I’m the new Executive Director of a program that was purchased a couple years ago by a healthcare corporation. Each month Corporate sends us a stack of reports on efficiency and productivity. My staff and I go over them carefully but we can’t seem to make them very relevant to our operations. What am I supposed to do with all this information? It doesn’t bring in more patients or help me get additional staff to treat the patients I already have.”

Yes, I’m familiar with those stacks of reports. It can make your heart sink a little to see them on your desk or computer screen in the morning. You’re probably expected to read them in detail and even to respond to questions about the data in the report, or provide written justifications for variances.

That can be time-consuming, especially if you’re not sure how it’s helping – as you apparently aren’t.

My guess is that the reports and the data they contain aren’t primarily for your benefit. They’re needed by somebody up at Corporate. In Finance, for example, or Human Resources, or for the Operations people. Part of a system of accountability that is supposed to keep the organization as a whole on track to achieve its financial and operational goals — through systematic monitoring of its component parts.

Your program is a component part. Resistance is futile (I’m just kidding).

Getting absorbed by a larger organization is an adjustment for any standalone program. Some adjustments are easier than others. I think ultimately it comes down to culture – how well has your institutional culture adapted to that of the organization that now owns the program? Depending on the answer, you’ll find yourself having to bridge the gap between the two.

The best advice I can give: Your task isn’t just to run a successful program. It’s to run a successful program in the context of the larger organization.

As you’ve no doubt figured out, it’s not exactly the same thing.