OHA Health Achieve 2008 – thoughts from day 1

by Hans on 2008/11/04

I had the privilege of attending the opening session of this year’s OHA Health Achieve, one of the world’s "premier health care events". As always, the event was packed and the speakers didn’t disappoint. Here is a quick recap with some comments.

Opening Session
After some opening remarks from the OHA Board Chair, the convention was officially started with a plaing of the national anthem. The video montage was a bit over the top and seemed like it was produced in the 1970s/1980s with shots of landscape, wildlife, winter, people in stereo-typical "Canadian" garb. Because of the instrumental embellishments, the audience didn’t participate in singing as they did in the past. Question: what’s wrong with a simple version of the national anthem?

Wendy Messley was the moderator for the morning and she did a very good job. She opened with some very humorous remarks and got the audience in a good mood. It’s too bad that she doesn’t have more opportunity to ad-lib in her role on CBC’s W5 news programming. She seems like she would be a very good interviewer.

Speaker 1: Retired Gen. Rick Hillier
Gen. Hillier was not quite what I expected. Actually, he was a great speaker and reminded me very much of Colin Powell. Perhaps not as sophisticated and polished as Powell, but Gen. Hillier definitely exuded charisma in a distinctly Canadian (if not Newfoundland/folksy) way. Hillier spoke about the Canadian Armed Forces and the role of leadeship. He walked us through the different roles and provided examples and stories to back-up his point. What I found most compelling was how articulate and passionate he was. He is definitely a very good speaker.

Hillier’s main message was that leadership is all about people, and that organizations need to invest in its people in order to be successful. He started by explaining how leaders must communicate directly, honestly, and with sincerity. Coupled with communication is the need to equip people appropriately to achieve success. One very interesting point Hillier raised was the need to achieve the "Vimy Effect". Vimy Ridge is a defining moment in Canada’s, and Canada’s armed forces, history. The goal is to identify such pivotal events to bring people together and to inspire them, and thus the "Vimy Effect". Hillier also talked about the role of strategic corporals who are both the official and unofficial leaders wtihin an organization that step-up to ensure success of the organization. This topic led to the idea of selecting and creating special teams from existing members. He finished with the idea of maintaining and establishing a constant supply of people, first by investing in the people that you have (i.e., creating leaders), and second by being aggressive in recruiting people for the future.

Speaker 2: Rt. Hon. Jean Chretien
Mr. Chretien was a bit of a jolt, but in a good way. His principle message about leadership is as follows:

Trust the people you have to do the work. Let them do their job. If they fail, fire them.

He shared this information and drew a laugh, but he re-iterated the last point multiple times. What was most interesting was the stories he shared from his 40 years of political experience. Some of the stories included his relations with the Clintons, George W. Bush, and other world leaders.

Closing Thoughts:
As always, the opening session was very enjoyable with the speakers being of high quality. The session was quite patriotic in nature and espoused how great Canada is, and in particular, how great the health care system is. While I don’t necessarily disagree that Canada is great, I wonder if thinking the health care system is awesome is such a great thing. Perhaps I’m a bit cynical, but healthy questioning is always a good thing. Maybe OHA Health Achieve is more of a celebration rather than an event to be critical and examine. But, that’s a discussion for another time.

Here are some links to write-ups of my past experiences at OHA Health Achieve:

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Allen Taylor November 4, 2008 at 6:31 pm

Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

Allen Taylor

Valium January 25, 2011 at 11:22 am

It’s hard to search out knowledgeable people on this subject, but you sound like you recognize what you’re speaking about! Thanks

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