“What would you attempt to do
if you knew you could not fail?”
It was my distinct honor to serve as Chair of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Board of Regents from 2012 to 2014 with Mark C.
Weissler, MD, FACS, as the Vice-Chair. The two
Presidents who served during that time are A.
Brent Eastman, MD, FACS, FRCSEd(Hon) (2012–
2013), followed by Carlos A. Pellegrini, MD, FACS,
FRCSI(Hon) (2013–2014). Together the Officers;
Board of Regents; Board of Governors; ACS Executive Director David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS; and
the staff and volunteers of the ACS accomplished a
great deal of work.
At its quarterly meetings, the Board of Regents continued to follow the format changes that J. David Richardson, MD, FACS, had introduced as Chair of the
Board of Regents (2011–2012). A key change that Dr.
Richardson had implemented was to devote each meeting primarily to one or two key areas of the College,
with brief updates from the other division directors
and program chairs.
During my first term, six new Regents joined us
(all MD, FACS): John L. D. Atkinson, a neurosurgeon
from Rochester, MN; Henri R. Ford, a pediatric surgeon from Los Angeles, CA; Enrique Hernandez, a
gynecological oncologist from Philadelphia, PA; L.
Scott Levin, an orthopaedic surgeon from Philadelphia, PA; Beth H. Sutton, a general surgeon from
Wichita Falls, TX; and Steven D. Wexler, a colorectal
surgeon from Weston, FL. One new Regent joined us
for the 2013–2014 term—James Gigantelli, MD, FACS,
an ophthalmologist from Omaha, NE. The energy
emanating from this new group of surgical leaders
helped us realize that the Board was ready to move
quickly in a direction marked by enhanced involvement with current and future members of the ACS.
To help the Board of Regents develop fresh approaches
to working with the membership and to encourage
other surgeons to join the College, we enlisted the services of Jeffrey DeGraff, Ph D, professor of management
and organizations, Ross School of Business, University
of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dr. DeGraff worked previously with Dr. Hoyt and the College’s Performance
Improvement (PI) team to reenergize and refocus the
ACS staff, assisting in the development of the ACS Values of Professionalism, Excellence, Inclusion, Innovation, and Introspection. His research focuses on leading
innovation, and he has written several books on the
topic, including Creativity at Work: Developing the Right
Practices to Make Innovation Happen and Leading Innovation: How to Jumpstart Your Company’s Growth Engine.
The Regents agreed to participate in a strategic planning retreat led by Dr. DeGraff. While preparing for
this program, I recalled a question my son once asked
me when he was younger: “Mom—why would you ever
retreat? You should never retreat; you should always
march forward!” Keeping that admonition in mind,
our “retreat” in July 2014 at the ACS headquarters in
Chicago, IL, focused on moving the College forward.
The leaders of the Board of Governors, Young Fellows
Association, and the Resident and Associate Society
attended, along with the ACS Executive Staff.
Innovation though introspection
Dr. DeGraff spoke about the new role of innovation
and creativity in fostering change in health care and
the need for us all to be creative as leaders to help solve
the problems facing the profession. He explained that
we use different approaches to solving problems. We
can lead as collaborators and lead groups of stakeholders toward meaningful and lasting change. Collaborative activities are usually value-driven. We can