I have mentioned before the pleasure of living in a city like Boston, with its many colleges and universities, and which therefore provides numerous opportunities to interact with students. Whether they are undergraduates or graduate students, they offer the chance to test one's own assumptions and observations in front of a fresh audience. I always learn something and hope that I can impart something useful as well.
I just finished a great conversation with three students in the Boston University MBA program -- Emily Jochim, Emily Mulligan, and Bill Bruce (seen here.)* The three are taking a class on transformational change in the health sector. They have a final group project, which includes a paper and presentation related to change within an organization. They chose to focus on the role of the senior leader in an organization undergoing a merger. In addition to me, they interviewed Charlie Baker, former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care; Elaine Ullian, former CEO of Boston Medical Center; and Tim Murphy, President of Beacon Health Strategies.
I am looking forward to the paper, but I could see that a major conclusion reached already is that a successful merger is more likely when the CEO adopts a policy of transparency and engagement across the organization. It sounds pretty simple, but it is often not done, leaving the merged organization less capable and successful that might otherwise be possible.
* They work at Shire HGT, Tufts Health Plan, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, respectively.