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An Epic Corporate Visit

September 7, 2011
by Bobbie Byrne
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What happened when we headed off to Verona, Wisconsin by bus

Usually when I sit down to write a blog post, the words flow pretty easily and quickly—of course the smart-aleck readers may say that the speed shows in the quality… Writing about our corporate site visit to Epic, however, has been difficult. Yes, work has been crazy busy and I have triplets heading back to school, but trying to get the whole experience into 500 words or less is the cause of my writer’s block not time constraints. I have therefore decided to not comment on the great product, interesting future and the smart people. That and more was all present, but I will focus on the less-discussed but still noteworthy parts of our trip.

A Scheduling Miracle: We rented a “party bus” to transport all of the Edward executive team, several physicians, and executives from a large multi-specialty group in our area. The idea that we could get 17 healthcare executives and physicians to all auto-magically “become available” on the same day was a feat in itself. Funny how clear calendars become when there is some good hype, as everyone wanted to go.

Economic Development: At dinner the night before in a Verona restaurant with some Epic staff including CEO Judy Faulkner, a local resident stopped by the table to thank Judy for the economic development she has brought to the area. Certainly. Washington could take a clue from Epic on how to create highly skilled sustainable jobs.

Money Well Spent: At breakfast at the hotel, one of my colleagues noted with cynicism about how “healthcare dollars” paid for the fancy campus. By the end of the day, the doubters had turned to converts, believing that the investments Epic made were some of the smartest “healthcare dollars” spent.

Humble Beginnings: We heard the funny story about how Judy had started the company as a programmer wearing sweatshirts and jeans, did not own a suit and did not have a clue about how to advertise (so she never did and “doctors don’t trust it anyway”).

Art and Ice Cream: Then there was the public walking around looking at the art. If you are ever in Madison, stop by to take the public tour. It is something else. Just beware of all off the little kids eating ice cream from the cafeteria.

Four-Star Views: Speaking of the cafeteria, it has the views and ambience to rival any premier establishment. In fact, you cannot turn around without seeing some gorgeous vista. One of my directors wants to be re-incarnated as an Epic gardener.

Don’t Wear a Skirt to Epic: Don’t underestimate the value of the big twisty slide—and it is a fast one at that. Seeing your colleagues get a little silly is a good bonding experience.

Berkshire-Hathaway? When Judy says “Names of people you would know have asked, and the company is not for sale at any price,” there was not a person in the room who did not believe her.

Sleeping at the Office: Everything is arranged for productivity. The private offices, the underground parking, the dry cleaners and convenience store are all designed to maximize the output. I went from skeptical that they really can put out that amount of code to thinking about how the heck we could actually absorb that amount of code?

Dress Code: We heard that Epic requires its employees to wear clothes. (What sticklers!)

And finally, my favorite part of the day—when Judy told me she reads my blog! Technically, what she said was, “I have read your blog.” (I did not want to ask if it was a one-time trial and rejection.)

So, Judy, if you are reading this--thanks for the great visit!



Always enjoy your posts, Bobbie! Thanks!

Bobbie - thanks so much for sharing this perspective. I was one of those skeptics 7 years ago, but now I drive off from the Verona campus every time thinking, "What an amazing culture". No person or company is perfect, but if you can create a culture like Epic's and it is engrained in all that you do and everyone you work with, you will be successful and you will make a difference.