Association 100 Podcast Interview With CLSI’s CEO, Barb Jones
CLSI’s CEO, Barb Jones, PhD, sat down with Association 100 (A100) Podcast host, Megan Henning, to talk about her role as CLSI’s CEO, how she sees AI impacting the standards setting process, and the unique challenges and opportunities of overseeing a fully remote workforce.
The A100 podcast is an extension of Association 100 bimonthly newsletter, with a focus on best practices, top trends, helpful ideas, and smart strategies and tactics that work in the world of associations. The podcast features meaningful conversations with association leaders across the country, taking a deeper dive into trending topics and offering insights that both inform and inspire.
Barb spoke about her new role as CEO of Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI), and how she has navigated the challenge of managing change within a well-established association.
“What a labor of love! There have only been three CEOs of the organization in its entire 56-year history and I’m only the third. To be honest with you, it’s been really easy. And I’ll tell you why. When you have a legacy organization, the mission’s built. It’s strong, it’s structured, people know it even without being able to articulate it.
“At the same time, change can be challenging, and change management needs to be proactive. When somebody [new] comes in, it’s change—big change. The CEO before me was fantastic—17 years. And so there was a lot of nervousness. I started very easy, by helping everyone understand why I value the mission, how I saw their jobs fitting into the mission, and then—as we grew their jobs, and grew what they were doing and changed some things from the past—always pointing it back to the mission. If you’re not utilizing everybody’s connection to your mission, you’re wasting your greatest tool.”
When asked about how she sees artificial intelligence (AI) impacting the standards setting process in the clinical and laboratory domain, Barb said, “CLSI is a membership organization, but we’re also a publishing company. And the publishing industry is, I think, going to be the hardest hit with AI. In the standards realm, it’s particularly important because much of what we capture through the consensus process, that give and take of the standards development process, is coming to a determination through experience of one person and the different experiences of another person to [get to] a best practice. It happens in the moment.
“The most practiced laboratorians that are determining best practices for certain blood draw techniques, for example, have been doing it for years and understand and know from experience, and have never written it down [until the standards development process]. So, no AI tool is going to get that. However, the hard part of standards—literature reviews, putting things in an outline form—those kinds of things, that’s the hard part for humans to get over and start writing something, start doing this. I think AI can be a tool that we can use.”
After elaborating, Barb concluded, “There are challenges, but there are also opportunities that come from [AI]. [We can’t] just say we’re either all in or were all out. Those two extremes usually don’t work well anyway. As typical of our organization, we seek the guidance of experts. We’re fools if we turn our back on it. Anyone that’s embracing [AI] has got a leg up.”
On overseeing a fully remote workforce: “I believe very strongly that we have the technology, and we can seize the moment in our history and make something good out of the pandemic. I think that we absolutely need to embrace the challenges that are there. One challenge to being fully remote is that we don’t know each other. We don’t know what each other’s talents are. We don’t know where each other’s dreams lie, and we’re really struggling with that and making a conscious effort to try and understand each other and understand where people’s dreams and goals are. We do things like little activities [to get to know one another] in our all-hands meetings. And it helps! If you as a manager, as a leader, are not putting the effort into that, it’s going to show in your workforce.”
You can listen to the full episode of the A100 podcast and more of Barb’s insights here.