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Members first

March 03, 2014

Helping all members succeed: Dr. Hilton Israelson, 15th District trustee and chair of ADA Board's Strategic Planning Steering Committee, explains the Members First 2020 plan at the stakeholders meeting in February. The plan is expected to be finalized this month.
The national, state and local associations that form the ADA must be better coordinated if they are to succeed in their shared mission to serve the member dentist, first and foremost.

Strengthening dentistry's three-part structure—making it a cohesive system of parts working together—was central to a discussion held Feb. 14-15 at ADA headquarters.

This stakeholders meeting brought together leaders from all three parts of the ADA to explore the "Power of Three"—an approach to member service that requires the national, state and local associations to complement one another. It also ties into the ADA's next strategic plan, a work in progress titled Members First 2020.

"We are talking about members as our main objective—helping our members succeed throughout their careers," ADA President Charles H. Norman said in welcoming the group to Chicago on a blustery winter's day.

He talked about delivering valued programs and services all across the three parts of the Association "so that our members will want to continue to be members" because of the benefits they reap from belonging.

Leaders on hand appeared to agree that national, state and local associations collectively need a seismic shift in thinking—away from an emphasis on hierarchy and top-down organization and toward an approach that is more collaborative and strongly member-centered.

Michael Gallery, a management consultant who facilitated the discussion and has been working with the leadership for some time now, said he thought local, state and national dental groups have tended to see themselves as separate entities, "a box of parts, rather than a system."

He added, "Success in organized dentistry requires the three levels to work as one system devoted to serving the members."

Early in the meeting, Dr. Hilton Israelson, 15th District trustee and chair of ADA Board's Strategic Planning Steering Committee, walked the group though the current draft of the plan intended to guide Association activities from 2015 through 2020.

Driving the plan, he said, is a mission statement described in just four words: Helping all members succeed. The plan is expected to be finalized in March.

From there, the meeting segued into presentations on five topics affecting all parts of the ADA "system." State and local association executives, working with national association staff, reviewed programs offered at all three levels; revenue and cost sharing; membership market share; branding; and back-office support through a cutting-edge computer system called Aptify.

After a day-two discussion of change management, the group identified certain steps to be taken next on the road to a more responsive, cohesive Association.

The first step, the group agreed, was to establish a small team of leaders to guide the process, ensuring appropriate representation across the ADA under the auspices of the Executive Directors Advisory Committee.

The committee, already in place, includes executives from the state and local associations. With the national organization setting the tone, the group is expected to proceed with various pilot projects involving all parts of the Association.

A report drafted after the stakeholders meeting pledged that the group would learn from the pilot projects, and "celebrate success and correct mistakes" on the path to a stronger, more responsive organization.