A coherent system is focused and coordinated on rigorously implementing a few key priorities. Leaders at all levels of the system create and support the conditions and structures that enable a focused, collaborative, integrated approach to improvement within their own agencies and across sectors. They must also call attention to the existing system’s assumptions, power structures and institutionalized inequities that are barriers to building shared vision, purpose and collaboration.
In the ideal state leaders will:
- Establish Few Priorities: Leaders build a shared vision and identify, plan for, model and measure the relentless pursuit of a small number of clearly-defined priorities. They lead by identifying when there are distractors, inefficiencies or too many priorities, and by helping others say no to or reduce work that doesn’t align to the core priorities. By prioritizing rigorously, they obsess on doing fewer things better.
- Model Collaboration: Leaders at every level create a culture of collaboration: they model collaboration, build the discipline and time for it within their agencies and departments and expect it of their colleagues. They maximize the opportunity for impact by identifying critical interdependencies between the priorities and initiatives and supporting team members to execute. They can differentiate between instances where communication and/or coordination are more powerful than collaboration, while also maintaining an organizational culture rooted in collaboration.
- Remove Obstacles: Leaders understand and are able to address structural barriers, tools and processes that allow fragmentation to persist. They actively focus on effective management needed to execute on key priorities, rather than execute solely for compliance. They actively discourage territorialism and competition in support of collaboration and they continually support and hold accountable others to effectively and efficiently use their time in service of the few priorities.