Leadership is Key, but not Always Enough
As members of the Catalysis Healthcare Value Network team, we have a unique perspective on healthcare transformation because we go to see many organizations every year. When I reflect on the organizations that I have visited one thing stands out, leadership is key, but it is not always enough.
This year I have seen a few scenarios that demonstrate why an organization needs to work diligently to engage all areas of the organization in the transformation journey. Below are a few of examples of these scenarios played out:
Senior Leaders Delegate Change
We all know that leadership support and participation in organizational transformation is paramount in achieving true culture transformation and sustainability. I see the scenario time and time again of leaders delegating the lean transformation to the continuous improvement team and feeling that they don’t need to change. The team can get some traction within the organization and even help the operations teams realize improvement and engage in the transformation; but at some point, the new processes and systems begin to deteriorate.
Leader Support Varies in a Large System
Another scenario that I have observed is when there is variation in the level of buy-in and support from senior leaders within a system. One of my CHVN key contacts was leading improvement efforts and culture change at a hospital within their system. He did an outstanding job facilitating the implementation of a management system and coaching leaders in that hospital to the principles of operational excellence. Such a good job, in fact, that he was asked to go lead the change at another hospital within the system just miles down the road. At this location, the senior leadership was not engaged, and they struggled to get any traction at all.
Leaders Support Transformation, but it Falls Apart Anyway
I have also seen great progress decline when a strong improvement leader leaves for another opportunity either inside or outside of the organization. This can be a sign that that improvement team was owning the work rather than ensuring that the ownership stays with the operations and support teams.
There are many situations that cause a bump or detour along the transformation journey. One of the improvement teams at a CHVN member organization spent years working to support improvement at the operations level, but they didn’t have the backing and buy-in from senior leadership that they needed when they went through a major leadership change. Now that organization is finally gaining traction with leaders and is looking forward to the possibilities ahead.
These observations from my trips to the gemba remind me that the transformation house is indeed the best-known way to create a sustainable organization-wide transformation.
Change is hard, and it takes dedicated people, like yourselves, to constantly strive to make the organization better. Thank you for the work that you do!
Please share your learnings around leadership and transformation in the comments section below.
Paul Pejsa, Director of Delivery Operations
Principle-Based Executive Coaching
Catalysis Healthcare Value Network
Book: Management on the Mend , by John Toussaint, MD
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