September 14, 2022: With so many enterprise solutions on the market, how do you even begin to pull the teams together to drive a robust world class solution to lock down your healthcare environment? That’s where hiring a Project Management company comes in. Jeremy Ognall, Founder of Gordian sits down for a fireside chat today with Bill to discuss delivering complex security projects to protect your health system. Whether it’s crisis management, agile project management or putting together teams to solve complex problems, Gordian knows how to protect your health system’s assets. During this episode we ponder: How do you integrate into a team and really understand how they operate as a system? What makes a successful project?
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Today on This Week Health.
We are in the people business we are dealing with technology. And the technology has to be successful, but if we don't get the people part and the relationship part down, right, we will fail. You can have the best technologies in the world, but you will fail if you don't have the right people.
Welcome to a solution showcase today. I have the privilege of talking to Jeremy Ognall, who is the founder of Gordian Dynamics, which is a project management firm that focuses in on healthcare security project implementation. And one of the reasons it's my pleasure is because when I was CIO I utilized Jeremy's services as company services, Gordian.
For a lot of our projects and he was a great partner with me. So we're probably gonna have a lot of fun, reminiscing, a little bit, and talking about rugby and how rugby applies to the security paradigm and thanks to that effect. So this is gonna be a fun one and I hope you enjoy. My name is bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week health, a channel dedicated to keeping health it staff current and engaged. You can subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts, apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, overcast, you name it. We are there. So you can find us there. Or you can go to our website this week, health.com and subscribe there as well. And now onto our 📍 conversation.
All right. Today we have a solution showcase and we are meeting with the founder of Gordian. Jeremy IEL Jeremy, welcome to the show.
Thanks having me on.
I'm looking forward to this. We're doing a fireside chat as. Look at that it,
as you can't really tell, but I think it needs a little more prompt, little more simple. It is on.
It is on we are actually at one of the 2 29 events. We're gonna have a conversation today that I'm really looking forward to we go way back when I CIO at St. Joe's Gorian did an awful lot of work for me at St. Joe's and we were just talking about it. It's hard to describe, I mean, you did a lot of different things and so people would say what does Gordian. and really what you did for us was you specialized in putting together teams to solve really complex problems for us.
Yeah. I'd say that. That's true. A lot of it was driven by you and your writing board craziness. The number of times I
throw a problem up the words say, jeremy, can you do anything for this?
Well, and yeah, it wasn't even that I'd be walking by your office and you'd be like, I'm no, get in here. And then you'd walk me through the riding board, but you know, there's some really good stuff there. So yeah, I, I think we, in most cases we built custom teams to solve the problems, as you said.
So what kind of work does Gordon do now?
Well, most of our work at the moment is focused around cybersecurity. Really within emphasis on agile project management within the security space. So all enterprise health, it cybersecurity.
So why wouldn't I just throw a project manager?
Well, that's a good question. Firstly, getting the right project manager in the cyber space is, is not always easy. There's a lot of people who have the project management designation and qualifications, but aren't necessarily adept to running an enterprise level project. There are some who are, but I could tell you a lot of the enterprise health systems that we do business with, many of them have their own PMOs and they still come to us for our people, for our teams, for our leadership.
So is that specialization on healthcare and technology.
Healthcare technology, cybersecurity. We do other projects as well. Cyber is probably the gamut of our work right now, which is understandable. If you look at the challenge that CIOs and CSOs are facing, that's either one or two with staffing.
the thing I will say is the thing I've always really appreciated about you is your coaching. So you were coming up on the season. You're a rugby coach. Tell us a little bit about your rugby background.
it's definitely part of my fabric grew up playing the game in England, played all the way through college, moved to Southern California, played there once the body failed me total hip replacement, et cetera.
It was time to put away childish things and focus on becoming the best coach I could. So I've been coaching rugby for about 20 something years now, but really ardently for about 15 years and had a lot of success. I'm currently coaching at Claremont McKenna college up in Los Angeles and having a lot of fun with it.
A lot of fun. I used to love those stories of coaching those teams, because you guys, you guys don't necessarily go out and recruit and bring in the top rugby players. A lot of times you're just Hey, does anybody wanna play rugby? They come in and you coach some pretty successful.
Yeah. Molding's probably the right term, right? We get these young men coming in and we mold them into rugby players. And again, a lot of it is rugby's the sport, rugby's the conduit, but the reality is it's to try and make them better men off the pitch. It's not just all about the white lines, but yeah, we've had a lot of success.
I mean, luckily we do get to do some recruiting. Now I've got a few recruits this season, which I'm very, very excited about, but mostly it's molding and trying to team together into a high performance environment.
As you were building gordian out and delivering those services. Did the coach come out at all?
Oh, it comes out all the time. I think some people wish it didn't, but I'm always coaching. I coach my kids in daily life, not just in sports probably more of an eye parent, but yeah, it's really, as I say, it's really part of my fabric and I couldn't do what I do if I wasn't an effective.
all right. Cybersecurity projects. what are we looking at here? I mean, the complexity of these projects is increasing every day. So what kind of projects are we talking about?
Well, we're talking everything across the the continuum of cyber security. It's really about how do we work with our healthcare clients to try and prevent any intrusions. So it could be collaborating with them on red team exercises. Get them to prevent intrusions. Obviously red team is nice ethical hacking, I guess. So working on those and then working on any of the remediation that needs to be done as a result of that and a lot of it, and I think this is where the coaching comes into is a lot of it is working with all of the different technology vendors CrowdStrike, Palo Alto, Tanium Proofpoint naming it was so many solutions, Microsoft.
With so many solutions that these enterprise customers have and it's how do we pull all the teams together from the various vendors to drive to a, robust world class solution to lock down their environment.
I was gonna ask you about reference clients and that kind of stuff, but I'm actually one of your reference plans. Yeah. If I, if I think about, I think of that anytime. No, I mean, it really is interesting. back in the day, I really relied heavily on you for building out those teams, those professional teams and whatnot. And a lot of times you're hiring younger people. Mm-hmm . And so your coaching really did, did come into play, but I remember we threw things that you like, like our our one pass system, our easy pass, easy pass the tap in, tap out, move.
I remember we gave you that project and the the goals were pretty aggressive around that. It's like tap in, tap out first log in less than a minute. Each subsequent login less than was I did I say less than 10 seconds.
I think 10 seconds was your final goal. Yes.
And it was less than 10 seconds going. Right.
And, three images all lasts across the end prize.
Well, that was a different project, but yeah, we, I, I did come back to you at one point and say, we have way too many images. We had to get those images down. I. at one point, cuz you were doing so much stuff over there and handling those projects. So well remember looking at you saying, Hey, our Citrix environment is not that good and I'd love for you guys to come in and really put your arms around the Citrix environment as well. Yeah. Do you still sort of, I mean, do you still drive that kind of relationship of dialogue with the CIO or dialogue with the VP of infrastructure and operations and say where, where are your challenges we can build. For it.
Yeah, absolutely. Where we can. I think it's interesting because I don't think a lot of CIOs are necessarily as trusting as you were. I think you came into I think one of the things that made us helped us be successful. There is we were very much in crisis management mode. You were in crisis management mode and you knew that you needed some help and you have very quick to recognize it.
And I think in a lot of cases, it's hard to recognize that early on and say, I'm gonna bring this guy and his team in and hand over some of the keys of the. But yeah, when we get to have healthy conversation with CIOs, I think they see our capabilities across the spectrum, whether it's cybersecurity, agile, project management, the Microsoft stack.
Well there's a method to my mad, right? So you got the first 90 day project. Mm-hmm you hit on that? We talked about that before then. The easy pass project. It's not like I gave you all 16 hospitals and the way you go it. First of all you had to, you had to win over the docks.
Mm-hmm so you guys did a, did a good round Robin around a lot of our hospitals went over the docks before we even started to roll that project out. But I mean, once the docs saw it was hard to keep them from they, they were clamoring for it after they saw what it was. Cause they used to have to go go up to every machine type in their password. Not only for one. Multiple.
Or even handwritten notes. And actually, I think in somebody's more, the doctors for us really started with a lot of the nurses, the nurse practitioners, getting them to buy into the vision of what in this case you were trying to accomplish. And that we were helping enable.
And once we get them to understand it and they became the power users and then they had a lot of cases would train the doctor and educate the doctor on why this was a value for him, cuz they listened to their nurses and PAs far more, but they listened to our team. Collectively, we got them across the finish line.
So are you generally brought in when a project is failing or at the beginning of a, a Greenfield project or is just all,
I think it's, it's across the board. I think one of the things that really does help set us apart is we are very good at. I have to use the right nomenclature. I was gonna say, we're very good at failing projects. very good at we're not that correct. We're not good at making projects fail. We're good that the projects that are failing and coming in because again, it's a different challenge. Greenfield is great. And if you are part of it early on and you engage with the architect team and everything that really helps.
But sometimes I like the challenge of a CIO or a, CISO's got a failing project. He's got a lot of investment in technology. Maybe they've had a breach or they're on the pre of a breach and they say, we need your help. And those are fun. They're challenging. They keep up at night. But.
One of the words you threw in there early on was agile. agile project management, as opposed to waterfall. Why is that a distinctive of what Gordian does?
Well, I think first I'd say a lot of the projects we end up doing are what I'll call a hybrid. it's a buzzword to say it's agile and, it is the scrum methodology and combines and everything else.
So I think the ability to truly be agile to have the daily cadences the Kanban see what's going on course. Correct. As you need be. But I still think on some of these large enterprise ones, there's, definitely elements of waterfall. So for us, as we look to hire people and bring them on board, we really like people who can operate in both the waterfall and the agile world, because I think you need.
Yeah. A lot of, a lot of health systems I know have moved to agile. And one of the reasons they did was we went through the pandemic and the whole organiz, the whole organization went into agile. Yeah. Like almost overnight because that's, the best methodology for a crisis response. Yeah. Is agile. But I think what they've learned over time is, Hey, this was really good from a communication standpoint, from a. prioritization standpoint, from a effectiveness, getting things done mm-hmm standpoint as well.
Yeah, no, I think it is. And I think in a lot of cases, because these are such big projects, it tends to start with a waterfall approach in the sense that you are looking out one to two to, in some cases, three years of the overall life cycle of the project. So you start at waterfall and then you break it down into manageable chunks of agile. And that's how we run them.
What leads to successful projects my follow on. Question's gonna be what leads to projects that fail, what leads to successful projects to start?
The biggest thing for me is the people I think the people, obviously not just from our team, I'm talking about the whole team that the collective.
So the ability for any third party company like ours, the technology providers as I say, the Microsoft's the Crowdstrikes And then your internal teams for us to be able to mesh and agree on that common goal. And then set aside any differences or work through those differences, maybe some healthy contentions.
Good occasionally. But I think getting those people to buy into the vision and work together collaboratively on a daily basis is, is critical. And then the other thing is remembering the vision and the business case it was sold on. I find a lot of. times I talk to a lot of healthcare systems where I say share your business case and your ROI with us, that it was sold on because ideally we should be able to try and present that at the end to show back to the board or whoever funded it, that it was actually successful.
So multiple elements, but people working together in a high performance environment to me is key
Failed projects. What, characteristics do you find in, in failed projects
Lack of sponsorship is huge. If we don't have the CIO or whoever, the executive sponsorship,
this really goes back to the business case, right? If the business case is solid and it's been sold at whatever level is sold at generally, it's going to be prioritized and funded and away you go. But if it's like I don't know if it's like dark money, if you will, if it's like Hey, we're funding this shadow, it shadow IT and A lot of times those projects they'll get going and they just sort of die on the bind because it, it didn't go through the proper channels did not get the proper funding and those kind of things. And so it just, everything starts to break down pretty rapidly.
I think that's the initial breakdown. I think the other side of it is I talked about engagement with the sponsor, so it's great that you can come up with a business case, fund it and say, okay, German team. go But we wanna stay engaged with you throughout the process because it's not gonna be perfect.
There are absolutely gonna be bumps in the road and an old mentor of mine, I guess in the business years ago, I heard him say, you know that in it we're firefighter by day arsonist by night. Yeah. And I think it's important that in this case, you, as the CIO understood that, that there are gonna be things that happened that are gonna set us.
back But as long as we have a mitigation plan and are willing to get our teeth into resolving it you'll bear with us. The CIOs who are more hands off who aren't privy to all the inner work things of the project. I think it, it makes for a tough ask. It really does.
It's amazing. The toughest project you've ever worked on
toughest project. Well, I was gonna say it was the 90 day project that your team that you inherited had teed up, that just was really gonna be two years. So that, that was, that was an epic fail. That sounds like my team. it. Wasn't done in that. It wasn't done in 90 days. I think the toughest project we ever,
because we, we talked about that project. There's no way that project would've done 90 days.
No, we're stripping dates off the calendar, our we down to day six. So what we. No, we haven't even had the kickoff meeting. I think the biggest one was probably easy pass at St. Joe's with putting Meditech out there across your 16 hospitals and then obviously in the, in the medical centers as well because it was just such a fragile environment and it was so new and it was very political at times. We had a lot of late sleepless nights. You and I had a. Meetings late in crappy restaurants where you were whiteboarding how we could improve or napkin how we could.
I was gonna say, I didn't carry the whiteboard with you.
It was a napkin. But I think, I think that was the most challenging, but it was also the most rewarding. So because when you get to the end and you see the reaction of the physicians and the clinicians, you're like, it was.
How do you integrate because you, you became a, an integral part of the team. how do you integrate every health? System's a little different, their communication structure, the way they, they approach projects, the culture, the politics and we don't like to say the word, but anywhere there's people there's politics. Sure. So how do you integrate into a team and really understand how they operate as a system?
Well, I think you've gotta ask a lot of. I mean, you can't just accept because you've got a mandate from the CIO that everyone's gonna be, oh, welcome.
Often it's the reverse actually they view that perhaps you're a threat to their job. So you have to go in and show your character, show your value system, show your knowledge, and you really indicate to them that you're there to work in partnership with them in collaboration.
You're not here to take their job. You're actually here to help them be more successful and that they'll get. recognised By engaging in a successful project, but there's a lot of nuances. A lot of people think it's black and white, but as you said, we're dealing with people. There are so many shades of gray. And as I say, I think one of the things that I bring in that we bring is shades of gray, not 50, but shades of gray. Yeah. Are what we do.
Yeah. There's an awful lot of nuance associated with. are you still coaching? You're ma'am you're still an active coach for an active coach. Yes. Wow. How does the team look this year?
I'll find out next week. We actually get into some presents season stuff this weekend, but I'm here with you at this conference, thankfully, but we started in earnest next week and we'll see you.
I, I feel really good about it. It's hard C's affected a lot of people in a lot of ways and it's been an. Tragic in this world. For me on a micro level just the loss of nearly about two plus seasons for these young men, many who graduated didn't even have graduation.
Ceremonies is really tough. So I've got a responsibility to make this season extra special for those, especially those seniors who are gonna see it out.
Yeah. And it's, it is tough because you get 'em as freshman, you get 'em. They're they're so green and you're teaching them. Yeah. And then their sophomore year, they're starting to come into their own and they're looking forward to their junior and senior year. And for some of them, you just, you skip the whole season.
Sure. And it's the same in the professional world, too. Right? You bring on some, like you said, sometimes we've had a little younger and more junior people with the idea of growing them and developing them and then things happen and that's happened in the COVID professionally and in the rugby world. And we've just gotta be able to again, be agile and think on our feet and come up with some different approaches. So I just have to accelerate the learnings for the team so that we're effective this season. And I'm expecting nothing less than success.
What's the problem you solve? Like, what's the, if I ask you for the one sentence that people go, that's the problem they solve. I need to talk to Corian. What's what is the one? .
Yeah, I think our biggest problem solving ability is delivering complex projects. We are just so adept at what we do. We bring the right skill sets to bear. We mold teams, we integrate teams. We view, we understand the complexity. We understand the challenges we understand, especially in healthcare there's a patient at the end of everything that happens from a technology standpoint. So we need to get it. So I think it it's that understanding. And I say, it's our values.
I mean, we carry ourselves a lot of people who talk values and have values on their wall and then you interact with them and it's like, whoa, that doesn't quite resonate. We've been through a few of those, but I think living to our values and our culture is absolutely key. And we don't shy any way from any challenge.
I mean, when you threw some challenges at us, it was a little intimidating, but once we got our teeth into it, it was very success.
So, how do people find out more about Gordon?
I just want to talk to them. I'll give you my cell phone, the way you have my cell phone now you can share my cell phone and back for me, it's, it's almost like conversations like this. It's not trying to sell something.
That's what I loved about you. I mean, it was from the first time we sat down, it was tell me what you do. And it's like, you wouldn't answer the question you were just looking to. I, I solve problems. Mm-hmm what kind of problems do you have? And I'm like, I start then I'm like, all right, I'll play your game.
I'll start talking about some of my problems. And I started talking about some of my problems and you're like, all right. So, and you'd asked some really good questions and then, and then we started to launch into here's some of the things I could do for you. And I was like, okay, interesting. Yeah, I wasn't, I didn't give you the keys to the kingdom, like the first project.
No, you did not. no, I did that, but, but it's funny that you say that because I think that's the biggest. We are in the people business we are dealing with technology. Technology is that medium. And the technology has to be successful, but if we don't get the people part and the relationship part down, right, we will fail.
You can have the best technologies in the world, but you will fail if you don't have the right people and you don't have trust and you gave us a, an opening, I'll put it that way and we blew the bloody doors off it. And then you gave us more and. And so again, for me, it's just a conversation. If I can sit down with the CIO, here's what we do.
Here's what we're good at. No, we don't do that. No, we're not the EMR experts by any stretch, but here's our core sweet spot for us. If they'll listen to that, then I think we can be jointly successful.
Yeah. I think the last thing I'll mention, and I appreciate it. I hope you're not doing this anymore, but there was a lot of times I found you on site doing stuff and he's like, your team was there. So. And I guess that's part of the coaching you to, say Hey this is worth doing. And.
I'm very hands on in a lot of what I do. And I think there's a fine line between being sort of a micromanager and being hang HandsOn. So I want to give people enough rope to be successful, but I want to be there for them as, as they run into challenges and things they haven't experienced before and be able to run something by me.
I love being engaged. When we get opportunities we don't close the deal and then walk away. I mean, we live, eat and breathe it. we did it with you for years and did a lot of living, eating, and breathing and not enough sleeping,
but we got a lot of stuff done. Jeremy, thank you for your time.
My pleasure. Thanks for having me here in this beautiful location. I wish you luck with the 2 29 for sure.
I love sitting down with Jeremy and hearing all the things that Gordian is doing today and just reminiscing about some of the things Gordian has done. With me in the past, plus I just love the rugby stories as well. They really tie everything together. I know I always enjoy those conversations and learn stuff when I sit down with Jeremy, I hope you benefited as well. I wanna thank Gordian for this episode and 📍 investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. Thanks for listening. That's all for now.