Combining Organizations LO13709

Malcolm Burson (mooney@MAINE.MAINE.EDU)
Fri, 23 May 1997 07:16:07 -0500

Replying to LO13643 -- was: Intro -- Tim Sullivan

Tim, on Fri, 16 May 97, you wrote

> I am now training and quality improvement coordinator, reporting to the
> Quality Assurance Manager for Region 17 ( of 20) for the newly formed
> Ministry of Children and Families in the Province of British Columbia.
> I have direct access to the Regional Operating Officer (ROO), who is much
> like the VP of a semi-autonomous division of a large coorporation. She
> believes in the Learning Organization, CQI and her vision includes
> creating her region in that vision.
> The new Ministry(called "MacFamily" by most now) has been put together
> from pieces and programs formerly of other ministries, such as Social
> Services, Drug and Alcohol(children'd prgrammes), Probation, etc. The
> largest segment being the former Social ServicesMinistry. You can imagine
> the cultural fractionation and shock among all. There is great hurry to
> put together a new infrastructure to delivery services in the new way(the
> vision) while little continuing to maintain services (the old way).
> >
> One of my tasks is to build
> multi-disciplinary (or cross-functional teams) to provide a continuum of
> services to children and familiesin "neighborhood" centers. And in a way
> that can be measured, evaluated and "continuously improved".
> > These teams will consist of professionals ( social service, psychiatrists,
> mental health, probation, nursing, etc. ) from among the above mentioned
> "cannabilized" ministries who have not worked this way before, and who
> come from different "cultures" and value-sets. In addition, the provincial
> government, and the public service bureaucacyholds the purse strings, and
> that includes the number of FTEs ( full time positions) available to each
> region.

Tim, I've been hoping others would respond, but am willing to offer a
few humble opinions, since you have an interesting dilemma.
1. If your ROO is indeed familiar with LO ideas, then I hope you
can help her see that "creating her region in that vision" is
something she can sponsor, but probably will need to give up total
ownership of by letting the whole create the vision..
2. To me, the principal issue is starting quickly to involve the
whole organization in creating some shared vision. At the very
least, as you probably see, those disparate elements will need to be
invited to suspend assumptions rooted in their previous experience,
explore mental models, etc.
3. There will be some real crunches between trying to provide
services in the old way while building the new one. And this brings
in the pressure to DO SOMETHING, QUICKLY. I hope you can resist that
pressure, and do some creative "standing around."
4. Re: building the multi-disciplinary teams. In my mental health
org. experience, this often founders on the rock of "clinical
expertise" projected onto everyone else by the people with thehighest
degrees. Perhaps you could announce that this process will take some
time, and get a few teams to explore and build a model for teaming on
a trial basis. They will need to explore the models of clinical
hierarchy that different people are bringing to the table, and decide
how teams should deal with them. Again, serious and skillful
conversation is really crucial to what you're building.
5. Expect chaos, and learn from it. Your principle task may be to
let everyone know how crazy it is, and assure them that its OK. You
may want to have a look at some of William Bridges stuff on change,
particularly "Managing Transitions," which is full of solid hands-on
6. Remind people that "our clients can only get as healthy as we
are:" that is, if folks allow the newness and change to overwhelm
them, then the people you're serving won't benefit. Encourage folks
to take care of one another, and build in structures to support
7. Take care of yourself. Can you build a network of some of your
19 peers from the other regions, and use that as a place to discuss
what's going on, learn from others, etc.?
That's enough; I'm starting to sound very pretentious. Hope this
helps, and I'll welcome comments from others.

Malcolm Burson<


"Malcolm Burson" <mooney@MAINE.MAINE.EDU>

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