Culture change, slow and steady

You start in a new leadership position and you want to make changes.  Should be easy, right? After all, you’re the boss. You call the shots.Culture change

Not so.

You inherit a history and a culture, ways of working and thinking and behaving. You inherit a leadership team and a staff. You inherit a department that works within a broader organization and its culture. Still, you are the leader; you can make some changes, but it will take more time.

When I started at UMHS, there had been a 6 month gap with an internal interim CIO. She had kept things going but was happy to handoff to me. Continue reading

Plan for the future, manage for today

How often have you heard an IT leader say they want a position that’s “more strategic” and “less operational?”

The reality is that there is always a balance of both, depending on the level you work at in your organization. Sometimes, it’s not the balance you’d like to see.

Me too.

As the CIO, my typical day is back to back meetings. Plus, I squeeze in email and phone calls on a range of additional issues. I read and answer email well into the evening after I get home.

In the past week, I’ve reviewed presentations and read articles on health care in the future and how technology enables innovation: reflective thinking and planning.  Continue reading

Listen and learn — why I host staff breakfasts

Last November, I started the practice of hosting monthly breakfasts for up to 20 of my department staff at a time. We skipped two months around the time of our major inpatient go live in June. That means I’ve spent time with at least 160 staff getting to know them, listening to their concerns and answering questions in a small, informal setting. There’s a small group of “frequent flyers” who have come to more than one so far. I tease them that it must be the food but I know it’s them wanting to have a voice which I’m happy to listen to.  “Make your voice heard” is a theme I’ve been encouraging all year.

At the most recent breakfast, there was a lull in the conversation.  I called upon one of my frequent flyers whom I have come to know is willing to tell it like it is.  Continue reading

Leader as conductor

Many leaders use a musical analogy to describe leadership: the leader is like a conductor. I wonder how many of them have actually been part of an orchestra or a choir member? I have been in HIT management for 30 years and I have sung in church choirs for over 20 years.

When I walk into our weekly choir rehearsal, I am just one of about 50 voices ready to take direction from our leader – an extraordinary young man, Glen Thomas Rideout, who just completed his PhD in Musical Arts in Conducting. Regardless of the job we hold or the day we had, we are there to take direction from him, to listen to one another and to make music. Continue reading

Values in action. . .

When I started here at the University of Michigan, I told the people I was to lead about my core values and expectations.

Prioritizing issues at our “11 at 11” meeting today.

  • Teamwork – I expect people to respect one another and work together for common goals.
  • Transparency – I practice and expect open, proactive communication.
  • Customer service – While we don’t touch patients directly, we are all part of the extended care team; clinicians and caregivers rely on our systems to safely care for patients. We must provide excellent customer service in every interaction.
  • Accountability – Each of us needs to take ownership and deliver on our commitments.
  • Innovation – We work for a leading organization in health care, as IT professionals we must always look for ways to innovate.
  • Continuous improvement – I was delighted to learn of the culture of continuous improvement within UMHS and the focus on lean health care. There are always opportunities to improve.
  • Results focus – We need to focus on end results. Even though process is important, we shouldn’t get bogged down in it.

Continue reading