Activation of International Facility

"Mayo Clinic has a legacy of international cooperation, and the activation of SSMC and continued work to develop it into an international destination for patients in the region advances our 'Bold. Forward.' 2030 strategy," says G. Anton Decker, MBBCh, president of International for Mayo Clinic. "This is one of many steps Mayo Clinic is taking to meet the needs of patients when, where and how they need us."

To support Mayo Clinic’s strategy to extend its reach internationally, ME&C was engaged to provide consulting services for a medical facility in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).  As a project manager on the SSMC Activation team, I was very excited to be part of this history-making effort.  During the project, we faced many challenges. Strong relationships and teamwork, strengthened by strong leadership support, continuous communication and close coordination enabled the teams to quickly respond to the new challenges, find solutions and achieve success.

An initial challenge was to organize and orchestrate project teams with people from diverse cultures. Building relationships included learning about each other’s cultures, traditions, favorite foods, outside work activities, and most importantly, how to communicate and work together as high performing, virtual teams. Strong teamwork across the geographical separation of several thousand miles and 7-10 hours was enabled by virtual interactions which relied on inter-country networking capabilities and coordination. The resulting teams were highly engaged, energetic and committed to similar organizational values and a common purpose. With an accelerated project pace, the project teams were stretched to move quickly through the stages of team maturation (forming, storming, norming and performing) to be truly high performing.
Project managers know strong and active leadership engagement is instrumental to project success. Early on, the framework, membership and governance structure of the Joint Leadership Team was established. The framework and active engagement were critical to providing timely guidance, decision-making and empowerment of teams to work and make decisions at the local level, escalating issues to leadership level, when needed. Guiding principles established by leadership proved to be critical cornerstones for team discussions and decision-making. Project managers were continuously challenged to work through dynamic situations and adjust milestones, plans, timelines and activities to address situational needs. Of utmost importance was working closely with numerous project teams, external vendors and staff impacted by changes to maintain a well-coordinated plan and approach. Monitoring, measuring and communicating progress against the plans were critical to drive the established timelines.
The ultimate success of the activation, the seamless transition of patients, staff and services from the existing Mafraq facility to the new Sheik Shakhbout Medical Center (SSMC) within a seven-month time frame was achieved. The success was made possible through forming strong relationships, effective team collaboration, the commitment of every team member and a detailed plan with a common purpose of a successful activation with no adverse patient safety issues.