Words From Chris
“If you cannot know the future, quietly do the next and most necessary thing.” – Dr. C.G. Jung
We’ve spoken previously to the fact that the amalgamation of our four existing oral health colleges is a step wise process – and in itself, it is simply a step on the path to modernization.
The key to completion of the project, however, lies with the Ministry of Health finishing the legislative work necessary to facilitate the formal creation of the new oral health college. This includes and is underpinned by the consideration and determination of a name for the new organization and the formal date for amalgamation.
The difficulty for all of us at this stage is the uncertainty of and the dependence on the Ministry’s critical path – the formal steps that require government involvement and approval. In turn, this lack of a confirmed timeline has translated into our inability to answer one of the biggest questions, namely “when will this happen?”.
Uncertainty is a constant in every one of our lives — we all live with an inability at times to clearly see or predict the future. When that clarity seems beyond our grasp, the best way forward is always in simply taking the next right step – doing the next necessary thing.
This is exactly where we are within the amalgamation project. With the Ministry’s timeline critical to answering the questions of ‘when,’ we are all experiencing a lack of certainty, of frustration and anxiety. And that’s okay. We know the path forward is to simply take that next step.
I have asked the project team to identify areas where we can begin to harmonize our existing regulatory and support functions, independent of the Ministry’s timeline, as we move forward to the first day of the new organization.
By involving all our staff teams in the validation, documenting, testing, and training of the regulatory and support functions determined in the design phase of the project, we can realize the strength that we have together, regardless of when formal amalgamation happens. This is how we maintain control: create certainty.
This next right thing will take us one step closer to realizing the goal of harnessing our collective expertise to improve health outcomes by ensuring safe oral health care for all the patients who engage the services of the great professionals we regulate. Formal amalgamation is really just a point in time on a continuum. We can begin the harmonization of our functions right away and will continue our pursuit of becoming that aspirational modernized regulator well past the day we are formally amalgamated.
Interim Organizational Design
The purpose or mandate of any organization will always be the starting point for its structure. Form must follow function. In our case, our purpose, and our common goal, is to protect the public.
We are working with an external consultant, Cheryl Mitchell, to continue development of an organizational design that will best support each of the new college’s functions. Cheryl has worked extensively across the public sector with a primary focus on health system design. She is a faculty member at the University of Victoria Gustavson School of Business, where she is the Academic Director of the MBA graduate program teaching courses on collaboration, design thinking and innovation.
We anticipate that we’ll have more to share on the status of the organizational design shortly.
Staff Roles and Involvement
As we move forward, the goal is for all staff to feel informed and engaged, and results of efforts will be measured by surveying staff on an ongoing basis.
The first all-college staff survey (Jan 2022) provided a baseline as we move forward in the amalgamation process, identified opportunities to support a smooth transition to the new college – including opportunities to increase staff knowledge about, and confidence in:
- the vision, plans and impacts for amalgamation
- what is/will be expected of you
- how you will be supported throughout the transition
Based on the opportunities identified above, we have developed goals for improvement; specifically, we are aiming for at least 95% agreement with statements that measure these factors. This is critical both for project success, and to ensure a good experience for all members of the staff team.
Our goal now is to close the gap between where we are and where we want to be. We’ll continue to measure our progress, with another staff survey planned for late April. Please continue to provide feedback and ask questions – this will guide our efforts to reach our goals.
Now that the validation workshops are underway, staff from across the four colleges are contributing to the plans for implementing the new college. More information about the validation workshops can be found under Operations > Interim Operating Model.
Overall, the validation workshops allow an exciting opportunity to identify areas for improvement in our processes that will support us as we move toward becoming a strong, unified regulator.
We are in the process of identifying the training requirements for any new systems or processes that may be rolled out in the coming months. We will be looking for opportunities to combine efforts, in order to minimize the impact on everyone’s workload, while still ensuring people are ready when systems “go live”.
Communications and Engagement
Now that we are in the implementation phase of the project, there is more information to share. For this reason, we have significantly ramped up our communication and engagement efforts for stakeholders. Two recent examples:
- For staff: We recently developed a staff engagement plan, which will guide and inform our engagement activities with all college staff throughout the amalgamation process. This plan includes all-college staff meetings (every three weeks), website updates, e-newsletters, surveys, engagement meetings (small group meetings amongst staff currently underway), relationship building and more.
- For registrants: Last month, we launched a registrant newsletter about the project, with links to a dedicated section of the project website.
As we move forward, we will begin engaging with the public to build awareness of the new regulator and our role in ensuring safe and competent oral health care for British Columbians.
The new oral health regulator will need a new identity! In addition to new a name, we will need a logo, colour palette and “tone of voice/personality” that reflect who we are to those we interact with. Strong branding helps communicate the promise an organization makes to its stakeholders – the images, font style, colours, taglines, and overall presentation of physical items work together to tell a story about its products, services, values, and approach to doing business.
While our common mandate to ensure safe oral health care for patients and the public will not change, we will want our registrants, patients and the public to know that working together as one regulatory body we are stronger, more efficient, and modern in our approach and delivery.
To get us started, we have created an interim palette of colours and font styles that we will use in our initial communications about the amalgamation project. This “interim brand” reflects the values and attributes each of the colleges has in common, based on research and consultation with external stakeholders, staff and leadership.
You can see a bit of this branding in the format of this newsletter, and you will have seen more of it if you’ve watched the “explainer” video that was recently posted to our new internal website.
The project team has developed a “website lite” for the new regulator that will be launched in tandem with Day 1. This site will introduce the new entity and some shared sections, and provides access to the sites and content users are familiar with. Core content has been developed and work is underway to build the necessary backend.
The interim brand is not intended to be permanent, but it will serve as a foundation to inform the future brand. Once we have a strategic plan in place for the new college, we will want to review the values and attributes needed to support its delivery, and ensure these are reflected in our brand.
The first board of the new oral health college will be appointed by the Ministry of Health and will include 12 members, of which 50 per cent will be public members. Board candidate recommendations are currently with the Crown Agencies and Board Resourcing Office, which will assist the Minister in making the appointments.
All committee members of the four partner colleges recently received an invitation to apply to be committee members at the new oral health college. There will be three types of committees: regulatory, professional standard and board.
The committee application process was designed to be as seamless as possible, with the intent that as many committee members as possible could serve on a committee of the amalgamated college to ensure stability and continuity throughout the transition to a new college. All committee members are required to meet eligibility criteria, and must declare any conflicts of interest, open complaints and more.
By the time the application process closed, 110 committee members had submitted their applications. Staff are now collecting declarations of interest and CVs (resumes) from the applicants.
Committee applicants will receive more information when it becomes available, including the proposed committee structure, terms of reference, and committee member compensation. We also anticipate holding an orientation session for all committee members of the new oral health regulator.
The draft bylaws for the new college were written to align the four colleges’ current bylaws. They reflect our intent to modernize oral health regulation in BC, within the framework of the Health Professions Act.
- Board size: a 12-member board that is 50 per cent public
- Annual meeting: incorporation of meaningful two-way engagement with the public and registrants
- Delegation and authorization: enhanced ability of people working in an inter-professional team-based environment to make decisions that support team-based practice
The Transition Steering Committee (TSC) reviewed and provided feedback on most draft bylaw parts at their last meeting on March 3. The remaining parts will be submitted to the TSC for review for their next meeting on March 17. We have met regularly with Ministry staff to engage them in the bylaw drafting process and will continue to do so until the bylaws are ready for public notification and comment.
Interim Operating Model
At the February 23 staff meeting, staff heard about our modernization journey and how the interim operating model (IOM) is just one step toward the journey of becoming a modernized regulator. The purpose of creating an IOM was to “stand up” a unified college, and following steps included outlining functions across all four colleges, which meant developing a map of our functions.
Functional Design Map
The integrated project team has mapped out the functions necessary to operate an interim college. This map outlines the functions each of the legacy colleges has and organizes them into regulatory and non-regulatory operational areas. Another way to think about this is that the functional design is about what we do, whereas an organizational chart is about who does it and how.
View the functional design map below:
The organizational chart (currently under development) will support the functional design by identifying the people structure that will support organizational functions.
Next steps include conducting workshops with a cross-section of subject matter experts to review existing processes and how they will support the proposed design.
Note: More information on how the functional design and organizational chart work together is available in the People > Organizational Design section of the project website.
Validation workshops underway
Validation is a step that is used by project managers between the phases of complex projects. It involves reviewing progress made to date and confirms (or “validates”) that the project can proceed to the next step. In the design phase of the project (Sept – Dec 2021) there were specific workstream leaders who worked on various aspects of the amalgamated college.
Now that we are in the implementation phase, we are holding validation workshops made up of a mix of subject matter experts from all four legacy colleges. Workshops have been organized in alignment with the functions identified in the functional design map.
These workshops allow participants the opportunity to review current processes in order to validate what works and make recommendations for areas or processes that may not work. Many of the subject matter experts participating in the workshops are individuals who are involved in hands-on work within each functional area (e.g. governance, registration, quality assurance). This cross-college engagement has been hugely valuable and has identified several gaps in processes or areas for improvement.
Some of the things we have heard from the workshops so far include:
- Interest in keeping dialogue going and engaging on an ongoing basis to review and tweak processes
- A real desire to “fix things” – participants recognize this opportunity to take part in simplifying processes can have a great impact on registrants and the public
- Staff are enthusiastic about building a strong, unified college
The workshops began on February 22 and are expected to wrap up by mid-March. The input from our staff will inform the next level of planning, including how and when implementation will occur, policy, guideline and training needs, and more.
Much work is underway to ensure we’re all able to work efficiently when we’re one organization and there’s a smooth transition for registrants, patients, and the public. We’ll need a common website and new email addresses, a new phone number and shared phone system, shared access to databases and a common virtual workspace.