Science in the Wild Radio Show and Podcast with Hosts Gary Riccio and Nathan Roman

Developing people and organizations: A new idea in healthcare

Developing people and organizations: A new idea in healthcare


darwin 01In this episode, Gary and Nathan talk with Morgan Darwin, CEO of A&K Global Health (AKGH), a trans-national health care management firm that is promoting “a new idea in healthcare.” AKGH is working in partnership with developing countries that are successfully striving to develop their infrastructure, most notably in healthcare. They currently are operating in ten countries around the world, mostly in East Africa and the Middle East. They are helping people and working with various organizations in these countries to find local and international solutions to their healthcare challenges. For example, they currently have 23 children from Iraq receiving bone marrow transplants in India.

Morgan described his pivot from helping the U.S. Army with leader development and training to trans-national health care management. The connection is relationship building in a diverse community, fostering more adaptable manifestations of authority, and helping organizations adapt to changing context and objectives. The genesis of his innovative work with the military prior to 2011 was the shift in mission from combat to humanitarian and civil operations. Different preparation and a different mindset was required to address the fact that a Soldier could be involved in all three types of operation, even within the same day.  To meet this demand, Morgan and his colleagues developed and promulgated an approach to leader development, training, and education for adaptive thinking and action based on developing intangible attributes such as confidence, initiative, and accountability.

The work of Morgan and his colleagues helped change the discussion points and priorities in various military organizations involved in leader development, (field) training, and (classroom) education. Conversations increasingly addressed issues, such as relationships and interpersonal influence, that had been considered to be abstract, fuzzy, or soft in the context of the serious undertakings of the military or that was assumed to be understood by “good” leaders.  Established military leaders, most notably Morgan Darwin, teamed with a variety of scientists in a broad program of research and application to examine such assumptions and translate them into activities and impact of a service system that could be verified and validated.

Morgan emphasized that science can help organizational leaders to understand their requirements and the indicators of whether activities inside the organization are consistent with the broader objectives of the organization. Scientists serve a much more important role than what most science consumers expect inside or outside the military. They can provide more than answers, facts, or data. Science more essentially is about collaborative inquiry within a community, and it is more valuable in this respect.

Morgan’s collaborative inquiry with scientists in training, education, and leader development has influenced his business strategy and talent development as CEO of A&K Global Health. He emphasizes that “the sum total of micro-experiences has more impact than a course on cultural awareness” in preparing colleagues for change and for historically unfamiliar opportunities. He indicates that meaning and sense making are important when living inside a culture, whether organizational or societal. Just as in his work with the military, he finds that relatively mundane everyday interactions, outside a script, can have significant impact on a consumer’s experience during their journey through an engagement with a service provider.

The conversation with Morgan concluded by reemphasizing the importance of growing beyond the habits, practices, and traditions that led to success in the past. The world is becoming smaller, and this is bringing fundamentally different kinds of opportunities to many consumers, especially with respect to health care in rapidly developing parts of the world. Organizations must adapt to changing expectations of consumers. This requires a different kind of awareness, a different kind of action, and a different kind of leadership.

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Key Words and Concepts

  • relationship building in a diverse community
  • confidence, initiative, and accountability
  • micro-experiences
  • meaning and sense making
  • interpersonal influence
  • customer journey
  • awareness
  • leadership