Organizational Development: A Key Driver to Strategic Performance

Gina Romero Hernandez

Vice President & Chief Learning Officer at Montefiore Health System

Learning Objectives

This presentation will share Gina’s perspective on the value of Organizational Development as a key driver to strategic performance and she will talk about some initiatives/applications you can implement in your practice. As VP and CLO for Montefiore Medical System, Gina will focus on current initiatives and environmental pressures impacting the healthcare industry. As the healthcare industry continues to be redefined by technology, consumer engagement, affordability, and of course, “a national pandemic” the practice of organizational development will be a key driver in how we influence alignment between business, people, adaptive change, and the sustainable outcomes and success that will be achieved when fully integrated.

Key Takeaways:

  • Review at a high level how integrated and applied organizational development practices act as a key pillar to sustainable organizational performance and success across multiple industries and business sectors

  • Describe our Integrated Talent Management Framework

  • Share a few tools and applied OD initiatives implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. Focus will be on racism—the endemic virus that has elevated along with the novel COVID-19 Pandemic

"The first imperative, build effective partnerships."

Gina Romero Hernandez

Vice President & Chief Learning Officer at Montefiore Health System


In the next 30 minutes, I’m going to share my perspective on the value of organizational development based on years of experience in both corporate america amongst the top 100 companies by revenue, right proudly served for over 15 years and large non-profit within the medical healthcare industry in the US, where I’ve served for the past decade in executive roles as Chief Learning Officer and talent and organization development.

Hi, my name is Gina Romero Hernandez. I am a mother, a wife, a Christian, and a lifelong learner, originally from Puerto Rico, where I spent my early childhood before moving into the mainland United States, where I spent the rest of my adolescence and adult years. I began my career in healthcare, practicing as a licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, and had the opportunity to serve clients in in-patient hospital settings, schools, government, and city-run organizations, as well as in private practice. Fascinated with the field of Psychology and a passion for serving, I expanded my career focus from working with individuals to organizations with my personal mission to help people explore and achieve their fullest potential. Combining behavioral science as a key driver to traditional organizational pillars that focus on structure, governance, and processes, to name a few, I found success in the integrated systematic approach that encompasses the applied and evidence based organizational development practice.

As the healthcare industry continues to be redefined, driven by technology, consumer engagement, affordability, and of course—it goes without mention—a national pandemic. The practice of organizational development will be a key driver in how we influence alignment between business people and adaptive change, and the sustainable outcomes and successes that will be achieved when fully integrated.

Today, I serve as the Vice President and Chief Learning Officer of Montefiore Medical Center, a premier academic medical center and the primary teaching hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. We’re one of the 50 largest employers in New York. In 2020, we were ranked number 6 New York City Metropolitan Area Hospitals by US News and World Reports. Montefiore established the first Department of Social Medicine and the first home health care agency in the United States. Montefiore is an organization with a clever purpose: to heal, to teach, to discover, and to advance the health of the communities we serve.

In 2004, we made international headlines when a series of operations successfully separated conjoined twins, Carl and Clarence Aguirre of the Philippines. Today, our health system consists of 11 hospitals, a primary and specialty care network of more than 180 locations across Westchester County, the lower Hudson Valley in the Bronx.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, our Moses division became one of the first designated COVID centers. Our associates and medical care teams are on the front line of COVID-19 treating patients, preventing spread, innovating solutions, and providing a model for health care systems around the nation. How do integrated applied organizational development Practice Act as key pillars to sustainable organizational performance and success across multiple industries and business sectors? Why don’t we start with defining organizational development. Organizational Development is a system wide application and transfer of behavioral science knowledge to the planned development, improvement and reinforcement of the strategies, structures and processes that lead to organizational effectiveness. In essence, we use scientific study and inquiry to gain a better understanding of how best to manage systematic changes within the organization.

The focus of this talk will be on elevating organizational development as a key driver for strategic performance. It is not my intent to get into the theoretical constructs and components that define OD, rather, I will be focusing more on the application, specifically some of the organizational development initiatives and programs my team and I have rolled out this past year in response to the needs of the organization. I hope that you’ll find at least one takeaway from our time spent together that can be easily implemented or that sparks an interest in the fundamentals or practice with an organizational development.

Why do I find the practice of Organizational Development to be so important to business success? Think about that for a second. Organizational Development aligns organizational strategy with people’s capability and culture in real time change. Change that is executed gradually, and in the moment, agile, if you will, resulting in sustained performance and the achievement of strategic outcomes. Today’s world is characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity—VUCA, as described by Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in the late 1980s. Organizational Development is the means to that end.

Now, allow me to funnel this concept of Organizational Development down into an applied example. On the screen is our integrated talent management framework. The Learning Network is the name of our function I lead, that is the icon on the left side of the slide. We are in the process of rebranding, so that name may be altered as we adapt to the growing and expanding health system, and the learning network function as a whole. I’ve been leading this team for the past five years. Since then, we’ve expanded the scope of our services and programs significantly.

Let’s start with the left part of the framework, where we start with knowing your business. It’s critical that you have the basic and foundational, even expert information around what your mission, your vision, and values are for that organization. What is the organization at its core? Then, to really focus around the business challenges that you may be able to anticipate, and sometimes even those that we don’t, because that’s how we determine readiness, key strategic priorities that define where we want to be in the short term, as well as in the long term. Once you have a clear roadmap of where the organization is going and what the fabric of that organization is, it’s time to start thinking about your capability, your talent. Knowing your talent is about knowing the strengths, the abilities of the organization today, as well as knowing what those gaps might be. It’s important to understand here, what some of the risks of loss might be, and what the impact for the strategic objectives might be if we lose some of that key talent.

As we continue to move forward in the framework, we start to think about growing your talent. We understand that, at times, we’re going to have to bring in people externally who bring skills that we need today. For others, we want to make sure that we’re continuing to develop that talent that we currently have in place. That’s where we implement programs like training or academies or stretch assignments are growth in opportunities. We then continue to ensure that we have an engaging culture and engaging environment where everyone can perform at their best. In healthcare, we have a term that everyone should be able to perform at the top of their license. You can’t do that when you’re not engaged and the culture doesn’t support what your job is to do. We then try to really focus on someone’s skills, abilities, and interests as we tried to align a majority part of their job with what the organizational projects and stretch assignments might be.

Retention is going to be key here, as we make this investment in our capabilities and in our talent. How do we ensure that we’re retaining the top talent, as well as everyone else who contributes to the mission of this organization? Like every other program, we also need to ensure that we measure the impact of our outcomes. The last part goes without mention, and that is, how do we contribute to the achievement of the organizational outcomes? As a department, we measure our internal processes and our programs for effectiveness, for efficiency, and even impact. Larger than that, we look at another impact measure where we look at what have our programs and how have they contributed to that business success, or that advancements of the business strategy.

As we move on to the next slide, you will start to see how my department is split into different practices, and those practices is really how we execute the initiatives that we’re trying to roll out in that year, so that we don’t tackle a certain initiative with only training. But yet, how do we implement our coaching practice? How do we implement talent in succession, or even our consulting practice or our process improvement practice to make sure that we’re always delivering quality products and a systemic approach to everything that we’re trying to improve? To ensure that there’s a consistent roadmap or principles, imperative to our culture, our leaders and our associates, we defined a framework consisting of six imperatives that defines specific behaviors, skills, attitudes, and abilities for each individual to be successful at all levels of the organization.

The first, imperative, build effective partnerships. Well, that’s about developing and maintaining lasting relationships throughout the organization, drive results, and achieve outcomes that focuses on effectively accomplishing goals. We transform the future of medicine by seeking continuous improvement with the focus on quality, evidence based practice, and change leadership. We bring to life the Montefiore way, as we hold ourselves and others accountable for living out our mission with vision and values, diversity and inclusion and ethics—our big focus areas within that imperative. We engage the team and develop talent by contributing to a climate where self and others can perform and grow to their fullest potential—that sound familiar?

It is also imperative that we incorporate relevant business principles, practices and skills to achieve high quality outcomes. Looking at the imperative to lead mission through vision, integrity, and ethics, we place a focus on creating an inclusive environment where we leverage diversity. Montefiore has a history for doing more for the Bronx LGBTQ community, and providing leading edge LGBTQ care in our hospitals, community health centers, and specialty clinics. As a function of organization development, we took the lead on ensuring that our internal climate and culture was supportive of our external strategies on our ability to do more for our LGBTQ community of patients, business partners, and internal associates. Through the leadership of one of our change and organizational development consultants, Montefiore has been designated as an LGBTQ healthcare equality leader four years in a row for going beyond the basics when it comes to LGBTQ patient care, and an inclusive workplace environment for associates.

The designation was awarded by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which assesses participants on four criteria: non-discrimination and staff training, patient services and support, employee benefits and policies, and patient and community engagement. As you can see from this slide, activities and programs across the various organizational development practices, work together to execute on the strategic goal of diversity and inclusion. At Montefiore help not only for the LGBTQ community, but in other areas we can discuss in the future in other presentations. Along with being the first health system to participate in the New York City Pride March, Montefiore has established many programs and training opportunities to address the LGBTQ community’s needs, and help employees understand LGBTQ terminology, gender identities, and sexual orientation. Notably, Montefiore is the largest single- site HIV care program in New York State, and has been on the forefront of HIV AIDS care for youth for over 30 years, providing mental health care and support services, as well as trans caring primary care for LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 24.

As one of our consultants has said, Alana Murphy, and I quote her, “Every day, we focus on caring for each patient and associate with respect. We’re happy our efforts have been recognized by the HRC and one of the top healthcare leaders in LGBTQ equality. June is Pride Month around the world and New York City usually leads away with a celebration larger than any other. This year, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the Pride Month activities and engagements were suspended. Members from my team adapted quickly and ensured that we would adequately kick off Pride Month within the current significant and unprecedented constraints. Let’s face it, there are no parades, festivals, those are great things, but as you all know, don’t let the great be the enemy of the good, adapt, and incrementally deliver.” That is an example of what we did. I’d like to share a little something we put together for you

Two viruses at the same time: one, a novel virus COVID-19, the other an endemic virus, Racism. These were the words said by our CEO and President, Dr. Philip Ozuah, who spoke about this explosion of two viruses. When featured as a guest in the Today Show—COVID-19 and Racism. Dr. Ozuah referred to one as novel, the other as endemic. The picture you see here is a face of a campaign that comes from a collaboration between Montefiore and artist Tristan Eaton, that pays tribute to our brave healthcare heroes. A large-scale mural of the image was erected in Manhattan at 34th Street and 8th Avenue. While we, in my department, had absolutely nothing to do with this amazing campaign and artistry, it does depict our organizational commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as honors our healthcare heroes.

Not long after the COVID-19 numbers were spiking, and the pandemic became real, while our brave heroes were fighting the fight against the COVID-19 virus, my office was called with multiple requests for support around the second virus, racism. At the time, the concern was presented to us as a growing concern for our students, associates, and patients in Asian communities. Through the scientific study and inquiry that shapes the practice of organizational development, we immediately talk to people, researched xenophobia, and quickly rolled out a program that would respond to the current racism specific to this situation. With a leader guide and facilitation support as needed, we were able to equip our leaders and workforce with tools that reminded us about our commitment to social justice and diversity. Check it out.

Additional programs and initiatives were put in place by the learning network that I won’t have time to discuss today, such as a playbook for a potential resurgence, a program and website with tools and resources on how to lead in times of crisis, a reintegration to work, intervention for those who went out of the office specifically in non-clinical and some clinical areas. My team led the training and onboarding of over 500 clinicians and agency nurses. Like I said, if there’s an interest in learning more about the programs and initiatives we implemented, reach out to me after the presentation.

As I conclude this talk, I’d like to raise some questions in the hope that it might spark further conversation. It will also serve as a feedback mechanism for me on whether or not you found our time together today is valuable. What tips will you take away from this presentation? What ideas or thoughts were prompted for you as a result of this talk? Organizational Development offers tools to become a more effective leader or HR business partner that you too can adopt in your practice. As a more advanced practice, it truly is a key pillar to sustainable organizational performance and success across multiple industries and business sectors. What’s next? Let’s keep the conversation going. Reach out to me if you’d like to further discuss anything that I shared with you today. Keep the conversation going in this forum and feel free to challenge, contribute, and explore ongoing topics that enhance organizational performance, despite all the VUCA.

Thank you. I know your time is precious. It has been my pleasure to spend this time with you. Be well, Quartz community.

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