Sunday, May 28, 2017

Culture Mismatches

When reading "Your Strategy Needs a Strategy", one of the points that stuck out to me was the difficulty in implementing strategic models when they don't align with the company's current culture. This happens to be something my company is currently working through.

A few years ago, the Health Insurance Provider (HIP) that I work for was sanctioned by CMS (Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services) for "widespread and systematic failures" and banned the HIP from enrolling new customers. As noted in an ArsTechnica article, the HIP inappropriately denied services and then didn't properly address the issue when customers complained. [1]

Over the last 18 months, we've worked towards fixing those failures. An auditing/consulting group came in and, as a collective, we started from scratch building out new processes and procedures. Many of these changes resulted in a significant amount of oversight, either in new reporting channels or project management documentation requirements, which is a drastic change from the laissez-faire approach to management the HIP has historically had. No longer were the business units able to make decisions as silos and PM deliverables are reviewed by the organization every two months to ensure that they strictly adhere to the agreed upon guidelines.

As can be expected, these changes haven't sat well with everyone. Early on, new executives were brought in to help shepherd the transition and as a result several managers have either resigned or been asked to leave. The "old way" that many employees flourished in when they started several years ago no longer exists and many of these employees are not at odds with the company that they work for and no longer recognize.

Another point that stuck out to me during the readings this week was the idea of involving employees in decisions. One example is the City of Charlotte asking for volunteers to pilot their balanced scorecard approach and allowing each business unit to define the metrics they felt were most important. Another was a suggestion of viewing planning sessions as "conversations" instead of "reviews by the CEO" (The Real Value of Strategic Planning).

If the issues that led to the sanctions were caught earlier, the HIP would have been able to address their issues on a different time frame. Executives and managers would have been able to work together to ensure that everyone felt involved in the growth and transformation of the company. The change in the company culture could have become a collaborative process. Ideas would have come from within about how to alter the business processes and ways to add oversight, but without the heavy handed approach that was ultimately required.

1. https://arstechnica.com/science/2016/01/feds-sanction-health-insurance-company-for-erroneously-denying-coverage/

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