Getting Better All the Time:
Learning From Your Successes and Challenges
By James F. Gesualdi
To keep ahead, each one of us, no matter what our task, must search for new and better methods—for even that which we now do well must be done better tomorrow.
—James F. Bell
Never stop until your good becomes better, and your better becomes the best.
Our lives and work with animals and other people call us to bring forth more good into this world. One underappreciated way to do just that is to take our good works and make them better, better, better.
There are abundant lessons each moment and in every circumstance. Difficulties encountered continuously accelerate achievement and growth through and even beyond the adversity. Sometimes the value of such hard-earned experience overshadows the utility of making more of your successes via deeper examination. Two meaningful examples of zoological organization accomplishments illustrate the difference made possible when you learn from your successes.
Animal Welfare Act Compliance
Maintaining compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the starting point of demonstrating your commitment to the animals entrusted to your care. A good U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Animal Care inspection report is laudable. Even better is a record of continuous compliance with the AWA. As noted in Excellence Beyond Compliance, "[e]ven with a clean inspection report, constructive review of the inspection experience may lead to potential enhancements in various areas, including those related to AWA compliance and animal welfare." Zoological organizations that practice Excellence Beyond Compliance® have put this into effect in different ways.
One zoological organization, no matter how successful the inspection, always prepares a post-inspection punch list of new measures and improvements. Thoughtful review of the entire inspection process, such as the dialogue during the inspection and exit briefing, and staff observations, yield many worthwhile ideas. This practice has transformed this organization and made their improvement plans living documents.
Another organization discovered its positive inspection experience, involving a good inspection report, was attributable in large part to visible signs of great progress and the staff's adept handling of the inspection. Further discussions revealed that some of the challenges arising and resolved during the inspection indicated there was still work to do in the area of interdepartmental coordination. A more intensive team debriefing inspired further enhancements.
These organizations, which have had their challenges, now challenge themselves and are "Getting Better All the Time" through earnest effort in the service of animals.
Zoological organizations rightly tout the professional distinction of being accredited. Standards and guidelines in excess of legal requirements and the accreditation process contribute to the professionalism of the zoological community and advance animal care and welfare. Attaining and maintaining accreditation is important and it is an especially effective source of critical self-examination and betterment upon re-accreditation every five years.
Preparation for the accreditation process illuminates areas where we understand we can be better. Accreditation reviews and site visits provide external validation of good works and constructive insight as to avenues for improvement. Upon accreditation, celebrate and recognize all the team members contributing to the moment. Then, examine the lessons emanating from the process, identify possible enhancements, and consider areas where you could set the bar higher still. Commit to working daily to astonish your next accreditation inspection team with the incremental improvements compounded over the next five years. Solidify your "culture of excellence" and exclaim to the world that there is no ending point to your efforts in service of animals and their welfare.
Enlightened zoological professionals and zoological organizations live Van Gogh's statement, "I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart." They realize achievements like maintaining regulatory compliance and attaining accreditation are important foundational pieces to create a better world for animals and people. Even those accomplishments teach us how to grow into our higher selves.
Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
© 2016 James F. Gesualdi, P.C. The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author. This is not, nor should it be construed as, legal advice.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share the good you are doing (as only you can), or with any comments or questions on this column or suggestions for future ones.
For upcoming workshops and sessions, contact email@example.com.
Meet James at the AZA Conference
James F. Gesualdi will be at the AZA Annual Conference in San Diego—at times at the Academy's booth, and at the Academy's event on September 10, too. We are very pleased to have James contribute to our Academy newsletter. Thank you, James!
Something Fishy Is Going On
By Dr. Rob Jones, "The Aquarium Vet"
The Aquarium Vet will be at the AZA Annual Conference in San Diego and attending the Academy's event on September 10. We are very pleased to have The Aquarium Vet contribute to our Academy newsletter. Thank you, Rob!
The Aquarium Vet will be at Booth #234 in the Exhibit Hall. Please be sure to look for Rob there, and at the Academy event, too.
E-quarist™ Courses—Academy Subscriber Special!
The San Diego Zoo Global Academy is excited to share an additional Academy subscriber benefit regarding our collaboration with Dr. Jones: as an Academy subscriber, you are now entitled to a discount on the e-quarist™ courses.
For more information about the SDZGA discount, or to view our Trial Version, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the Aquarium Vet website at theaquariumvet.com.au.