromartie, shows us how to come out of the box and meet people where they are. Watch as he opens his heart, inspires others, and makes the ride a lot better for hundreds of people each day.  

In the Spotlight: Lesley Wilson on Connection

Associate Chief Experience Officer at UC San Diego Health

What does the principle of Connection mean to you and your organization?

Lesley Wilson (LW): Connecting is one of our four foundational Experience Intentions at UC San Diego Health. We use the notion of Connecting as ‘Being a bridge’ in our theme and declaration. When we explain and explore this concept with our teams, it’s not only about human Connections with one another, but it’s also about how we show up and Connect with our patients and guests as well as Connecting to the purpose of the work we are doing. And it always includes empathy and hospitality throughout. Hospitality lives in Connecting.

How do you apply the principle?

LW: We create actionable and tangible ways to bring Connecting to life throughout our organization.  From finding new ways to Connect during rounding, to revisiting our communication framework, to exploring how to best Connect through our email communications we seek to create bridges. We also focus on “Big E Experience” – everyone’s Experience matters – and we have created Joy Events within our Connecting Intention that encourage our team members to interact with one another in thoughtful creative ways.    

We have also created a forum for monthly Experience leadership sessions where we invite leaders to come together in person, despite all the latest technologies available, because we are committed to the human interaction. We value seeing each other and having face-to-face conversations. We focus on topics such as hospitality, partnership, and fostering trust – and we practice techniques like the improv tool ‘Yes, And…’ all with the aim to create a shared understanding. Because once we have a shared understanding, we can bridge to what’s possible.

What advice do you have for other Lab Partners?

LW: We are still so early in this journey. I think we are very often eager for the next tools or tactics, and yet what we really need is teaching, sharing and discovering WHY this work is so important. You can ask someone to be a Connector but it has to tap into a deep human level, that raw emotion and feeling, to make a Connection. Rather than train, let’s aim to inspire people to want to make that Connection – to want to LOOK up and smile – and take the opportunity to be the bridge for others.

Spotify Connection Playlist

We are adding to our compendium of music with this Connection playlist. Enjoy! Listen here.

Principle: Intention

Your Intention is what you are aiming for – your North Star. It serves as an important decision filter for how you and your organization will move forward and informs the big picture and the little details. Setting an Intention is at the heart of LEADING a cohesive, connected, and orchestrated Experience for all.


When we begin by setting clear Intention, we can make a remarkable shift in how we approach our goals, our actions, and even our day-to-day interactions. When we know what we are aiming for, we know where to place our attention. That clarity helps us know what fits and what doesn’t – and sparks clear possibilities without getting lost in a sea of thought. When our team members, providers, patients, and guests understand the why behind decisions or changes being made — not just the what or the how — the result is also a more purposeful, personal, and cohesive Experience.

Perhaps said best by our friends at Holstee, “Our thoughts lead to action. Our actions create our Experiences. Our Experiences define our character. In each Moment, we define who we’ll become. Start this one with Intention.”

How it fits into LEADING

As we consider our work as leaders, Intention sets the tone and serves as our design tool and decision filter. It is about lighting the way and sharing the light with others in a connected, purposeful manner that can help turn goals into reality.

Intentions are not just the common threads that connect all of our people; they are also the threads that weave our hearts and minds into the work. When we set our North Star, it can be felt throughout all that we say and do.