Nov ’11 Newsletter: “An Audit or a Root Canal…what’s your pleasure?”
Since I just finished having a root canal 3 hours ago, this question isn’t as crazy as it may initially seem. Sitting in an endodontist’s (specialty dentist) chair for nearly two hours, shot full of Novacaine (a great discovery, by they way), my mind tended to wander. I prefer the subject of my DoubleCheck™ Monthly Newsletters to be topical and I realized this personal experience offered an interesting opportunity to consider the similarities between the two experiences from the perspectives of the patient (auditee) and specialist dentist (auditor). We’ll start with the experience I know best;
1. Anticipation: Both audits and root canals tend to be procedures that are planned and scheduled, but all “patients” should remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (and usually less painful). Neither is an event we wish to experience, but we know trying to avoid it will only lead to more dire consequences later. But your mind does tend to imagine the worst as you wait for the appointed day.
2. Expectation: Neither a root canal patient or an auditee expects anything good to come from their experience. The goal is avoid anything bad that might result from it. We don’t want to suffer any pain, repeat procedures, denied insurance coverage (eg. your boss doesn’t protect you) or other ill effects. We just want it to be over with and forgotten by everyone.
3. Experience: As you go through the actual experience (root canal or audit), you begin to realize that much of the anticipation and expectation was all in your head, rather than based on facts. You have heard the horror stories from other people; maybe had a bad experience previously (as I had). But once you relax and let the experts do their job, you will typically find the experience painless and uneventful. Of course, both events go even smoother if the professionals involved have a good set of current generation tools at their disposal.
4. Aftermath: In my case, the Novacaine has now worn off and I have no residual pain or discomfort. Same is true for most auditees (except their numbness might be derived from other sources). If you follow directions, answer the experts’ questions, relax in the chair and recognize their goal is not to cause you pain, you should come out just fine.
1. Anticipation: Dentists (and auditors) do this all day, every day. There is no sense of anticipation or excitement; they are just doing their job. But most (the good ones) recognize the concerns and sometimes dread that the patient (auditee) has for this process. They try to take this emotional component of the process into account, realizing that their job will go smoother and faster if the person they are working with is inclined to be cooperative.
2. Expectation: A dentist expects to find a tooth needing a nerve removed to avoid chronic inflammation and infection. An auditor expects to find NOTHING that requires removal (material deficiency) or is causing chronic inflammation (non-operating Key Controls). In this matter, their expectations do diverge. However, both types of professionals are trained to recognize and deal with any exigent circumstances uncovered during their planned activities. So, let them do their job.
3. Experience: For both the dentist and the auditor, the actual experience usually goes according to the general plan. However, there is always something they discover during their routine activities that requires some adjustment, extra effort or re-consideration. If they don’t make a big deal about the new information, the patient/auditee will usually not even realize that something is different or even amiss. After all, the dentist/auditor is the person who knows what the plan was, not the patient/auditee, right?
4. Aftermath: When the procedure is completed, the specialty dentist gives the patient near-term instructions (pain meds, etc.), provides before/after X-rays for the patient’s regular dentist and goes on to the next patient. Similarly, an auditor provides the auditee near-term instructions (eg. we are going to re-test some Key Controls), notifies Audit Management and Process Owners of any key findings; then go on to the next audit. For both, it is all in a day’s work.
So, what are the lessons we can learn from my personal experiences today?
1. Letting a problem fester without correction can lead to a more acute problem requiring more drastic measures. Usually more costly and generally avoidable.
2. Don’t imagine the worst outcome; you might make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.
3. Trained professionals are usually working with your best interests at heart; there is no upside for them to do otherwise. Help them help you.
4. Don’t minimize the angst and emotions the patient/auditee may be feeling; numbers aren’t always the only things that need counting.
I hope to offer a different (and less personal) perspective for our December Newsletter. In the meantime, we at DoubleCheck™ wish all our clients and friends in the U.S. and Canada who have served their country a well-deserved Veterans Day/Remembrance Day this Friday, 11/11/11.
Director of Marketing & Business Development
Atlanta, GA USA