Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Leading CHRISTUS in the New Economic Environment, Part 2

In last week’s post, I discussed my interview with two representatives from IBM who asked to hear my thoughts for their 2010 Global CEO study entitled, “Leading in the New Economic Environment.” Many of their questions dealt with change and the external forces that CHRISTUS has been forced to respond to in order to remain successful and continue fulfilling our mission of extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.

But they also wanted to know about the internal systems and resources that must be in place for us to navigate the changing waters of the new economic environment.

They wanted to know which characteristics in our leaders are uniquely important in the health care industry. I named
Compassion first, because decisions must be made with patients and their families at the forefront;
Excellence, since our patients come into our facilities and turn their lives over to us every day, therefore we believe that excellence is a necessity, not a luxury and

In fact, I believe that leadership and holding our leaders accountable will be some of the most crucial capabilities CHRISTUS will need in the next five years to execute our strategic plans and meet future opportunities successfully, and these leaders will need a whole new set of competencies that we didn’t need 10 - 15 years ago.

As an example, because of the recent instability in worldwide financial markets, I have had to become increasingly savvy in the treasury function of our operations. Our bond financers now expect us to basically perform as a for-profit, and in order to refinance our bonds, I am asked to talk to investors. They want to know that I have the knowledge to make things go well, and are no longer content with hearing solely from our CFO.

I say repeatedly that where we are successful in CHRISTUS, it is because we have the right leaders and teams in the right place, and where we are not successful, it is because we do not have the right leaders and teams in place. It has little to do with our assets, the age of our buildings, or anything else. Success starts with leadership, and our experiences in the economic climate of the last 12 months has taught us that we must continue to develop leaders with the capacity to change. (Earlier this year, I blogged on what leaders must do/change in challenging economic times. If you’re interested in reading that post, it’s located here.)

Our experience over the last year has also taught us that in the future, we will have to look at new and innovative ways to communicate with both internal and external stakeholders. Times of instability remind us once again that if there is a communication gap, it will get filled. (And usually it is filled with rumors fueled by fear.) We know that CHRISTUS is well positioned to meet future challenges because of our extensive future and strategic planning, but we have less time to execute these plans because of the health reform that now seems imminent in the U.S.

We have also learned that we will need to continue to enhance our intense focus on metrics. Without metrics, you can’t hold people accountable. We must continue to focus on a few critical success metrics and communicate upfront what’s expected of people if we are to attain them. In addition, these metrics must interconnect. Our Journey to Excellence sets out a path for us to achieve high quality in our 4 directions (clinical quality, service delivery, business literacy and community value), but we’ve learned that we must improve in all those areas in a parallel fashion, as they don’t operate in a vacuum, but together form one complete picture. And we know that this is possible, as we have just finished our best financial quarter in 11 years. We will continue to rely on our balanced scorecard and Strategic Portfolio Analysis (SPA) algorithm to help us track and report on these metrics.

No comments: