In his best-selling book The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, Peter Senge offers several “laws” that govern organizational behavior. Five of them are particularly apropos to physicians who are trying to build something new within their organizations but facing resistance.
1. Every problem was once a solution (that someone was invested in). Before you attack a problem, consider who is invested in the status quo or current solution; they could feel threatened by your actions. You will likely need to reach out to them and address their concerns.
2. The harder you push, the harder the system pushes back. Pushing an agenda is usually counterproductive. Instead, follow the appropriate process for making changes in your organization and make it easy for others to support you.
3. Faster is slower. If you try to accomplish something too fast but those around you aren’t ready, your efforts will likely fail. Slow and steady progress is ultimately the quickest way to get things done.
4. Cause and effect are not closely related in time and space. When you’re trying to solve a problem, don’t just look for immediate, proximal causes. Look for the underlying, systemic issues. This often requires having a historical perspective so you can see how events in the past have led to the current problem.
5. There is no blame. It’s tempting to want to blame someone in the organization for a bad situation, but that won’t solve the problem and may just create new obstacles. Instead of being a victim or part of the problem, be a solver of problems, working within the organization to accomplish its goals.
Read the full FPM article: “Leadership in a Health Care Organization: Not Like Private Practice.”
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