Emory Report
April 13, 2009
Volume 61, Number 27


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April 13
, 2009
Aligning culture with strategy to achieve goals

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

Many of us are familiar with the old Peter Drucker adage, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Perhaps fewer of us are familiar with his assertion, “The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.” More than 100 senior leaders of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center met on April 1 for a planning session to examine the relationships among culture, strategy and change and to identify how WHSC can better align these factors to accelerate the extraordinary momentum it has achieved in recent years.

WHSC’s trajectory over the past decade has brought the organization to a position of great achievement. However, as we’ve grown, we’ve become a product of our own success. We’ve outstripped some of the processes, structures and behaviors that helped get us here. That’s why our recent leadership planning session focused on culture transformation within WHSC. As our organization and our environment have changed, our strategies have changed as well. In order to accelerate momentum toward our mission, vision and goals, it will be critical for our culture to adapt nimbly — especially in this volatile external climate.

Fortunately, the results of an organizational culture survey completed by these same leaders last fall show a high degree of unanimity around the culture we’d like to collectively achieve — a constructive culture that values achievement, collaboration, creativity, and individual and team growth. Through our discussions, we established a common understanding of what culture is and what it impacts, developed a compelling case for change within the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and began to define specific changes and continuities we’d like to see in our culture.

As we begin to undertake the next steps in our culture transformation process, we will call on faculty and staff throughout our organization to help us build an environment in which we are all empowered to attain new heights of achievement and to create a culture that will help us improve our performance in alignment with our strategies and goals.

Together, we will build a high-performing culture that will take the Woodruff Health Sciences Center from great to even greater as we continue transforming health and healing … together.