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Molina Health Care

Walk into the corporate offices of Molina Health Care in Long Beach, Calif., and you might think you've stumbled onto a huge sports field. There are scorecards and scoreboards everywhere.

"Look around our offices and you'll see people keeping score all over the place," says Dr. Mario Molina, CEO of the multi-state HMO with a specialty in Medicare and Medical. "You'll see scorecards on office doors, in cubicles, in the hallways."

And just what are these scorecards keeping score of?

"Everything that's important," says Dr. Molina.

The impetus for this plethora of scorecards comes from The Game of Work scorekeeping system, implemented at Molina Health Care by Chuck Coonradt in early 1998. In the months and years since, virtually all of the company's managerial staff has been introduced to the system's concepts and, as Dr. Molina says, "Throughout the company, the change has been significant. Productivity has improved tremendously, as well as morale."

While the results have been dramatic, the training has not proved difficult or unwelcome for the staff. On the contrary. The concepts are straightforward, uncomplicated and easy to understand. "The first thing I tell our people at Game of Work presentations is that this is not rocket science,'" says Dr. Molina, who introduced The Game of Work to the company not long after he took over as CEO.

"What Chuck Coonradt and The Game of Work have done is taken common sense and packaged it in a way for people to apply it to their lives."

"Essentially, what it says is that you measure things that are important and when you look at that measurement, you're in a positive place to improve on it."

Leave it to a doctor to succinctly diagnose and define The Game of Work philosophy.

"He's absolutely right," agrees Chuck Coonradt, who founded his consulting company, The Game of Work, in 1974 and has helped hundreds of companies improve their productivity and morale in the years since. "The concepts we teach are not complicated, they're not difficult to understand or relate to. Our purpose is simply to point out to people that they are there and they work."

As Coonradt has told companies and organizations around the globe, they are the same concepts everyone uses when they are at play.

Golf, tennis, baseball, football, swimming, running, checkers. Name the game, and you'll find a scorecard or scoreboard close by. It comes with the territory. When people play games, they keep score. And when they look at that score they know how they're doing - whether they're winning or losing. If they're winning, fine; if they're losing, they need to adjust.

When you're at "work," it's possible to do the same thing. That's The Game of Work message. Thus work, too, can become a game.

That is what has happened at Molina Health Care.

"Absolutely, work is like a game to us," says Dr. Molina. "People want to see how much they can keep pushing, how much they can improve. They like to look where they were a month ago and see how much progress they've made. To use a golf analogy, they want to get their "handicap" down. They want to improve on their performance. And the great part, as I see it, is it's not just a matter of 'How much am I getting paid?' but 'How fulfilling is my job to me personally?'"

One area that has seen dramatic results through new and improved scorekeeping is claims inventory. When Game of Work scorecards designed to better track the efficient payment of claims were first introduced, Molina had an inventory of over 40,000 claims waiting to be paid. Within a year and a half of utilizing the new scorekeeping system, that number dropped to less than 7,000.

"The turnaround on claims improved tremendously," says Dr. Molina, "because the people paying claims became motivated by something tangible. Now they know how many claims they're currently paying per day, because they keep score, and they also know what their goals are; and if they keep working at it, they know they'll reach them."

Through scorekeeping, Molina Health Care has also dramatically improved its tracking of well-child immunizations, a significant development that not only keeps insurance costs down but improves the overall health of Molina's clientele.

"It's a lot like teaching a horse to jump," says Dr. Molina. "You don't expect them to jump over the highest bar the very first time. You just keep raising the bar, a little at a time. People love the challenge and they love to play the game."

While increasing productivity and employee morale, The Game of Work has become an integral part of Molina Health Care's corporate cultural, to the point that all senior and mid-level managers coming into the company enroll in special Game of Work sessions.

"We want everyone to be familiar with the terminology and the concepts," says Dr. Molina. "Then we turn them loose. You won't find a politburo type atmosphere here. It's the unwritten rules that we live by. Basically what you do is you make work a game and things work out from there."

"When we first got acquainted, the purpose was to create a culture of accomplishment and to gain operating proficiencies," remembers Coonradt. "The executive team was functioning but was not aligned. There were some problems with turf protecting and a great deal of activity was going on not directed toward the bottom line. The results were predictable. The company had actually lost money in two of the previous four quarters."

By identifying these problems and eliminating the reasons for them, savings alone in the first year exceeded a million dollars.

In a very competitive industry, Molina Health Care was able to sail back into the black and stay there. The number of members increased 20 percent within the first year and a half and the California-based operation has been able to begin expansion into two adjoining states. In addition, the company has purchased its corporate headquarters building in Long Beach.

"We have used The Game of Work principles long enough to track the results to see that they are definitely paying off," says Dr. Molina. "Everybody needs to know if they're winning or losing; and now, everybody here knows."

To learn more about how The Game of Work can help your business win call (800) 438-6074.

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