Sponsoring Successful Change: Sponsorship—Does it Matter?

    Posted by Dale Gentz and Katrina Slavey on Mar 19, 2019 10:16:00 AM
    Part of the Sponsoring Successful Change series:
    1. Sponsoring Successful Change: Your Role as Change Agent
    2. Sponsoring Successful Change: What is Sponsorship?
    3. Sponsoring Successful Change: Sponsorship—Does it Matter?
    4. Sponsoring Successful Change: What are the Keys to Effective Sponsorship?
    5. Sponsoring Successful Change: What Does Success Look Like?
    6. Sponsoring Successful Change: What Kind of Sponsor Would You Be?


    In a word, yes. An organization may develop a clear vision for the future, engaging the team in the plan for change, only to see the work fizzle out because of a lack of true sponsorship. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

    A medium-sized health system in the Midwest is engaging in a major switch from one electronic medical record system to another. Plans are set; staff are trained; templates are built; implementation schedules are in place; the conversion date is approaching. An influential physician from one of the practices in the medical group arranges to meet with the network executive, where she pleads her case to be given an exemption from the conversion. Following the meeting, the network executive approves the exemption. This group is about to face an insurrection. In an effort to assuage one physician, the network executive (project sponsor) has opened the door to every other provider who has been hoping the change wouldn’t take place. “What about me?” “If she can have an exemption, I want one too.” The implications of this decision go far beyond the conversion. They open potential divisions between providers in the group that materially affect the group’s culture going forward, all because there was less than total support of the project on the part of its sponsor.

    By the same token, when sponsorship is strong, the goal becomes shared. This shared vision creates partnerships and teamwork that are focused on bringing the plan to fruition. When everyone understands the goal, employees work together to make the dream a reality. This is the magic moment when organizations realize that anything is possible as long as everyone is on board.

    Previously, one of our clients recognized the need for consistency relative to physician compensation. At the time, there were several different compensation models being utilized. The goal was to implement one shared model for the physicians. Obviously, this met with resistance, and several physicians wanted to maintain their current model. The sponsor never deviated from the plan. What made the process successful? A shared vision and clear communication with all parties involved. For a period of six months, the physicians received payroll stuffers relating to what their compensation would look like under the new model. There were no surprises. This also gave the physicians who were not currently meeting productivity targets the opportunity to improve prior to the implementation of the new model. The result? A win-win situation for all parties concerned. Revenue improved for the system and the physicians were rewarded for their work. The key to this success was the strong, clear sponsorship the project experienced.

    As with any plan, one needs to be flexible; however, it is important to stay the course and remain focused on the goal. Exceptions breach the credibility of the project and create dissension. When you stay focused, the results can be extraordinary.

    In this and our prior posts, we have talked about what sponsorship is and the important role it plays in successful implementation of major change. In our next installment, we will discuss the keys to effective sponsorship.


    Topics: Physician Practice Management, Engaging Employed Physicians, Medical Group Consulting

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