The term, ‘left field’ is defined as:
1. The part of a baseball field which is beyond the infield and to your left if you stand on home plate and face the pitcher.
2. The defensive position in the outfield to the left.
3. An unexpected, bizarre, unwatched source, especially in the phrases ‘out of left field’ and ‘from left field.’ As in, “Some of her comments really came from left field.” or “I have no idea what he was thinking.”
4. An unusual or unexpected positioning, or a viewpoint held by very few others in contrast to the majority viewpoint, especially in the phrases ‘out in left field’ and ‘way out in left field.’
Left field, another great term from baseball, has melted into our language. It is just the kind of term we need in health care today. We need someone to step in to the discussion with ‘left field thinking’ … An unusual or unexpected positioning, or a viewpoint held by very few others in contrast to the majority viewpoint.
Several members of our team joined me for three days in Pittsburgh learning the use of ‘left field thinking.’ We were invited by Mr. Paul O’Neill with Value Capture and Dr. John Toussaint of Thedacare Center for Healthcare. They both challenged us as leaders to use ‘lean principles’ to create value for patients and transform our hospitals and health systems. We are currently applying some of what we learned to improvement work in our emergency rooms at McLeod’s four hospitals, as well as improving how we develop our people to enable them to continually improve for the patient.
I captured it on camera. In the picture below, you can see Marie Segars, Administrator of McLeod Regional Medical Center and Donna Isgett, Corporate Vice President of Quality, walking under the ‘left field sign’ of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball stadium. We couldn’t resist shouting that we always knew they were in ‘left field.’
Thanks for all you do, remember that change for improvement requires thoughtful, sometimes innovative, processes from a variety of vantage points, including left field.