(A preview of iProtean’s upcoming course, The Board’s Role in Leading Through Transition, featuring Karma Bass and Marian Jennings)
Innovative boards are paying attention to their-risk taking appetite. Hospital and health system boards traditionally have been very conservative organizations. It’s a strong history, and it’s a good place from which to start. But going forward, we need to be a little bit less risk averse, because not doing something has its own set of risks. Many hospital boards feed on each other and their perspectives that risk doesn’t work. But as events unfold, we will need to take a look at our culture; we will need to invite new voices into our boardrooms. We will need to ask people to go outside their comfort zones. A board’s job is not always to the institution exactly as it is. In fact, if we don’t change our organizations, if we don’t pay attention to the culture that we are putting forward in our organizations, and if we don’t reward risk takers, then we will run the risk that our organizations will be great until the day they’re gone.
The board should focus on what you are trying to accomplish and how you would like to be positioned. And then think about transition as a way to get there, as opposed to thinking that our job is to transition.
There are some very practical steps that you can take as a board to increase the ability of your board culture to support the kind of transformation that your organization needs. One step the board should consider is a mentoring program. As you bring new board members on—and even think about this for board members who may have joined within the last 12 months or so—you should pair them up with a more experienced board member, to really give them a vehicle to come up to speed as quickly as possible, but also to understand the dynamics of the board.
We need to ensure that when the board convenes, which might be six times a year, or four times a year, that there is enough trust, that we have built up enough personal relationships that we can be candid and respectful, we can be open and we can ask difficult questions in a respectful way, and we can ensure that we are discussing things that matter to the organization, at the right level for the board. And that doesn’t happen by putting talented people in the room together. It happens by mentoring, fostering relationships and intentionally building trust.
Another piece that the board needs to consider in looking at creating the culture for the future is being intentional in terms of the kinds of people you are bringing on the board. What are the attributes that they bring; and what are the competencies they bring?
For example, I know boards that are intentionally seeking individuals in their community who have worked in an industry or in a business that has undergone rapid change. They feel that those people have the life experiences to realize that what works today may not work at all in the future, and are open to making substantial changes in how you do what you do in order to be ready for the future. That kind of individual, with those kinds of competencies, can really help a board be successful.
So, What are the dynamics that we need to create in our board? What are the perspectives we need represented on our board? And what are the skills and life experiences that we need to have?
(The Board’s Role in Leading Through Transition will be in your library soon.)
Strategic Issues for Boards, iProtean’s latest advanced Mission & Strategy course, now appears in your library. It features speakers on cyber-security and the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015—complex topics that stymie many of us! Martin Liutermoza, Global Head of Information Security at Nasdaq, discusses IT security and risk management as well preparing for and mitigating cyber attacks. Seth Edwards talks about MACRA and MIPS versus the Advanced Alternative Payment model.
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