EDITOR’S LETTER : DHB Directors Diagnosed

Health is big business. In political and economic terms, they don’t come much bigger. And large, complex businesses, such as those governed by New Zealand’s District Health Boards, need the very best direction. The model on which our DHBs’ selection of directors is based has, quite simply, failed to deliver and too many DHBs have too many underperforming board members.
Health Minister Tony Ryall is bent on changing things. He wants the $10 billion the DHBs receive from Government and spend on our health services, delivering better results. Jens Mueller, an expert on health sector governance, and I joined forces this month to bring you diagnosis of the problems lurking in the nation’s health sector boardrooms and the Minister’s remedy for dealing with the root causes of the illness. 
His priority, he says, is not so much to cut expenditure but to deliver significantly better service outcome for the dollars spent. That in itself would contribute economically. More people leading healthier lives or patched up more effectively and expeditiously, is as good as dollars saved. The moral of the story for magazine like NZ Management is, however, that without competent and skilled governance, organisations, large and complex ones in particular, can’t perform and in turn, become an enormous drain on the economy and society at large.
There are other equally profound management and leadership lessons to be learned in this issue, on the pages of The Director, which is included this month, and throughout the magazine. Lessons such as those learned by business consultant Bruce Gilkison who worked in the Solomon Islands and who found an alarming parallel that ended up with the loss of 74 lives on the Tongan ferry Princess Ashika. Turn to page 41 for that.

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