June 29, 2020
Summer 2020 is upon us. I think it’s safe to say, thus far – amidst the landscape of COVID-19 and racial injustice protests – this year has been one of the most unusual and challenging times we’ve ever experienced as individuals, an institution and as a nation.
As of today, all of our campuses remain in Phase 2; telework is strongly encouraged for all non-critical personnel, and in-person instruction is not allowed except for essential clinical instruction that has been pre-approved. Events and gatherings of more than five people are not permitted. We’re still wearing masks when we can’t physically distance six feet apart from our friends and coworkers. We’re still washing our hands like surgeons. Across the UW, units are tasked with adapting to new processes and practices. 2020 has ignited something inside each of us that commands our attention in new ways. Change influences our behaviors, challenges our beliefs and impacts our habits and practices. The conversations bubbling all around are about change, leaning in to learn new concepts and transforming our minds so we think and act differently.
Some say they love change while others resist the very thought. How we adapt to change — whether we see it as a threat or an opportunity to transform and grow — is something we can control. Our ability to use change as a catalyst for progress is what makes us human.
“It takes a deep commitment to change and an even deeper commitment to grow.” Ralph Ellison
Change can make us feel anxious because it creates unpredictability. Our ordered lives are jeopardized and we fear the unknown.
Sometimes we can rally, and our own positive talk can be helpful in creating a change in attitude. This is an area we can control. And when we can have a say in the changes coming our way, we don’t feel so anxious. The journey forward isn’t so mysterious.
In my role leading the UW Finance Transformation (UWFT) program, I often find myself taking a step back, seeking a broader understanding of the asks for change around this multi-year program. The resilience I witness daily from my colleagues here at the UW is what gives me hope in our collective future more broadly, and confidence when it comes to UWFT. Without a doubt, the transformation of our finance infrastructure is about real and lasting change that will help sustain the University’s future and mission. Together we’re pushing ourselves to think differently and rapidly. We’ll be tasked with learning to identify what to let go of, what must remain and where a little bit of both makes the most sense. We may encounter some storms along the way of our shared journey. It’s going to be hard work, both frustrating and illuminating.
Yet, I firmly believe there is opportunity within change. As a collective, we can face the storms together and take them head on as one. Transformation, once we have clarity and are aware of the benefits, allows us to shift our thinking and create better long-term outcomes.
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Maya Angelou
As much as possible, we want to offer spaces and places for your voices to be heard. We all have perspectives on the journey ahead but collectively, we will determine the best solution. My hope is that each of you feel engaged and understood, and that you have the resources necessary to move forward throughout this multi-year effort. We’re committed to sharing and going through these changes together. May you have a safe journey through the summer ahead.