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The perennial student

It could be said, quite accurately, that I love to learn. I was a student until the age of 35, by which time I had earned an MD, MSc and PhD. Then at the age of 49 I returned to the classroom to complete a MEng in Management Science. I’m a firm believer that we should continue to learn throughout our lives, whether in the classroom, through books or from one another.

A concept that I find particularly inspiring—known as “the learning organization”—was developed by Peter Senge, a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. It’s an approach that I believe is especially relevant to the success CIUSSS Centre-West Montreal.

Mr. Senge describes his concept as “a group of people who are continually enhancing their capabilities to create what they want to create.” This school of thought not only inspires me, but is something that I’ve tried to integrate into our healthcare network.

When I became President and CEO of our CIUSSS, I gave our Executive Team a list of books that looked very much like a summer reading list. It wasn’t meant as “homework”, but as a means of introducing new ways of thinking and of broadening the way we look at health care. Instead of always trying to solve immediate problems, Senge advises us to strive to make things the way we want them to be.

This type of thinking isn’t limited to high-ranking executives, but is a perspective that I encourage whenever I meet members of staff. I phrase it in the form of an invitation: “If you have an idea on how to improve some aspect of our network, come and see me—and I mean it.” Sometimes the best ideas do not originate at senior management, but spring from sources at all levels throughout our network.

My goal is to impart an ongoing vitality to the curiosity that we felt during our academic careers, and to channel that energy into creating the best possible user experience—all without making it feel like homework.

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