Holidays are over now and we’re in the depths of the dark winter months. But they don’t last forever! I hope all of you were able to take some time for yourselves and your family, and get some exercise and fresh air. Like many people, I spent some of my holidays reading and reflecting. One excellent book I read (by Jon Katzenbach and Zia Khan) was Leading Outside the Lines: How to Mobilize the Informal Organization, Energize Your Team, and Get Better Results, which talks about the informal and formal sides of organizations. According to the authors: “Leaders at all levels have a difficult time with, or don’t realize they need to address, a key avenue to success: balancing two distinct dimensions of human behavior and organizational performance—the formal and the informal elements. Learning how to mobilize the informal elements of an organization to accelerate the formal elements goes a long way in helping leaders fill the gap between intention and results.” More on this later.
At VON, we are focused on the changes needed to deliver exceptional client experiences as well as effective, efficient service delivery. Our aim as always is to provide compassionate, timely, person-centred care/service at every touch point with clients and customers. We have learned a great deal in the past year and I have a lot of confidence going into 2012 that our hard won experience will be an asset.
It is budget planning season, a time when all the various things we are working on come together to form a broad fiscal picture – and we definitely want a budget we can count on. At the same time, the traditional static budget (with a snapshot of 12 months) has its limitations, particularly in a dynamic external and internal environment. So we need other strategic performance management tools (e.g. Balanced Scorecard, quality/operating metrics, etc.) to help steer and align us, keep us on track with the things that matter, and tell us ‘what success looks like’.
In line with Leading Outside the Lines, budgets and Balanced Scorecards, as aspects of the formal organization, are only effective when they are enabled by and work in concert with the organization’s informal system. Examples of the informal organization include VON’s shared values, people networks, relationships, pride in our work and our teams. It can be very powerful when the informal and formal systems are working together–that is what we are striving for. And the end result is that we can fulfill our mission and serve our clients and communities.
2012 will continue to bring change in our collective and individual practices, as well as ways of working and communicating. When we listen, are in tune, adapt and practice the things we know will contribute to success, we will certainly achieve our goals.
Guest blogger: John Gallinger, COO of VON Canada