John O'Connor illustration
McKnight’s Editorial Director John O’Connor
John O'Connor
John O’Connor

Last week’s National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care Spring Conference in Dallas offered more than its share of intellectual, social and culinary delights.

There certainly was no shortage of good conversation, learning opportunities or tasty morsels at the ready. Frankly, the challenge for many attendees was too much to do in too little time.

From my perspective, two dominant themes stood out. One was data. The need to harness data increasingly is recognized as essential for future success. Following closely behind, the resounding message was that growth is not merely beneficial but downright crucial.

While Henry David Thoreau may have thrived in solitude, the same can’t be said for most senior living organizations. Mom-and-pop operators relying on a one-trick-pony approach may find it progressively challenging to compete. Many undoubtedly will face unprecedented pressure, either necessitating alignment with larger entities or selling the business.

Can’t argue with either point. But what I really didn’t hear much about during the various discussions was the need to remain committed to business fundamentals. Yet they remain as fundamental to growth now as they did when Peter Drucker repeatedly was reminding business leaders of their importance.

For those unfamiliar with Drucker’s timeless wisdom, he laid out foundational principles that should guide any successful business. Here are three of his greatest hits:

  • Be mission driven: When employees’ efforts align with the organization’s mission, both flourish.
  • Be effective, not just efficient: Efficiency is doing things right, but effectiveness is doing the right things. Checklists hold little value if they merely expedite busywork without meaningful impact.
  • Prioritize opportunities over problems: While staffing challenges persist, new solutions will undoubtedly emerge to meet the evolving needs of our aging population. Focusing on innovative approaches fosters growth and boosts overall morale.

As operators continue to pursue the next big thing, various innovations will rise and fall. Long after they have all run their course, Drucker’s fundamental advice will remain as fresh as ever.

John O’Connor is editorial director for McKnight’s Senior Living and its sister media brands, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, which focuses on skilled nursing, and McKnight’s Home Care. Read more of his columns here.