Unleash Talent Don’t Manage It

November 9, 2009 by

Recently I was speaking with Steve Laymon, Associate Dean of the Graham School of General Studies at the University of Chicago about Talent Management. Steve said, “you can’t manage talent, you can only unleash it.” I wholeheartedly agree with Steve. And that got me thinking about what happens when you put the word management after anything. With management comes programs, and when any process or method becomes programmatic, it takes on the characteristics of the bureaucracy it is seeking to change. This certainly applies to Change Management.
The hidden meaning in words talent management or change management, is you can get the outcomes you want if you push the right levers. If you follow the prescription, you will get the cure. This is a false promise. Anyone who has ever tried to change anything knows that change is messy. Change management’s promise is, order, control, and predictable results. If only it were that easy.

Raising The Health Care Barn

June 24, 2009 by

Last week I listened to Fresh Air on NPR and heard an interesting story about the efficiency of our health care system. The story talked about the most expensive county in the US and one of the cheapest. (No need to name names but you can listen to the podcast if you like or read the article from The New Yorker.)  Interestingly, the key difference between the two was collaboration. In the collaboration case, costs were half as much and patients were healthier. Doctors from different specialties worked together towards the best outcomes for the patient.
This reduced unnecessary testing, made doctors feel supported in their decision making process and therefore reduced their fear of malpractice lawsuits. The more expensive county showed a culture of greed and self-protection despite some of the best malpractice limits in the country.
We have seen this play out time after time in our work. In Calgary we used our organizational barn raising process to bring together doctors, nurses, patients, and families to identify how to reduce wait times between seeing primary care physicians and specialists. The result, dramatic reductions in wait times, up to 40% depending on the specialty. We also used the same process to provide better access to services for people needing addiction services. As a result of these “barn raisings” organizations began working together towards reduced redundancy in the system and ultimately were able to help people live healthier happier lives.

As the President said yesterday in his news conference, regulatory reform is needed, AND we also need more efficiency in the system.

A wise woman said it best, “If you think an IT system will solve the problem you don’t understand your problem”. If you really want to get the best from IT then engage all stakeholders in designing and building the barn together.


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