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Gill Blog

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Change Management Bottleneck at the CDC

Jo Verde recently sent me the following article that stressed the importance of making management processes in an emergency more efficient. Specifically, it reviews the General Accounting Office's position that the although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has done a commendable job in most respects, it must strive to minimize the degree of overlap in management functions:
"Still, problems remain...For example, the deputy director for Science and Public Health has duties that often duplicate those of the deputy director for Public Health Service. The former is listed as being in charge of agency reports, guidelines and outbreak investigations, while the latter focuses on specific issues such as HIV policies, violence prevention and occupational safety."
In her cover note to me, Jo suggested that what struck her was that this was really a change management issue looking at priorities, processes, systems and practices. She also found it interesting that in the article, there was no mention of the human element being addressed. She is quite correct, in fact there are several firms today whose sole focus is to address the human element of change management.

This should really come as no big suprise, as numerous studies have previously indicated that many firms do not adequately plan for, or even anticipate change. For instance, the results of a study conducted in 2002 and published on indicate that a majority of global Fortune 500 firms neglect this area, and such neglect could prove detrimental over the long haul:
"In a survey that quizzed the top executives of Fortune Global 500 companies, the majority (60 percent) admitted to being less than effective at managing change within the organisation and appeared to be doing little to anticipate or prepare for it.

Change management is an essential process in today's fast moving business world. Companies that do not handle change well face the risk of falling behind their competitors, and in extreme circumstances may see their survival threatened."
As command and management functions play a critical role in uncertain times, innovative techniques are being developed to sharpen and refine the underlying processes. One interesting example of how these areas have physically being tested is demonstrated through the National Preparedness Excercise that took place in May of 2003; the particulars of that excercise are reviewed in this article. By simulating various scenarios, not only were planners able to react to a wide spectrum of disruptive events, they were also forced to streamline their management strategy.

Although much work remains to shore up management processes, it seems things are indeed moving in a positive direction.

Please join the discussion on Change Management.