“Change is the law of life. Those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” The U.S. was already two years into a galactic-sized change management exercise aimed at altering how humankind saw its place in the universe when President John F. Kennedy said those wise words.
In 1961, Kennedy focused the attention of the world when he said the U.S. “should commitment itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth." On that fateful spring day in 1961, Kennedy gave everyone listening a vivid picture of the end state of this goal, a man stepping foot on the moon’s desolate dusty gray surface and then returning to again step foot on the warm, brown soil of the Earth. Is there any more of a vivid picture of that success than the Earth rising from the darkness into view, the surface of the moon in the foreground?
A Life of Change
Change has been the law and a constant in Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono’s life. At 6 months old, her family moved from the warm Philippines to frigid Minnesota while her father attended a surgical program. At 7, she once again was able to see the sunset and paint the waters of the Alabang River as her family returned to Manila, her father teaching medical students at the University of Philippines Medical School. Then from those tropical summers of Manila to the snowy winters of Alberta, Canada, and soon to San Antonio breezes, Vice Adm. Bono and her brother learned watching their father, Captain Anatolio B. Cruz, Jr., effectively lead teams of Navy surgeons to heal the wounds of the sailors in his care.
Vice Adm. Bono followed in her father’s footsteps as clinician and leader to become the first woman to graduate with her medical degree from the Navy’s Health Professions Scholarship program. In the early 90s, Vice Adm. Bono battletested her clinical and leadership skills while saving soldiers wounded during Desert Storm as the head of casualty receiving, Fleet Hospital Five, one of the busiest fleet hospitals during the war. These leadership experiences were amongst the experiences that taught Vice Adm. Bono that “service helps define who you are … Part of what gives life meaning is the service you provide to others.”
How Leaders Impact Change
Vice Adm. Bono, a 2018 recipient of the HIMSS Most Influential Women in Health IT Award, views the most important role of leaders as “how you make change happen.” On a recent episode of HIMSS’ STEPS to Value podcast, Vice Adm. Bono shared how those early leadership experiences provided her with a strong foundation. She now draws on this foundation for inspiration as she leads the Military Health System in a number of strategic health information technology initiatives that ensure the health and the readiness of 1.4 million military forces worldwide.
“Early on, as a surgeon, I’m in the [operating room] and I’m working with a team. Even though everyone in the room isn’t technically working for me, we all are working for the same end goal. That has really informed how I see my responsibilities as a leader. How do I create the right kind of environment for everyone to adopt and embrace a common goal, and then create synergy in our efforts to pull in the same direction to accomplish that goal?”
When leading teams through change, Vice Adm. Bono speaks about “being able to paint the picture so the audience, the individual, the group, can actually see themselves in that strategy. Part of their ability to see themselves in that strategy is being able to create a very vivid picture of what that end state would look like, and how they can actually help draw and craft that end state.”
The rate and speed of change from 1961 to today only makes the examples of leaders like President Kennedy and Vice Adm. Bono all the more important to consider for you and your organization.
How are you creating that vivid picture of your hoped-for end state?
How are you creating the right kind of environment for everyone to embrace a common goal?
How are you helping others to draw and craft a shared end state?
Discover these answers and they will help you and your teams navigate the changes ahead.