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Healthcare leaders driving a coordinated approach to change

March 26, 2012

Too many leaders recognize the imperative to change yet fail to create effective change in their teams, divisions, and organizations. Their failure is often a result of underestimating the requirements of successful change. The fact is that many of today’s changes go beyond technical or operational adjustments. Such changes require that managers and leaders help employees do the difficult, adaptive work of rethinking the business, and the way they do their daily work. Adopting new ideas, attitudes, and approaches that compete with established practices requires more than change management. It requires change leadership. And for any change leader, one of the initial and more crucial steps in the change process is identifying and analyzing key stakeholders.

In health care, the necessity to understand and successfully navigate change is critical. In the white paper: “Top health industry issues of 2012,” PricewaterhouseCoopers states that health industry organizations will need to connect in new ways with each other and their consumers as they wade through economic, regulatory, and political uncertainty.[1] To effectively operate within this uncertain and turbulent environment, clinics, hospitals and entire health-care systems will require an evolving and coordinated approach to change. Most critically, leaders with the experience, desire, and skill will need to drive such change.

Tony Scibelli, Vice President of Human Resources and Operations at Faxton–St. Lukes Healthcare is an example of a health-care leader who helped his organization move towards a model of “relationship-based care,” a system-wide program to direct more of the doctors’ and nurses’ attention on patients and families, thereby enhancing the overall quality of care. Mr. Scibelli recognized that such a shift would go far beyond the boundaries of a typical process change. Leaders of Process Improvement at St. Lukes had traditionally viewed the HR department as a bureaucratic obstacle. In order to break this perception, Scibelli cast himself and his team as a support resource, who would address the people aspects of the change: “He showed them how HR would weave relationship-based care and continuous improvement into the fabric of this community hospital…for example by hiring and promoting the right people. He was at the table with them as they planned training and communications, and as they decided how to reward people who took on improvement projects.”[2]

One of the primary challenges that Scibelli faced during this change initiative was establishing credibility and garnering support from the Process Improvement Team. Any leader, however strong or charismatic, needs cooperation and active support for the change initiative to succeed. Similar to Scibelli actions, at the start of a change initiative, a leader must put together a team of stakeholders that has enough power to initiate and drive the change.

Identifying and analyzing key stakeholders is the first step in this process.  Click here for a free tool to help get you started in identifying and analyzing key stakeholders in your next change process.

[1] PWC, “Top Health Industry Issues of 2012”

[2] Power, Brad. Harvard Business Review. “Why doesn’t HR Lead Change?” November 16, 2011.

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