Emory Report
October 27, 2008
Volume 61, Number 9



Emory Report homepage  

October 27
, 2008
Culture and strategy help WHSC achieve goals

Fred Sanfilippo is executive vice president for health affairs, CEO of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center and chairman of Emory Healthcare.

When you get more than 100 senior leaders in one room — especially leaders as energetic and creative as those in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center — innovative ideas are bound to result. That’s just what happened at a recent interactive session in which we engaged some of our best minds around a crucial topic: achieving the WHSC goals.

As we expected they would, our leadership proposed many thoughtful and promising recommendations WHSC should explore to help fulfill its goals of being the 21st century model of an academic health sciences and services center; an international leader in the highest quality patient care, research, education and public service; and a collaborative, inspirational environment that attracts and retains talented people. I’m confident that it will only be a matter of time before we begin to see these great ideas in action, underpinned by several critical success factors we’re building to ensure success in attaining our goals.

As several leaders pointed out, the Woodruff Health Sciences Center is a relatively young organization, and we’re maturing as a model academic health center all the time. Managing that growth process involves the ability to assess, understand and shape our organizational culture — a process we’ll soon be undertaking, again with the input of a large group of our senior leaders. By proactively addressing our cultural evolution, we can ensure that our culture is well aligned with our values. That’s one way we’re working to achieve our goals.

Another involves the old adage “form follows function.” It’s an architectural precept meaning that the design of a building should be based on its intended purpose. A similar tenet in biology is the relationship of structure to function, which is often used as the basis for developing drugs and other compounds with specific properties. To help ensure that the tactics we employ to achieve our goals succeed, we’re working hard to develop the appropriate organizational structures to match our desired organizational functions and culture, as well as to facilitate our lifesaving and life-affirming programs.

Finally, as a result of a lengthy and collaborative process, WHSC has clarified goals our entire organization supports and is collectively working toward. Now that we have developed specific goals tied to our vision, we’re engaged in a process to ensure that our strategies for achieving them are equally clear and attainable.

As our young organization continues to grow and change, we’ll keep shaping a constructive culture, aligning our structure in ways that ensure success in achieving our goals, and employing clear strategies developed through collaboration with our outstanding partners. Our proactive efforts will help ensure that we don’t experience growing pains, but rather growing opportunities for success in achieving our goals — and in transforming health and healing… together.

Please share your feedback at evphafeedback@emory.edu.