Why It Matters
On the recent Global Chapter Network call, we discussed how Chapters can set themselves up for success and carve out meaningful experiences for their leaders.
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Planning for Leadership Transitions in Your Open School Chapter

By Zoe Mahoney | Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Open School knows that Chapter leadership transitions can be stressful, so on the recent Global Chapter Network call, we discussed how Chapters can set themselves up for success and carve out meaningful experiences for their leaders.

Did you miss it? Not to worry! You can listen to the recording of the call here, or read on for a quick overview. We’ve compiled a list of key questions and recommendations on the topic, shared by fellow Chapter Leaders. Each Chapter is unique, but we hope the following will be helpful to your Chapter as you recruit and engage new leaders.

Q: When should Chapters start to plan for the next leadership team handoff?

Right now! Begin to think about and plan for new Chapter Leadership from the moment you take on your leadership role. What does this look like? Make sure you continue to build and refine your role description. You should also record and recognize potential knowledge gaps, important stakeholder relationships and information, basic processes, and solutions and challenges you’ve tested or experienced during your time in the role that will help the next leader start strong.

Q: What can Chapters do now to ensure a smooth leadership transition?

Start by establishing a clear leadership structure. Chapters choose to set up their leadership structure in a variety of ways, and we’ve highlighted several in the Open School Chapter Leader Toolkit (see page 9). From there, be sure to use one of your first meetings together to establish a clear timeline for recruitment, onboarding, and leadership hand-offs in the year to come. It never hurts to plan ahead!

Q: What does it mean to have a strong, sustainable Chapter?

We mentioned the importance of a leadership structure above. To ensure the success and organization of your team, be sure to intentionally build standard work, define leaders’ roles and responsibilities within that structure, and set norms for communication across the team and Chapter (how often and in what way you communicate). Make sure resources and norms are accessible — many Chapters use a system of live records (like Google Drive) that allow contacts, meeting minutes, event topics and agendas, and other useful records to remain up to date.

As long-term members of an institution, Faculty Advisors are important Chapter stakeholders. They’re a great source of institutional and Chapter knowledge, and can serve as important advocates and advisors for a Chapter’s efforts. Be sure to leverage your Faculty Advisor, setting up recurring meetings and processes for keeping Faculty Advisors in the loop on project work and long-term Chapter aims. Professional Chapters may benefit from having a senior-level advisor who can bring broader organizational knowledge.

It’s also important to have intentional, interprofessional recruitment efforts. Recruit from a variety of years and disciplines — this will allow you to pull new leaders from a more diverse group when the time comes and have contacts for the different part of your organization. We’ll be hosting a Chapter Network call on recruitment on Monday, August 20 —  add it to your calendar here.

A unifying vision for your Chapter, which includes clear Chapter aims, a mission statement, and short-term goals for how you will achieve them, can help unify a Chapter in their work together. Take the time to brainstorm not only where you want to take your Chapter in the next year, but also in years to come.

We recommend creating a Chapter charter like this one to help you get started!

Q: When and how often does leadership transition?

For professional Chapters, leadership most likely will not change as frequently as in a university. At universities, it is far more vital to have a time period defined for each role, clear expectations, and exact dates the new leader will commit to. For example, a Chapter may choose to have each leader commit to leading for the full academic year from September to May, or the full calendar year from May to May.

Consider when the best time for this transition to take place is. New leaders might want to start training and shadowing current leaders before they leave. When does your academic year end? When do new residents start to get onboarded? When are staff trainings scheduled? Make sure you’re aware of each leader’s year, discipline, or professional development plan. Use this as a guiding timeframe to ensure new leadership is fully set up for success by the time current leadership steps down.

Q: What is the process for leadership transitions?

Set out a plan for how your Chapter will introduce new leaders to the work. Some Chapters start this process a full year before the transition to allow ample time for training for incoming leaders. For example, many new leaders are required to take OS 101: Introduction to the IHI Open School or complete the Basic Certificate in Quality & Safety before starting. If taking a full year to train new leaders does not fit with your Chapter’s structure, try taking at least one to three months to train the new leader before the previous one transitions out.

One-to-one meetings are a good way to kick-off the hand off between leaders. Formal transition meetings, one-to-ones, and on-the-job trainings are all useful tools for transferring information to new leaders. During her one-to-ones, Jennifer Mandelbaum, a leader at the University of South Carolina, makes sure to discuss various logistics, university requirements, and the Open School’s expectations for Chapters.

Be sure there is at least one meeting where old and new leaders overlap — hold time to set new norms for how you’ll work together, review roles, and learn more about each other and why each of you got involved. The Purdue University Chapter always has the new leadership teams plan the last meeting of the academic year to give them the experience while still under the guidance of the old team. Consider the “see one, do one, teach one” method.

Q: How should Chapters alert the IHI Open School to the change in their leadership team?

Share your leadership transition with us through this short form or email us directly at openschool@ihi.org. We’ll track these changes in our database and email list, so that your Chapter can continue to receive important updates and shared learning from across the network. Additionally, the Open School and the Global Chapter Leaders are happy to set up introductory conversations with new leaders to welcome them to the Chapter Network, and answer any questions they might have!

Zoe Mahoney is a Project Assistant for the IHI Open School.

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