Guided by our North Star: Re-starting a company

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Jack Callison
Jack Callison

We all wish we had more time for reflection – spending time thinking about our lives, our families, our residents and our employees. When we took the time to truly reflect, it amazed us how quickly the clutter faded to the background and we could focus on where we are headed and how best to get there. 

Last year, our company experienced a major transition that allowed us the opportunity to recalibrate. As Assisted Living Concepts, a 32-year pioneer in the assisted living industry, we embraced this opportunity and began to reflect on who we are and where we were relative to today's changing senior living climate. 

The answers we uncovered indicated that we were not who and where we wanted to be. With that as a backdrop we began work on a plan that would chart a new course and allow us to restart as an organization – but something was missing. What was going to be our ultimate guide on this journey, our North Star? 

We took a step back to reflect on why we are all here – to care for and serve those in need. 

Setting a Direction 

At that point, we realized that along our journey we had, at times, become sidetracked – focusing on the wrong things and losing sight of our North Star. We had jumped into making operational changes without a clear sense of why. We began to be more transactional and less strategic. 

So, we seized the opportunity to reframe the way we think about why we are here. We realized it was not just about care and service but, more specifically, that we wanted to enrich the lives of the people we serve. Guided by this new sense of direction, we jumped into establishing a new set of guide posts – a mission, a vision and core values – that would help us along the way. 

The time we spent reflecting on our company, employees and residents provided us great clarity about key tenets we then had in place that no longer supported our new, ultimate purpose. We needed a new way to express ourselves to our employees, our residents and the industry. By establishing a new mission, vision and set of core values, we quickly found that we were able to more fully focus on how we could make the enrichment of our residents' and employees' lives the heart of everything we do. 

Translating the Mission 

The next logical step was to use this new sense of direction to reflect on our brand – who we are, what we do, why we are different and what our residents experience. We asked ourselves those key questions to continue our recalibration, always guided by our North Star. Based on where we are today and where we aspire to be in the future, these answers helped us to begin establishing the foundation for our new brand. 

It soon became clear to us that our company name did not support who we are and held us back from who we wanted to become. We engaged our employees, residents and prospective residents to help us determine how we could best translate our mission – to enrich lives through meaningful relationships and vibrant communities – into a name that would fully support our ultimate purpose. 

We landed on Enlivant (pronounced: en-lye-vant) because our stakeholders consistently said that this new name resonated with them as a company that meant “life, lively, alive, vibrant, exciting, enriching” – everything we aspired to be. 

Moving Forward with Purpose 

Nearly a year into this recalibration, we are hard at work defining and executing a consistent resident experience, always guided by our North Star. Our mission, vision and core values have helped us to eliminate the noise and really dive deep into how we provide this experience to our residents and employees with every interaction, every day. For instance, our updated website now serves as a resource for how to start the conversation about assisted living with loved ones. 

Our North Star continues to serve us as a litmus test with all of our decisions. If our actions do not enrich life, then we will not proceed. We know now: it's just that simple. 

Stopping to reflect has allowed us the freedom to act within a clearly defined framework. While the journey has not always been easy, we know that taking time to find our North Star has proven to be time well spent. 

As we continue to grow in the assisted living industry, we will periodically pause and reconnect to make sure we do not lose sight of who is guiding us on our journey – our residents and employees. 

Jack R. Callison Jr. is the CEO of Enlivant (formerly Assisted Living Concepts).

 

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