Today we were given the unique opportunity of visiting Cerner Corporation a healthcare solutions company. The presentation of the CERNER Associates was designed to bedazzle the customer from the moment she walked into their building until she left. The company is noted for being one of the most innovative companies in the industry. Everything from the modern art work to the names of the conference rooms…titled Insight and Inspire…demonstrated a love of innovation. Even the bathrooms had high end fixtures, blue irredescent tiles, extra thick towels and scented soaps exuded “edge” – a quality the company finds to be important for their up and coming leaders.
The company prided itself on its unconventional attitude towards the creative process. A process which, was not without its challenges. How do they come up with creative ideas you ask? They describe the driving force for their creative ideas as coming from all levels of the company, but mostly from the worker bees. The mechanism they described which I liked the best was UCERN, a web site where any employee can post an idea so others in the company can comment. If enough people think that the idea is feasible, it can be presented to a V.P. for approval. If you come up with an idea at CERNER, be prepared to see it through to the end – you own your ideas! They don’t limit careers if ideas fail, at least not if you only fail some of the time – consistent failures could be “career limiting”. Also, if you like work-life balance, CERNER isn’t the place for you (even if it does include an onsite gym, daycare and healthcare center).
CERNER, like many of us, are struggling to retain employees and develop leaders. Other than a great orientation and basic training program, they really don’t have a comprehensive strategy for retaining those new employees (and CERNER hires 65% of their people straight out of college with 0-2 years of experience). They are also facing the possible retirement of their founders, and are struggling to define the core competencies of a leader at CERNER. They are also struggling to adequately measure managers performance in such an ambiguous and non-structured environment.
Our overall impression of this company is that it has a niche in an industry with high visibility and has a marketing strategy to die for. Cool presentations, impressive looking security, nice cafeteria and a great solution (if you can afford to buy the whole package).