the future of caring and the art of the possible: Accolade

Thursday, October 24, 2013

We spent most of the last two days at a company called Accolade—my husband/business partner taking photographs while I engaged in dialogue with one employee after another.

No, that isn't right. The word employee doesn't fit with a company like this, where family is the atmosphere and optimism is the mood. Employee doesn't begin to evoke or suggest the quality of conversations that go on inside that building, the intensity of the compassion, the basic joy that those who are building Accolade get from showing up each day. So much is broken in this world. So many people are left stranded. The landscape we've inherited can seem to be all pitched hills and dark valleys, slick rocks and broken trails, and then you step inside a company called Accolade, and you listen to people talk, and you think: There's a way out of some of the mess we're in. There are very smart people engaging with (and extending forward) a humane and proven plan. There are people (called Accolade Health Assistants) who pick up the phone and know what to say to those who are sick, those who are weary, those who do not know, from one day to the next, how they will pay for the care they need or the food that must be set down on their tables.

I've known Tom Spann, this company's leader, for many years. I wrote of him here, when he was again acknowledged as one of Philadelphia's most extraordinary executives. But it has only been during these past five months that I've had a chance to spend time at this company myself—collecting the stories, writing the narrative, being led toward a different idea of what the future of health care might be, which is to say (in Accolade lingo) the future of caring. Because health is a big thing and not a clutch of diagnoses and treatment plans. Health is about the way we live. A simple concept. A complex concept. The pulse of the purpose at Accolade.

I may write fiction in the dark hours of some mornings, and sometimes I teach and write the truth. But it is equally meaningful to step inside a company like Accolade and get caught up in the art of the possible.


Umair Khan said...

Hi Beth -- Thank you for this thoughtful post. Your words capture the culture at Accolade well! We are striving to build a caring culture, and I'm glad that you experienced it during your time with us.

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