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My tenure with Christie Clinic concluded almost two years ago now. For those who have heard my story, I have always pointed out that, initially, it was a turnaround story; in that when I arrived in 1999 the business was in a tough spot strategically and financially. However, by the time I left, 15 years later, we (our team) had achieved significant gains in financial performance – both on the balance sheet as well as the income statement. Of course, this was accomplished while at the same time creating improvement in patient satisfaction, employee engagement, and by putting in place a systematic approach to improve the organization.
It was around 2001 when we brought in an outside organization that focused on Leadership Development through Experiential Learning. This resulted in a remarkable increase in connection and engagement among and through the Leadership Team. The training utilized a common language and broke down departmental silos. After extensive training with both the Board and Senior Team the training was then provided to Middle Management and all other employees. Following the training, as a way to continue to improve the organization, we implemented a Lean management system around 2005. This became a systematic approach to shifting our Culture to one of continuous improvement. At the time of my departure our 800-team members were implementing 1,200 improvement ideas monthly. This shift would never have been possible without the Experiential Leadership training that preceded it.
I have spoken to countless people and organizations that ask, “how did we do it” and the answer is the `Experiential Learning that preceded hearing of Lean was key to transforming our organization. Experiential Learning offers benefits and payoffs far surpassing Traditional Seminar based Learning. This Learning approach had a tremendous ROI, due to it bridging the gap between theory and practice, while producing demonstrable mindset changes. This training really took our team to another level of performance. Our Leadership was very cohesive and worked together to achieve the objectives of the organization. We accomplished all this while facing the myriad of patient demand, governmental and other payer requirements and tightening of reimbursement while costs were increasing. It is a fact that our team embraced developing a Culture of Continuous Improvement and Learning that has positioned the organization very well for the future. Experiential Learning is far superior to the traditional seminar and training approach that most organizations use.
SYSTEMATIC APPROACH FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
I stepped away about two years ago in order to reflect on what I could do next to make a contribution to the Healthcare Industry where I have devoted most of my life. I started out working in Healthcare when I was 16 years old as an Orderly in a small county hospital in my hometown. I am one year short of having 40 years working in this sector called Healthcare. I realized as I looked back on working in so many different areas, jobs and organizations in Healthcare that I have potential solutions to what ails the Industry. If I had to boil it down to one thing I would say that the healthcare crisis is due in part to a void of great leaders in the sector. I heard a quote recently, which said, a good leader has a quote, a great leader has a plan but an excellent leader has a system. It has become glaringly apparent that a lot of organizations do not have a systematic way of training and equipping leaders in Healthcare. I know we have a plethora of professional development organizations in Healthcare. I certainly do not want to disparage any of them, but what they are really good at is delivering “needed content” for the Industry but do little for leadership development. However, they will say they do, which is a little like going off and reading about riding a bicycle and then jumping on a bicycle and taking off riding. This is very much like what MBA programs do as well. The other thing the professional organizations tout is that they foster networking with others. In my almost 40 years of experience of C-level leaders it seems that they have closer relationships with others in the professional associations than they do with their own team members.
After reflecting on lessons learned and what I am passionate about; I really am committed to developing leaders in Healthcare. I believe every organization should have a systematic way of developing leaders and there is be no higher calling for a Chief Executive Officer than to have a system in place to do just that. Over these past two years I have spent significant hours reflecting while building a team to start working with organizations around Experiential Learning and Education and assisting executives in taking a systematic approach to their Leadership Development.
The launch of our new organization, Convergency Systems, has come at a very exciting time indeed. We are focused on organizational assessments conducted with and through Leadership Teams. By customizing an Experiential Learning and Educational program, organizations will achieve rapid improvements in Key Performance Indicators while putting in place a systematic approach to a Sustainable Cultural Shift of continuous improvement.
By Alan Gleghorn | Founder of Convergency Systems
* From the Pogo cartoon strip by Walt Kelly.