Complex Adaptive Systems in Healthcare: A Leader’s Perspective – Part 2

By Greg Hunter, RT (R) (T)

      Beth Boynton, RN, MS

In the first part of this article, we have discussed the differences of the traditional system and the Complex Adaptive Systems used in healthcare organizations, as well as the aspects by which they differ. The traditional system focuses on the management part instead of on leadership and collaboration. It deals with hierarchy and looks at efficiency in accomplishing tasks rather than outcomes. Complex adaptive systems take healthcare organizations as a dynamic interacting web of components, with ever changing roles and tasks.

In this part of the series, we take a closer look at how pro-active management takes its form in complex adaptive systems with a focus on leadership and collaboration.

Leadership and Collaboration in Complex Adaptive Systems

While we lay the descriptive components of both old and new systems, it may seem That Complexity Science is all neatly packaged with all components looking grand, and working in accordance with organizational goals. But the truth of the matter is that the dynamism in this new system also acknowledges the chaos and complications arising from the changes that are happening, hence the word “complexity” is used. There is no simple and single component that is independent of other parts. Even in this scenario of turbulence, leaders still do what they are expected to do: to lead and manage.

Leaders who recognize and understand the complexities of their organization lead and manage better than their traditional counterparts. What characterizes an exemplary manager in Complex Adaptive Systems in healthcare? The following are some ways that they stand out in their capabilities:

  • They recognize emergence of new trends and behaviors, and self-organization.

Truly great leaders in the healthcare industry know that control and giving commands accomplish tasks but may not produce expected outcomes. These managers bank on people’s innate drive to accomplish things given the right motivation and incentives. Keeping the tracks and channels open for information exchange gives more freedom for tasks that adapt to changes. This is the power of collaboration. It allows the system to let members achieve as individuals and as one organization collectively.

  • They have visions and objectives.

Leaders who are visionaries produce more quality outcomes. They are good in spotting trends, and they plan and act on them to coincide with their projection. Having a vision should come hand in hand with sound objectives. This is important to allow those they lead to know boundaries and requirements of attaining goals. This is also a part of the collaboration process.

  • They are resilient.

All leaders definitely encounter problems and challenges in their organizations. But only those who acknowledge that there are situations that cannot be changed or undone come out as winners. Resilient leaders adapt to adversity and are able to roll with the punches amidst difficulties. They are able to stand firm and still collaborate with members in the achievement of goals.

  • They turn obstacles into opportunities.

To some managers, budget cuts mean the end of the world. They become stuck in the situation and a lot of tasks will be put on hold. But those who learn to dance in the rain will see this as an opportune time to review delegation processes, to foster more meaningful interrelationships, and to reshuffle work accordingly to fit and match work to corresponding people.

  • They invest on employee engagement.

Employee engagement works in the premise that properly driven and happy workers produce greater and more quality outcomes. Leaders who invest on this aspect of management end up happy themselves because they have created a healthy working environment that promotes teamwork and collaboration among members.

If your organization needs a boost in any aspects of leadership and collaboration, or employee engagement, ManageUP can help by enhancing closed loop communication and automating information dissemination and documentation. They are also experts in creating opportunities for continuous learning. Their expertise spots changes and trends and help leaders react and adapt to potential results of changing roles and tasks.