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The amazing story of optimism and innovation stands in the center of Florence Italy. A story about an X-Prize winner who built a piece of architecture that stands 800 years later. What lessons can we take away from such amazing creativity and problem-solving?


Today in health, it, I'm going to tell you this story of the Florence Duomo and relate it to health. It, my name is bill Russell. And I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and create, or this week health, a set of channels dedicated to keeping health it staff current and engaged. We would have think our show sponsors who are investing in developing the next generation of health leaders, Gordian dynamics, Quill health tau site nuance, Cayman, medical, and current health. Check them out at this week.

All right. As some of, you know, if you're an avid listener, we went on vacation last week. I took my wife to Florence, Italy for our anniversary and to celebrate. A friend's retirement. And we had a friend who's a Delta pilot in his last flight. It was on June 3rd, which happens to be our anniversary. And he was flying from nice to.

, JFK on his last flight. And we got to be on that flight with them and celebrate. That milestone in his career. And that was exciting. What I'm going to talk to you about today is the Duomo of Florence and it is just an amazing. , piece of architecture. It's an amazing piece of art. I mean, it's just an unbelievable, , building. , I want to thank the people who encouraged me to share this stuff. As you know, on Fridays, on Fridays, I try to, you know, casual Fridays. Talk about things that are top of mind for me, not necessarily the new stories of health, it. And so this one is we went on a walking tour of the Duomo and the dwama was built in 12. Let's see, 1292.

Pull this up. Yeah. 1293 is when they started the Duomo. It's again, if the skyline. It's just so breathtaking taking, when you turn the corner of any of those narrow city streets, get this picture of Europe. The narrow streets, you turn the corner and then there's just this. Immense, , piece of, of architecture right in the middle. And it's beautiful. It's, it's ordinate, it's there's artists working on every aspect of it. You go inside and there's frescoes and paintings and.

You're talking about. A place where the, the Renaissance flourished where art flourished. And so we had some of the greatest artists and architects of the Renaissance period. , at, at that time, all coalescing in that place. So it was, it was pretty, pretty amazing.

, trip for us, but let me, let me focus in on the Duomo a little bit. So the Duomo in Florence took 142 years to build. And the idea was to build a grandkid thedral that, , that would rival the other grandkids, these rules in the world. And at that point they were thinking of building the grandkid thedral. Now we know this is one of five of the.

Cathedrals, you have to see in Europe, . So they had this, this idea for the building and then they were going to have this huge dome over at center.

But at the time, 1293, no technology existed to create a dome with such a wide base. All right. And they started building the cathedral anyway. But they left the final part of it exposed for years. While waiting for a good solution on how to fix the problem. All right. So I, when I hear these things, I realized that over history, they had to solve unsolvable problems. Like we are trying to solve today in healthcare and they left room for saying, Hey, we are going to innovate our way into a solution at some point. And they were optimistic. They were hopeful in the future. And they started doing the things they knew how to do today.

Knowing that in the future, they were going to be able to drop something in there that was going to finish it off. All right. So they started building it. And they left the final part exposed for years, waiting for a good solution. So then they do an X prize. It's amazing to me as you hear these things in history, you're like, oh my gosh, there's nothing new under the sun. It's amazing.

, so they do an x-ray. They do an architectural design competition and then winter would get the contract for building that whole, dome. And the winner was Felipo. Brunelleschi. At least that's how I'm going to pronounce it, but I'm pretty sure that's pretty close. , he came up with a revolutionary idea of building two domes, one on top of the other, using a special herringbone brick pattern and a horizontal stone chain.

In order to reduce the stress and allow , the way to be evenly distributed around the dome. Pretty ingenious. And as the story goes, Brunelleschi actually won the competition without showing any plans. He just used an egg, right. So he told the commission. That he would reveal his plans. If any of them could make an egg stand on the table.

After, none of them could do it. He smashed the egg into two parts. Put one half of the shell on top of the other. Causing the egg to stand upright. And the council and the other craftsmen protested that they could have done the same thing, but Brunelleschi responded. They could, if they knew what they knew.

And I love that creativity and that ingenuity and the reason that was so important. It was cause Brunelleschi had to invent no less than like 10 to 15 things in order to do the dumb. Not only was the dome design, amazingly creative, but he had to figure out how to build the thing. And in the process ended up creating another 10 to 15 inventions to do that.

And it's that kind of creativity that we need to find foster and encourage as we move forward, those people who are creative can see things a little different. And I think some of us can do that if we. Take the time, step back a little bit and look at these things. Okay. So a couple of other things about the dome.

One is, if you are, , What's the way to say this. If you're afraid of Heights. Not, not a great tour to go on. If you are a claustrophobic in any way, not a great tour to go on. , the stairs were designed really to take workers up and down. It wasn't designed for the general public think of a spiral staircase with 463 stairs in it.

And, 50 people in front of you and 40 people behind you and you can't get around any of them. So you have to go up those 400, some odd stairs, which in of itself is a pretty daunting. But when you get up to certain areas, you, , you're essentially in a single file line. And again, there's no way to go back. There's no way to go forward.

So there is kind of claustrophobic. And it amazes me only in another country. I could, can they get away with this? Because I can't imagine this, this kind of thing happening. In the us, but in order to really appreciate the whole structure, you have to do this thing. , and the reason is because

first of all, you get to go on top of the dome itself. And it's a view of Florence unlike any other. And, , the other thing is you get to go almost to the top near the frescoes on the inside. And so you're right up there with these frescoes, which are again, 400 some odd steps. Up there , in the sky. But as we were up there, one of the things that struck me, she's telling us this story and, you know, he built this thing with the herringbone design and whatever, and it was built in 13 something. I'm like, man, that's 800 years old. And so it dawns on me. I bet you, they came in and reinforced this thing. So I asked the tour guide, I'm like, do they come in and reinforce that with steel? Or did it ever fall down or did whatever? And she says, well, no, they, they updated the stairs on the inside a little bit. And they, , they put some railings in.

And they clean it every now and then. And I thought to myself, We're going to actually walk up in the thing that Brunelleschi built 800 years ago. And I, it just, it struck me as I wonder what I'm building today. That's going to last 800 years. And it's interesting. The last time I was with, , Judy Faulkner every now and then Judy and I run into each other and we have great conversations.

, and I asked her, you know, what what's top of mind, what are you thinking about these days? And she said, I'm thinking about what the next hundred years at epic looked like. And we were sort of struck by that thinking, oh, that is huge thinking a hundred years down the road, what Epic's going to look like. And it is huge thinking. I applaud that kind of thinking.

But gosh, 800 years. 800 years when he was building this, did he think I'm building something that's going to be there for 800 years? And my answer to that is I think he did. I'm wondering what we invest in today. This is part of my, so what is, what are we building state? It's going to last 800 years.

And as I asked myself that question, I think, man, there's probably a handful of things. You know, one is people. If we're investing in people. , the way that we know how, and we're encouraging them, we're giving them opportunities in their career and we're getting them training and development. And what not, you don't know what that's going to do from generation to generation, what that's doing at the dinner table and the opportunities that's creating for families.

I think that's one area. That, , that strikes me cause people last for generations. The second thing is the care in the community. I think of the stories of the sisters of St. Joseph and, , building. , actually digging the foundation by hand for the first hospital up there in Eureka, California.

And we have, just amazing, amazing dedication to that community and the care of that community. And I think, there's things that we are doing today around care. That is going to transform the lives of people in our community, transform our communities themselves. And so I think there are things that we can do.

, my other, so what on there says, I think about the optimism and the faith to start building the building, knowing that we don't have what we need to, to finish it. And I think there's a lot of areas in healthcare where we don't start a project because we don't see the whole. It's like, you know, how are we going to tie all this together and whatever, , at the end. And I think we need to have faith that.

There is a time when, , AI machine learning technology. Is going to come alongside clinicians and add a significant amount of value. Take the workload off of them. , create an experience for the patient that is as we say, monitor us at our health the same way we monitor our cars.

These are phrases that people throw out today, but I think they're possible. And it's that optimism and hope. That drives people to continue to innovate on top of things, to make that vision a reality. I think we have to be optimistic and hopeful. As we, , pursue those things moving forward.

And I think the other thing is I look at this is I'm reminded of the think different campaign. From apple or the think campaign from IBM, which actually came before the think different campaign. And, you know, I think we do have to encourage the, misfits, the square pegs in a round hole. If you remember the think different commercial.

And celebrating those people who think differently who have changed the world. And, Brunelleschi changed the world that. Dome still marks the skyline of Florence. And I get to enjoy 800 years after it was put. Up in the sky. , because he was given the opportunity. To try something to do something a little different, to think differently and to come up with a solution. And I think we need to encourage that kind of creativity as we move forward and find those kinds of people and give them opportunities.

To, , do amazing things. All right. Hope you enjoyed that. And I appreciate the people who encouraged me to share that story. , I wasn't going to, and I got on the phone this week with a couple of. , peers, some other CEO's and whatnot, and had conversations. And I was telling them the story and they're like, you should put that on the show. So there you go.

You can blame it on them. Plus I wanted to do it anyway. So blame it on me as well. That's all for today. If you know someone that might benefit from our channel, please forward them a note. They can subscribe on our website this week Or wherever you listen to podcasts, apple, Google, overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, you get the picture. We are everywhere. We want to thank our channel sponsors who are investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders.

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