There is nothing passive about “sitting” on a board. You take on key responsibilities and activities within Saskatchewan’s health care system when you accept an invitation to be a board member. Boards are accountable for the quality of the care and the stewardship of resources. Boards set the direction for their organizations, creating the mission statement, setting the vision, and then providing advice and counsel to the organization so that the vision can be achieved.
We are all being asked to work and act in different ways as Saskatchewan continues to transform our healthcare system using the philosophy, principles, and tools of Lean. This will be uncomfortable at times no matter who you are within our system. As the chair of the board for Saskatchewan’s Health Quality Council, I’ve personally given a lot of thought to how our Boards can best shape, support and guide the work that needs to be done within our province.
I recently had the chance to learn from Carolyn Corvi, Chair of the Board for Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. Board members from Saskatchewan’s regional health authorities and agencies were all invited to participate in an interactive teleconference with this leader. Ms Corvi freely shared many of the lessons she had learned over the years as she worked with Boeing as a Vice President and General Manager, and then as Board Chair for Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.
The key messages I heard from Ms Corvi were her personal commitment to her organization, the need to educate and involve the board, particularly through board members going to the gemba — where the work actually gets done — and the need for the board to help the organization develop and nurture resiliency: this is some of the most difficult yet important work that will requires time, energy, and focus.
I encourage you to read this transcript of our conversation with Ms. Corvi: What does Lean mean for RHA board members in Saskatchewan? A conversation with Carolyn Corvi, Board Chair of Virginia Mason Health System