After all, it was the CEO's idea, as a way to both save money and utilize the talents and institutional knowledge of the people who already worked at St. Joseph's. The strategic services team would not report to a management silo of any kind. Instead, it would lead process improvement teams or other specialized projects identified by the senior leadership team as ideal for a consulting engagement.
Walker, who had control over who came to the team, recruited people with diverse skills in quality, marketing, IT, and clinical analytics, among others.
"Everyone was the master of some skill, and there was not a lot of overlap," she says, adding that "we didn't know what areas we wanted at first."
With so many unknowns, Walker built gradually -- looking for people who had demonstrated a track record of flexibility and success.
"It was not so scientific -- we said we want people who could live with some ambiguity and who [would be] comfortable working on a finance project today and a marketing project tomorrow," she says. "We also wanted people who would be comfortable working under a much different leadership style."
She ended up with a 16-person team that could be deployed SWAT team-style to pressing strategic issues the system was likely to face. That was two years ago.