By Christine Schaefer
As the annual online application is open for volunteers for the 2017 Board of Examiners (until 6 p.m. ET on January 9), we are featuring another interview this week of a Baldrige examiner who has served in recent years. Competitively selected, these volunteers hail from many states, sectors, and professions.
Following is an interview of Jo Ann Henry from Oklahoma, where she is a process consultant for a health care organization, INTEGRIS Health, in Oklahoma City.
She has volunteered for four years for the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. As a senior examiner during the 2016 Baldrige Award process, she led a team for the Independent Review and Consensus Review phases and acted as backup team leader for the Site Visit Review.
1. Would you please share how you first became interested in becoming a Baldrige examiner?
Three years into INTEGRIS Health’s own journey to performance excellence, my former boss, Susan Dragoo, a Baldrige examiner herself, encouraged me to become an examiner. I was a state examiner for two years with the Oklahoma Quality Award Foundation [a member of the Alliance for Performance Excellence network of state and regional Baldrige-based award programs] before applying to be a national examiner.
2. What were your impressions and highlights of your first training [the Examiner Preparation Course]? What have been highlights for you of annual examiner training in subsequent years?
I remember feeling very inadequate at my first training session to be an examiner. There were examiners who had over ten years, and some with over 20 years, of experience as examiners. I couldn’t believe I was at the same table with some of these people; however, they made me feel at ease and I remember them giving me compliments and encouraging me. I made several new friends that day.
Every year since, the highlight of examiner training has been reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones on the same journey. While there is a lot of work involved in the process, the friends you make and the professional development you receive make it worth it.
3. Without naming applicants, of course, would you please share some memorable learning experiences you’ve had as an examiner on Consensus Review teams?
The first Consensus Review team that I had the privilege to be on was pretty amazing. The team leader, Bo Snyder, was phenomenal in bringing the team together. There were people from different backgrounds and with experiences and personalities, so during some discussions it seemed like we might never come to consensus. Yet during Consensus Review, everything seemed to just come together, and the team was able to provide the best feedback report. When you trust the process, it all comes together.
4. Similarly, would you please share some memorable learning experiences you’ve had as an examiner on a site visit?
My first site visit was extremely memorable. When I read the part of the Site Visit Manual that says “Do come prepared for a heavy schedule; expect 14- to 16-hour work days,” I was flabbergasted. I thought they were just exaggerating a little.
Well, every day that week was intense, and 14 to 16 hours was no joke. When I first met my team, there were a few members who I thought might make the week challenging. Nevertheless, by the end of the week, we had all become very close, and we still keep in touch to this day. We had worked together to give the applicant the best feedback report possible. That was a huge accomplishment, and we couldn’t have done it without teamwork (and maybe a few tears).
5. How have you applied learning from your service as a Baldrige examiner to your work in a health care organization?
One of the best lessons learned from my experience as a Baldrige examiner is to ask the tough questions that people forget about in health care. Is our approach systematic? How are we deploying the approach? Are we evaluating the approach and learning? Are we sharing best practices?
As a Baldrige examiner, I am continuously learning what questions we should be asking. As INTEGRIS continues its performance excellence journey using the Baldrige Excellence Framework (and Criteria), it is especially nice to hear when others in the organization start asking those Baldrige questions, too.
6. How do your colleagues/family/friends view your service as a Baldrige examiner?
When I’ve shared with my colleagues, family, and friends the time commitment for being a Baldrige examiner, they definitely thought I was insane. Yet those of us who have been examiners know that once “Baldrige” is in your blood, it is hard to give it up. Despite the time commitment, blood, sweat, and tears … it is one of the best learning experiences and the best professional development one can get!