Written by: Ray Pedden

I am continuously reminded that the innovation efforts that we are supporting involve change. Change at many levels of an organization, change that affects individuals and how they get through their day. In looking back over all of the blogs, infographics and Health Pilot podcasts, every one of them illustrates some change.

Jay Pullins (a fellow graduate of the United States Air Force Academy) recently penned an article about his experiences in leading change. Among other things, Jay leads “Leadership Learning Adventures” in the Alaska wilderness. From where I sit, his view is spot on when it comes to how effective leaders communicate the need to change. You can read it here.

Jay’s main point is that, while we all recognize a need to figure out better ways to care for our patients and our communities, our approach on a daily basis may be offensive to some. Not offensive as in obscene or impolitic. I’m talking about the kind of offense we can give when we dismiss or disrupt the things that others hold dear.

His point is that all of our people are doing a lot of great things every day. Most of those things are very important, and even those that aren’t can feel important to the people doing them. According to Jay, “the biggest enemy of doing what’s best is an exhausting list of other noble things to do”.

During the process of leading innovation and change in the safety net, how do you deal with those “good things” that have become “sacred cows”? At West County Health Center, they actually put the “sacred cow” up on the wall so that everyone can acknowledge its existence and deal with it as part of the change process. Maybe we should all do that.

To paraphrase Jay’s question, how have you challenged your people to embrace innovation and change while preserving their dignity and providing encouragement?

Maybe we should all sign up for one of the Leadership Learning Adventures that Jay organizes in the Alaska wilderness. Or maybe we can just be a little more sensitive to the sacred cows we risk tweaking when we make big changes.