Carm Moceri, of Healthcare Alignment Solutions defines ‘cultural transformation’ and its importance in executive leadership.
Well, cultural transformation, to me, is important for any leadership. And you know you … there are great books, there are webinars, there are blogs … but I’m fairly simplistic in my approach. When I was young and people said, “What’s the culture of your organization?” I didn’t know what they meant. And again, there are great terms that can define it. But simply put, the culture is the environment in which you deliver your products and services – in which you deliver experiences to others. It has to align with your overall direction as an organization.
So, if you are an organization that is focused on financial performance only, and driving that performance, you’ll have a certain culture within your organization to maximize that. And it may be that that culture meets those expectations, but it may be in that culture, that it’s very harsh on people, it doesn’t seek input, it’s very rote in its approach, it’s very defined – “I have policies, procedures, regulations you have to follow in order to maximize that profitability,” right? Not saying that’s right or wrong, just saying that’s the culture.
What we’re finding, more and more, is that cultures that are typically that command-and-control – meaning leadership in the board defines where we’re going and how we’re going to get there – and there’s no potential for creativity, there’s no potential to grow ideas from within, there’s no potential for innovation – that those are places the culture of the organization is stifling.
And you typically see a lot of turnover. You see people dissatisfied. They’re focused on just doing the work instead of really “where are we going?”
And so, cultural transformation, to me, is taking a culture that is unhealthy and it’s defined by the organization’s leadership is unhealthy – and there are a lot of things that contribute to that unhealthiness – many times leadership wants to say that it’s the people – if I only hired better people, we would have a better culture, we can meet our objectives. Many times, leaders aren’t willing to look into themselves. What are they doing to drive the cultural norms? What are they doing to try to expand on people’s ability to feel engaged? Are they doing things to go out and seek input prior to making decisions? Are they assured that the people of the organization understand the mission?
You know … there’s a story – and I’m going to get it wrong, I’m going to paraphrase it – but you know … a reporter walked into NASA before they were launching an expedition to land on the moon. And when the individual was in the lobby and saw the person – I think it was an environmental service aide cleaning, they asked that aide, “What’s your job? Why are you here? What do you do?” And the person didn’t say, “I’m here to clean the counters and make sure it’s sterile for people who come in.” The person said, “I’m here to put a man on the moon.”
That shows, to me, cultural alignment. That the mission was more important than the task of doing the work.
And many cultures that are are focused on the task of the work instead of the larger picture of “what’s the purpose of why I’m here?” So, in hospitals for example, a billing clerk may think their job is to make sure there’s an accurate bill. In my view, if you have a healthy culture, their job is to take care of patients.
Well, how do I do that as a billing clerk?
Well, I do make sure that the bill is accurate so that we can get reimbursed the money that we need. That, ultimately, fulfills making sure we have the right equipment. Because I have a large capital budget, that we hire the right people, that we put in the right programs, and that my input is as important as the board chairs to this organization’s culture.
So, the change in what’s evolving in leadership today is around engagement, creating healthy environments, creating the opportunity for people to have dialogue creating the opportunity to grow – an idea from the ground up – and ultimately, to make sure that that idea spreads itself across the organization, to be willing to take a risk – not a risk with somebody’s life – to be willing to take a business risk on something that may not ultimately succeed. But it does create an environment where people get excited about coming into work every day.
And to me, that’s what culture is all about. How do we create an environment that’s welcoming? That’s inviting? That ultimately grows itself in a way that helps people to feel fulfilled in their work? Allows people to grow and expand in their roles and responsibilities? Even though it may not be typically where they are in their career path, but ultimately, what might help them and helps their organization to succeed. And to stop the stifling of command-and-control – and even though you have objectives you have to meet, you can still meet them in other ways than by telling people what to do.
And so for me, cultural transformation is about all of that work and about the willingness of the board chair and leadership to think differently about the team of people that, ultimately, are performing the tasks and the duties. And to inspire them to be better, and inspire them to fulfill that mission, the purpose for why they exist.