Sometimes to have the change we desire—better health care, better education, better government, and better business—we really need to change our perspective. This is not easy. How can we “let go” of the way we have always done things, even though the way we do things is the root of the problem.
There are many examples. We want better health care, so we hire more doctors and nurses. We want more business, so we offer lower taxes and more subsidies. We want better education, se we hire more teachers. You can probably come up with several of your own examples.
After decades of this “strategy” nothing has changed. Why?
At the core of any system challenge like health care and business and education is a root belief that solution will require “more”. For some reason we still believe we need “more” to solve our shared problems. What if that belief is wrong?
Approximately $3.36 billion annually is enough money to deliver high quality health care to 825,000 people which is what we spend in New Brunswick. Our costs are the second highest in Canada on a per capita basis. What does this mean? It means we do not have or do not need more money to fix the problem.
If we can accept this simple-but powerful-shift in perception something very exciting opens up.
We realize the solution does not lie with “more”, but with redistribution within the system of resources, funds, talents and infrastructure. Take for example the medical system. Instead of hiring more doctors, could we use more Nurse Practitioners, Dieticians, Physician Assistant and Pharmacists? Can we use technology to create greater efficiencies? By making these changes the health care system will finally develop some cohesion and adaptability.
What a stunning moment that would be to realize we have everything we need. We just need to put it together differently…and better. If we focus on redistribution, the results or outcomes would achieve the very thing we claim to desire in the first place…a change for the better.
We know “what” needs to be done…the deeper question is “how”. If there is one dominant theme which runs through all of today’s challenges for New Brunswick, it is awareness the way we have been doing things no longer works.
We know how. Consider all the human services we have from all ranges of health care, professionals, education professionals, business and entrepreneurial professional, forest management professional and all the rest. Consider all the studies done—all of them, in the past forty years. No one can argue we need another study. We have knowledge—a lot of knowledge.
So, if we have all the elements we need in order to do well, to be successful, to answer all our own challenges, why are we in the situation we find ourselves?
Leadership If we can accept we have all we need, then the catalyst which brings these elements together is leadership.
Now let’s add a twist. All of the challenges are systemic… The “how” of creating change in a system emerges very quickly and is complex. And, right along with that awareness come the solution. We need collaborative leadership. We need people in positions of authority, influence, knowledge to work collaboratively with elected officials who in turn, need to shift from simply wanting to be “in power” to practicing true governance that will improve services and provide true value. In addition we need the people of New Brunswick to be willing to endure short term pain for long term gain. It was Ralph Klein who said ‘show me the parade and I will lead. Politicians will respond to their constituents and all of New Brunswickers’ if they see there’s community support.
Essentially, we need all the people who have a piece-their piece-of the solution to a system challenge to come together to create a new design or model.. and see that it is implemented.
We also need a mind-set shift from elected officials. Instead of “if I do ”x”, I might not be re-elected”. What’s needed is “If I want to be re-elected, I should do “x”.
F. Buckminster Fuller is quoted as saying “you never change things that fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete”. That is exactly what the Equal Opportunity Legislation did in 1966 for New Brunswick. We now need a new chapter of equal opportunity (building on the fundamentals of what program and adapting to today’s socio-economic and demographic realty?
Collaborative Leadership would create a space-a forum-in which each of the professionals in their “silos” would come together to design and build the new model for systemic program delivery. It would integrate all three sectors-public, private, community volunteers to finally achieve what’s necessary: constructive convergence.
The Process of collaborative leadership can be implemented in any sector, and can resolve the problem of silo-thinking. Inviting people to effectively deal with shared problems and challenges is not pie-in-the sky. It is how anything ever gets done.
Daryl K. Branscombe, Chairman