2018 AVA Leadership Summit: managing change

"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” - Martin Luther King, Jr

Long-term transformation has four characteristics. It affects all or most of the organisation, involves significant alteration of the status quo, lasts months or years and has strategic importance.

The AVA’s Digital Transformation project ticks all these boxes. As we move closer to delivering results in 2018, the need to effectively manage the change process is becoming more critical.

CEO Graham Catt (centre) at the
AVA 2018 Leadership Summit

Each year in February we facilitate a leadership summit for the Presidents or Presidents elect of our AVA groups. This year, recognising that our group leaders are critical to the success of the Digital Transformation, our development day focused on change management. We worked in partnership with Grant Thornton, a firm with extensive experience in managing extensive transformation, to create the agenda for our day.

Understanding the need for change

We need to invest in technology to achieve our vision of being the health and welfare leader in Australia’s animal industries and to deliver on our core purpose of supporting vets, speaking for the profession and building communities. Success for the AVA means:

  • giving better service to members and attracting new members with those improved services
  • being more efficient and productive
  • having better systems and better data, supporting better decisions
  • giving members and others interacting with us a great experience
  • promoting and marketing the AVA and our profession.

Understanding our technology projects and the benefits that will flow to our stakeholders

We were joined on the Friday evening by Paul Cassidy, from Guild Insurance Group’s  (GIG) leadership team, who shared GIG’s experience with digital transformation  and change. Paul emphasised the need for all involved to know why change is taking place and discussed the way Guild Insurance has been able to “put the customer at the centre of everything they do”.

Decision making based on good data, customer satisfaction and targeted, effective communication are just a few of the outcomes.

On the Saturday, participants took part in a trade show, breaking into smaller groups to get more insight into some of the new technologies the AVA will be introducing. This also provided an opportunity  to ask Paul about the Guild Group journey and, through a presentation on the model and culture of music and technology company Spotify, to learn more about new ways of working.

Reviewing our common understanding of the gaps between where we are now and where we need to be in the future

Working individually and then in small groups, we ranked our 'current state' and 'desired future state' against criteria including culture, profile, membership numbers, pace of change, technology adoption and member services. Our views were consistent on the areas for change, including the need for better/ faster adoption of new technologies, and to continue positioning the AVA as a leader and influencer.

Building new skills

Our afternoon session was facilitated by Mike Jenner, a leadership development professor. Mike has an MBA from Harvard and ran the most highly rated leadership course at the Booth School of Business in Chicago for a number of years, before returning to Australia.

Mike took us through an afternoon of intensive training in communication, engagement and listening skills. These skills are valuable not just for our AVA leadership roles, but in a range of professional and personal situations, and communication and collaboration will be critical in creating an environment that can support change and ongoing improvement.

One thing is clear. Our success in realising our vision for AVA’s digital future depends on far more than investment in technology. We need vision and commitment, collaboration
and consensus. The key lies with all of our leaders, how we work together, talk together and guide ourselves through change.

Graham Catt, Chief Executive Officer

This article appeared in the Australian Veterinary Journal: Aust Vet J 2018;96(3):N6

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