Having held management positions for more than 40 years, I have experienced almost all possible forms of structures, and this, in very different sectors. I have come to the conclusion that the success of an organization depends on factors other than its organizational structure.

Take the case of large successful companies that have several establishments and thousands of employees, for example Saputo or the National Bank. Are these companies centralized or decentralized? Very difficult to answer. Just because thousands of employees have the same employer doesn’t mean the organization is centralized.

Successful organizations know very well that they must take into account regional particularities, such as the job market and competition, when establishing their strategies.

They ensure that certain major policies and information systems are centralized (health and safety policy, payroll, customer file), but they also ensure that certain responsibilities are delegated to the local level, such as the operations, vacation schedules, the handling of certain complaints, outreach to the local community and even salary scales, if necessary.

It is therefore essential that each establishment has a leader who will promote team decision-making while taking into account everyone’s know-how.

This does not, however, prevent employees from doing their job according to the standards dictated by their profession.

These leaders must be visible and accountable.

Can this transformation be achieved by uniting all employees of the same profession in one collective agreement? Yes of course !

VIA Rail is a good example. The unionized company has operations from coast to coast. Rail safety rules are dictated by Transport Canada and customer service policies are established by leaders at the national level, because the objective is that the customer is served the same way across the country, which is not no small task, as can be seen.

All the employees who provide service on board the trains are grouped together in a single collective agreement, which does not prevent schedules, holidays and appointments from being managed locally between the boss and the union representative of this establishment, at the within a framework provided for in the collective agreement. So, is VIA Rail centralized or decentralized?

In fact, it is the will of the two parties at the bargaining table to recognize regional particularities that ensures the establishment of good working conditions and not the multitude of employers and collective agreements. The current situation in the health network with its 136 collective agreements is an example of this.

It is also interesting to note that in some cases, the local leader cannot solve certain problems, because the union representative of the establishment has not received the necessary authority from his Central to solve it.

A structure can promote success if it is based on an appropriate distribution of decision-making between senior leaders and local managers according to the context. This is what will make the difference and therein lies the real challenge of the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé.

To do this, Mr. Dubé will have to appoint senior leaders who will articulate policies that will take into account both global issues and different regional realities, as well as competent local managers who will have the authority to make decisions FOR GOOD. OF THE CUSTOMER (the notion of “patient” is obsolete).

Let’s ask ourselves why some grocery stores in the same chain are in poor condition with little concern for service, while others offer a remarkable experience. Conversely, why do some stores fail to succeed despite the goodwill of the staff there? Why has Target failed to gain a foothold, when Costco is enjoying remarkable success? Is it a structural issue?

The success of the transformation does not really depend on the structure that will be put in place, but rather on a major change in mentality on the part of all stakeholders in the network.