Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

Adopting an Organizational Culture of Continual Change

Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

Adopting an Organizational Culture of Continual Change

Article excerpt

A leading-edge organization must innovate constantly and with courage - and organizational leaders must provide the context that nurtures and acknowledges such innovation at every level.

The leadership of the CEO alone, while critically important, is insufficient to build an expectation of constant change into the culture of an organization. Many change leaders must be identified, recruited, developed, trained, encouraged and acknowledged throughout the organization. As the CEO of Markham Stouffville Hospital, I have insisted on the development of two critical success factors in those individuals, including non-management people, who are charged with accountability for managing change.

The first factor is a finely-tuned ability for them to see and understand the impact that they have on those around them. A clear awareness of the impact that one has on others provides an important human perspective that is necessary for any leader committed to courageous organizational action which makes a difference. It is only inside of this awareness that a leader can begin to acknowledge and manage the gaps between "leaderspeak" and the real world of organizational or departmental culture.

The second success factor that is fundamental to our change managers' ability to thrive is the achievement of comfort with ambiguity. Rapid change means radically increasing levels of ambiguity - ambiguity that will be with us into the next century, regardless of what business we are in. Innovative organizational structures, for example, will not have all of the attendant problems worked out in advance. Excitement, however, truly can be found in the recognized opportunity to create one's own solution. Staff will increasingly encounter situations where they do not know what the next challenges are, let alone the range of possible solutions. Leaders are comfortable with this ambiguity and know when to refrain from trying to "fix it" or assign blame. Leaders avoid falling into the trap of "there's something wrong here" discussion. Tom Peters summarizes well when he says that the most successful managers in excellent companies have an unusual ability to resolve paradox, to translate conflicts and tensions into excitement, high commitment, and superior performance.

In addition to the two vital leadership skills of self-awareness as it relates to the impact one has on others, and a high level of comfort with ambiguity, some of Markham Stouffville Hospital's strongly held leadership beliefs include: the value of the team; full disclosure of information; trust; a strong and visible commitment to action; and, partnership between providers, both internal and external. …

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