American Cleft Palate - Craniofacial Association

committed to team care…

President’s Letter

Robert J. Havlik, MDAt ACPA's 74th Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs, I shared on our motto – “Committed to Team Care.” Cleft teams represent some of the earliest coordinated teams for patient care with the earliest teams formed during the 1930s. Multi-specialty coordinated care has been widely adopted and viewed as essential today as health care sub-specialization has advanced, and multi-modality therapy has become the therapeutic standard, in everything from cancer care to cardiovascular care. 

In the simplest form, a team is simply a list of names on a sheet of paper. Team members may have their own area of expertise and the team, at its most basic level, provides a patient with a number of different perspectives and expert opinions. Teams serve many roles. They provide coordinated care. They serve as a think tank. They provide education for their members and other students. They can contribute to research and the advancement of knowledge. Ideally, teams should strive for the true academic trifecta of patient care, education, and research.

When we break things down to stark economic terms, to the extent that a team’s output, or work product, exceeds that of work product of the individual members, the team has developed effective synergy. If the work product is less than the output of its components, the team clearly has areas of interferences, limiting team effectiveness, progress and development.

Countless business management books have been written about team management. Two of my recent favorites include: “Give and Take” by Adam Grant and “Team of Teams” by General Stanley McChrystal. Both books share perspectives on what contributes to successful teams.

Grant is an industrial psychologist from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Grant segregates team members into Givers, Matchers, and Takers. Simply put, Givers provide more to a team than they take. They are contributors to overall team function. Takers take much more than they give. The majority of people and team members fall into the category of Matchers – those that both give and take from the team. The core premise of the text is that all three groups – Givers, Takers, and Matchers can all succeed, but that Givers are essential components of a team. They actually may need to be protected to prevent being taken advantage of and from ‘burnout’.

In “Give and Take,” Grant describes the role for successful team formation and argues for the crucial role of Givers. In his detailed psychological research, he has demonstrated that Givers routinely outperform other team members in their accomplishments and their overall success. Truly fascinating – the ultimate win-win.

McChrystal was the leader of Joint Strike Force Operations in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. He was charged with developing an effective response to constant suicide bombing by Al-Qaeda in post-war Iraq. His administrative team consisted of and coordinated elite “Special Ops” teams of SEALS, Rangers and Green Berets to form a winning team in post-war Iraq in 2003-2007. In his best-selling book “Team of Teams,” McChrystal argues that these elite teams develop a shared consciousness, whereby each team member almost intuitively knows what the other is thinking, and has confidence in that opinion. Something I have experienced and I imagine a number of you have as well.

As McChrystal emphatically stresses in “Team of Teams,” teams must react to the surrounding environment to accomplish their goals. Teams can no more afford to be static than individuals can. If the outside world changes the team has to change to remain relevant. How the team adapts to the outside world and adopts change determines its potential for success. McChrystal reconfigured US Special Operations to a networked model of deployment with superior information reconnaissance and technology, and a disseminated decision making process. Teams had nearly instantaneous response capability without the need for review by a chain of command. However, his highly effective restructuring had to change abruptly upon the arrival of a new administration.

We are all part of a larger team as members of the American Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Association. Our Association National Office team has undergone unprecedented change in the past two and a half years. Although many of you do not interact with the central ACPA office on a frequent basis, I hope that when you do, you notice the quality of services and the level of professionalism. Our association continues to move forward through the necessary steady and purposeful development of new policies and procedures. Our Association has provided for the development of online communities and SIGs, or special interest groups, for sub-groups of membership, a significant contribution to membership value in the Association. Together, we have fostered a new arrangement for publishing our journal – a relationship that promises to be a truly win-win venture.

Lastly, but most importantly, we are moving toward a closer alignment with our long-standing partner, the Cleft Palate Foundation. After four years of lengthy consideration, our board of the American Cleft Palate Association and the Cleft Palate Foundation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to undertake a due diligence process for merging the two organizations. This Memorandum of Understanding will allow a process of Due Diligence to take place over the next few months. This is an exciting prospect, enhancing our ability to meet our common goals and do what’s right for affected individuals. This alignment will allow us to better meet our common goals. 

I am honored to join you on this ACPA team, together let’s embrace our powerful and positive future serving those affected by cleft lip and palate and other craniofacial anomalies.