This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with working IT professionals who are making their mark on industry. In this blog, I interview Lynette Wallach: IT Leader, Senior Analyst who shares her best practices in Health Care IT.
Lynette Wallach started her IT career at Vancouver Coastal Health as a co-op student in early 2000. Since then she has provided technical, process and general knowledge of complex health care systems working on such projects as email migration, Novell migration, Patient Care Information System rollout, and regional login. She has worked with the Vancouver Acute Desktop support team which is responsible for the integrity and reliability of over 5000 desktop computers for acute care and business professionals. She is a source for knowledge of the clinical and technical systems, the environment, and the people who work at Vancouver Coastal Health. Always striving to find efficiencies in the health care system, she is a strong advocate for collaboration and building relationships between people and departments.
The health care system is changing constantly. It is changing more so now with the Shared Services initiatives to amalgamate the health authorities in BC. Lynette recently completed a Masters in Leadership with a focus on health care systems from Royal Roads University. She wrote her thesis on frontline staff engagement in organizational change researching how trust, relationships and engaging frontline staff in major organizational change improves the chance for increased process and spending efficiencies as well as increasing employee morale. The literature supported how trust, relationships and connectedness are essential for the success of organizational change.
Lynette believes that with education comes experience and opportunities for learning. In addition to her MA, she has completed the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation and ITIL Foundation certification. A Business Computer Co-op [CIPS accredited program] graduate from Capilano University, Lynette is also a CIPS (Canadian Information Processing Society) scholarship award recipient.
As noted by Lynette:
"Academics are just a foundation for me. Life experiences are also learning opportunities. Like everyone, I have had many life challenges. It is what I have taken away from these challenges that makes me the person I am today. I believe it is important to stop, look, consider and reflect on experiences. This is how you learn, change and grow. Focus on the positive impacts of these challenges and how they can improve your character and your life."
Lynette's personal strengths are connectedness, adaptability, ideation and futuristic thinking. Realizing how working toward personal strengths gives people energy she believes it is important to learn and to know the strengths in other people in order to make a better system.
"Learning, whether it is academics or life experience, is a continual process throughout my life. Being open to learning and change is what keeps me motivated. Change starts with me and works outward. My goal is to be a positive influence on the people around me and to hopefully inspire others."
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
Can you talk about your education, training, and work experience in healthcare?
"....I provide support for the Acute care environment as a Senior Analyst and I liaise, coordinate and facilitate with vendors, internal IT, business and clinical users. I have had the opportunity to work on many projects as they relate to the desktop, providing quality assurance and compatibility testing. It is a very challenging and dynamic environment to work in...."
What were the biggest three obstacles in your career and how did you overcome them?
"....I would say the three obstacles I personally had are frequent management changes within my department, hierarchy (red tape, politics, competing priorities) and resistance to change...."
Please share your lessons on organization change.
"....My thesis was written on how to make organizational change successful by getting frontline staff involved. Some key themes that came out of the research was that frontline staff involvement in organizational change, relationships, trust, collaboration, team building and engagement creates buy-in, understanding, awareness and improved efficiencies. It's like the collective rather than individualistic or silo approach to change...."
How does creativity play a role in IT?
"....There is definitely a lot of creativity in IT that goes into problem solving, coding and development....We need to pay closer attention to other learning styles and try to incorporate these styles whenever possible...."
What are the value and best practices of communications in leading teams and working in teams?
"....Being able to communicate effectively requires emotional intelligence, self awareness and personal reflection. You have to challenge personal bias and mental models and recognize diversity. Effective communication also involves being open and curious...."
You talked about emotional intelligence, what do you mean by that?
"....Being very self aware of who you are...."
Any time you have any kind of hierarchy what are some of the barriers or challenges that can occur with regards to communication?
"....Oftentimes if you are not at a managerial or executive level you do have to follow a chain of command. The chain of command would create filters...."
What can be done to manage these filters?
"....I would suggest having more collaborative forums or having more exposure to the leaders..."
How do relationships play a role in IT?
"....Research shows that relationships have the capacity to empower people and the organization. Knowledge and productivity are developed with relationships. There is no organization without relationships so they need to be cultivated as much as possible...."
What are your lessons around Systems in Healthcare?
"....The key points of a system are the interdependence and interrelationships between each group or person within the system. Each part of the system is reliant on the other to function...."
You have your PMI certification. What are your top tips for project management as related to the Healthcare industry?
"....I would say develop relationships and teams, challenge the status quo, review lessons learned from other projects and have a comprehensive risk and communications plan...."
You used the term PMBOK - can you define what that means? And getting back to PMI what does that mean?
"....PMI stands for Project Management Institute and is an organization for project managers. PMBOK is the book that the project managers rely on that has contains information about common procedures, common practices and is the foundation of project management...."
You have your ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) certification. What is the value of this education and how do you use it?
"....Having the awareness of having a common language and how even IT people refer to processes and systems differently. We need to make information more readily available than is already the case...."
What is the value of your Masters and how are you using it?
"....The program I took at Royal Roads University was on leadership with a focus on healthcare systems....I can see problems as more of a systems issue that is all related or linked somehow rather than as individual issues....Team building was an important theme with the program....On a personal level....I learned my strengths, my triggers, and how I react. I learned about personal style and how I and others approach things. I learned what is important to me, what my values are and what I would or would not compromise on...."
What lessons can you share from the projects you have worked on in healthcare?
"....Talk to the frontline staff who know the environment....Communicate to the staff, stakeholders and end users....Be persistent....Know the strengths of people on the team as well as the people who may not be on the team but can contribute to the project....Have a comprehensive risk management plan and strategy...."
What are the best job resources for IT professionals?
"....Network as much as possible....Get involved in professional networking organizations such as CIPS or PMI....Create connections through social networking tools such as LinkedIn....Get out with people and make connections wherever possible...."
How do you manage change?
"....You have be open and willing to roll with change....You can't always control change but you can change how you deal with it...."
Please make predictions for the future, their implications, and how business executives and IT professionals can best prepare?
"....There are no certainties in today's economy. You have to be as flexible and open to change as possible. You have to examine your mental models of the world, step back and take a systems view of your environment...."
What do you see as the top challenges facing us today and how do you propose they be solved?
"....Change resistance and culture....Most people are afraid of change or don't know how to deal with it....One aspect of culture is that society needs more people who challenge the status quo....Another challenge of today's culture is an individualistic way of thinking....."
If you were conducting this interview, what three questions would you ask, and then what would be your answers?
"....'How do you find balance in your life?'....'What do you value the most?'....'What are your personal values and how do you ensure you stay true to these values?'...."
Please provide your views on the IFIP IP3 program on professionalizing the profession and how it could improve the healthcare industry? [http://www.IPThree.org]
"....I strongly believe in having standards and an extended knowledge base. The Shared Services amalgamation initiatives of the health authorities are focused on standardization. Having standards reduces duplication of work effort and increases efficiencies. It also decreases spending which benefits the tax payer and the Canadian health care system overall...."