Forgive Me, But I Need Moment to Revisit One of My Favorite Topics: Dolphin Strategy and the Pools Where Sharks Routinely Bloody the Waters

In their omnipotent beneficence, the gods of the Internet have led me to a tool for searching that I’d not known to exist before. If you aren’t aware of it either, then you may want to bookmark it. The site is It purports to index 10 million articles “not found on any other search engine.” (Some of these can be accessed without charge, and some you have to pay for.)

Now the test of whether this kind of service is worth a moist Fig Newton is always whether anything shows up when you type in your own name.

Fortunately, has a few entries mentioning your favorite blog personality or you wouldn’t be hearing anything about it to begin with.

The mention I like best is in an article I’d forgotten. I quote from it not because it spelled my name correctly but because I’ve always been intrigued by the activities it described. So if you’ll indulge me a moment of nostalga, here are a few paragraphs from my only known appearance in Nursing Management. The article is by a Navy captain, Jane Swanson:

“ONCE UPON A time…I became the Director of Nursing Service for a group of 10 clinics spread across three states covering over 984 driving miles. Within 3 months of my taking the position, the clinics were consolidated under a large hospital and became hospital-sponsored ambulatory care clinics. To meet the requirement to provide the same quality of care across all practice settings, we had to hire clinical nurses for the five larger clinics.

“None of the nurses who applied had ever worked in ambulatory care. Most came from hospital backgrounds and had cared for patients who required specific nursing tasks for a finite period of time. The very different demands of an ambulatory setting proved challenging. Many of the nurses experienced frustration, feelings of inadequacy, role confusion and burnout. Staff turnover was high….

“About this time, a staff development program using an analogy from Dudley Lynch’s [and Paul Kordis's] book, Strategy of the Dolphin, generated much interest and good-natured kidding.

“A carp symbolized codependent behavior, a shark represented aggressive behavior and a dolphin stood for the ability to cope and excel in a changing environment. ‘Dolphins’ like a challenge and are able to thrive in a tough environment. They are expert at reading the currents of organizational attitudes, searching for clues and monitoring developments. They are very adaptable, swim well in constantly changing water, float in any current, dive in any pool. Being both team players and self-reliant, dolphins can coordinate actions or act completely alone. If things aren’t working, dolphins will change tactics until something does work.

“Dolphin behavior around sharks is legendary. Using their intelligence and strong will, they can be deadly to the sharks. Bite them to death? Oh, no! Dolphins circle and ram, circle and ram. Using their bulbous noses as amphibious bludgeons, they methodically crush a shark’s rib cage until the aggressive creature sinks helplessly to the bottom.

“The staff began to identify with dolphin behavior. As they noted, most behaviors in the work environment related to carps and sharks. It became clear that the dolphin’s strategy is more than an approach to positive thinking. It is a way to think collaboratively.

“On their own, the staff adopted a dolphin emblem for those who had done something especially noteworthy and recognized someone monthly. (Also, plastic carps and sharks appeared mysteriously around the clinic from time to time on various desks.) After workshops in a variety of clinics with all the staff, the FISH framework became well known. Staff meetings were sprinkled with: ‘Are you carping?’ or ‘You’re swimming like a dolphin’ or ‘Ouch, the sharks are out today.’ In the end, the staff did start to trust one another. Communication improved, all staff became involved, cooperation increased and healthy laughter was heard once again. A team with a common goal of quality patient care and mutual respect for each other emerged.”

At the time, Capt. Swanson was director of ambulatory nursing at National Naval Medical Center Bethesda in Maryland.

Her bio note added: “The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.”

Obviously, Capt. Swanson knows her way around the shark pool.

To read the entire article, go here: Building a successful team through collaboration

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