Baseball, Endodontics and Strategic Planning

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.” — Yogi Berra

Over the past several months, the AAE Board of Directors has established new goals for the AAE and put into place an updated strategic plan for our association. So what is a strategic plan? It is a framework used to set the direction in which to move our Association into the future, to communicate our goals to the membership, and to determine the actions needed to achieve those goals. A plan is essential as “a goal without a plan is just a wish.”

In this respect, some analogies can be made with strategic planning and the game of baseball. As each baseball season begins with spring training, expectations and optimism run high as teams develop a plan for the coming year and establish goals to achieve. Managers evaluate their resources and personnel and then implement a plan with a specific strategy to achieve those goals—game by game. Pitching or hitting? Power or speed? Hit and run or sacrifice bunt? Over time, adjustments to the plan often are needed and strategies are improvised to meet the challenges of a new opponent. Occasionally some risk is involved with new approaches or varied strategies. On the horizon lies the team’s strategic objectives to attain by season’s end. With persistence, teamwork and resilience by its players along with a plan, a baseball team will reach its season’s goals and the process will begin again with a new season.

From sports leagues to business markets to professional associations, it is clear that each of these entities will develop and follow a plan, a strategic plan. It is no different with the AAE. Last fall an AAE Strategic Plan was developed as we forged our vision for the future. Strategic goals and strategic priorities were established with the following three priorities identified:

  1. Promoting the importance of retaining natural teeth
  2. Developing a competency standard for quality endodontics
  3. Continuing our global outreach and membership development efforts.

With this plan, we will carry our message to a variety of audiences, including the public, state dental boards, dental insurance companies, other dental professionals, and of course, you, our members. We will attain our goals game by game, audience by audience.

While the Council on Dental Accreditation, the American Dental Association and some predoctoral education programs have listened with indifference to our past efforts, the AAE will remain committed to defining the standards of endodontic care in our efforts to elevate the quality of endodontic care that should be expected and delivered.

At its 2017 annual meeting, the Board approved a white paper focusing on standards for endodontic diagnosis, treatment planning, and prognosis. This is the first step and while it may seem basic in nature, diagnosis is the most critical step in endodontic treatment, as a correct diagnosis allows implementation of the best treatment regimen. An outstanding example of this issue is illustrated in a current thread on the AAE Connection regarding maxillary sinusitis of dental etiology! Our patients, our referring general dentists and our ENT professional colleagues need to recognize and respect the knowledge and skills the endodontist can and should provide in these cases. This same white paper also demands that any practitioner who confronts an endodontic case beyond their capability has one of two ethical choices to make: refer the case to an endodontic specialist or obtain the training to upgrade their skills to a competent level.

A follow-up paper on treatment standards for initial endodontic therapy is under development, and additional special committees have been appointed to address various areas of the strategic plan for the coming year. Over time more details on the AAE strategic plan and our strategic priorities will be outlined and shared with you. Look for a new strategic plan web page at www.aae.org coming next month.

We have our goals and we have our plan. As we evaluate our resources (budgeting, manpower and skill sets) our tactics will be implemented and adjusted. Reflecting back on some sage baseball advice we should remember:

  1. “Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back.” And,
  2. “Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second without taking your foot off first.”

Our game plan is set. Challenges will arise, but our resilience and efforts will persist and we will make progress.