Choosing to Accept Change

When Fred ask me to write a short article regarding my thoughts on the importance and impact of change management principles for supply chain executives in today’s healthcare environment, I was immediately struck with a centering theme of “choice.” Choice? One may ask what does choice have to do with change and why would it serve as a centering theme for this article? Let me attempt to set the stage for my reasoning by offering two statements that I believe portrays today’s healthcare supply chain environment.

  • With the Affordable Care Act now in various stages of implementation, supply chain leadership finds itself at an unprecedented opportunity to excel. To do so requires a transformational change from one of that is operationally focused (cost and price controls) to a multi-dimensional strategic approach (value-based/total cost of ownership).
  • Recalibration of the delivery model from volume to value will drive a fundamental shift in how supply chain professionals view themselves as major contributors in the new healthcare environment. This shift in thinking will require a higher level of competencies both in the technical aspects of what we deliver as well as the behavioral and change management skills we must possess to be recognized as agents of change.

The canvas on which supply chain executives operate today is dramatically different from yesterday’s environment. It is framed with uncertainty, unexpected challenges and high expectations of success. This will require a forward way of thinking and acting. Most importantly, it will take a strong will to accept change as a key driver of success. With such a challenging canvas on which we must now operate, I believe supply chain executives must choose to recognize that change inevitably will be a constant variable in today’s healthcare environment. Thus, they must embrace the importance of change management and the pivotal role it plays in developing a successful strategic plan or risk professional stability.

I believe that supply chain executives are at a crossroad of extraordinary opportunity that compels them to stretch their talents, way of thinking and, most importantly, our leadership capabilities. If you believe as I do that strategic leadership is defined as the ability to express a strategic vision for the organization and the emotional intelligence to motivate and persuade others to acquire that vision, then change management must be incorporated as an essential component in your overall strategic planning efforts.

By way of this short article I’m sure you know where I rest on this issue and would like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Nick Gaich is the founder and CEO of Nick Gaich and Associates, a firm dedicated to providing executive coaching, leadership development, strategic planning and operational performance. He retired in 2012 from his post as assistant dean of clinical and translational research operations, Stanford Center for Clinical and Translational Research and Education at Stanford University School of Medicine.

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