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HANK Fall 2012

From the Desk of Henrietta: 180 Flavors Later

A friend of mine with a heart flutter had to spend a day in a Kaiser Permanente emergency room recently, and he asked one of the staff members helping him, “Are you in a unit-based team?”

“Oh, yeah,” the staff member said, without much enthusiasm. “We have one of those.”

The exchange may not have been altogether surprising, but it underscores the work that still lies ahead for those of us who believe—as I suspect most readers of this column do—that partnership and unit-based teams are the right way to do business.

Naysayers nurture the old arguments. Partnership means management caving in to the unions or, conversely, partnership means unions selling out to management. Some people just sit on the fence, dismissing partnership as a “flavor of the month” and apparently hoping that if they ignore it long enough, it will go away.

Fifteen years after the Labor Management Partnership’s founding agreement was signed—at 12 flavors a year, that would be 180 flavors later—what’s a partnership advocate to do?

Spread the word. Do what you’ve been doing: Acknowledge the challenges of working in partnership, and cite the considerable achievements being piled up by UBTs. And here’s one more: Do what you can to support the increasing LMP focus on sponsorship, which is the subject of this issue’s cover article and companion stories.

Active sponsors are an essential component of a high-performing team’s makeup—and active sponsors serve as bridges between teams. They are positioned to spread effective practices up, down and sideways. Looking back after another 15 years, we may see that active sponsors were the partnership ingredient that finally turned LMP doubters into players. 

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