ACR Bulletin

Covering topics relevant to the practice of radiology

Focused, Forward, Together Amidst Volatility, Uncertainty, Chaos and Ambiguity

Incoming BOC Chair seeks direct and clear communication with members to demonstrate the College's value.
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I am very honored to be able to serve as your Board Chair and grateful for being given this opportunity to be a part of the ACR leadership team.

—Alan H. Matsumoto, MD, MA, FACR
May 09, 2024

It is important to acknowledge that we are living in a world filled with volatility, uncertainty, chaos and ambiguity (or VUCA, as the U.S. Army War College termed this confluence of challenges in the 1980s). And healthcare is no stranger to the adverse and disruptive effects of this environment. As such, effective leadership and teamwork matter more than ever.

With this in mind, in my role as Chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors (BOC), I can reassure membership that the College will remain focused and build on the accomplishments of our recent past BOC chairs, Jacqueline A. Bello, MD, FACR, and Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR, while also making sure we sustain the forward-looking strategies of our soon-to-be-retired CEO, William T. Thorwarth, Jr., MD, FACR. Please also know, I believe in the Stockdale paradox: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.” Stated differently, I am filled with optimism, albeit shaped with realistic expectations. Admiral James Stockdale was a survivor of a brutal POW camp during the Vietnam War and his quote relates to how he was able to successfully survive for more than 7 years in that situation.

Given the current healthcare landscape, College leadership wants to ensure that the ACR ship continues to move forward with purpose and in the right direction, making sure we are able to readily adjust our course and adapt when necessary. The College recently made a very difficult and well-thought-out decision to course correct and right-size the organization by reducing its staff by 11% on April 2, 2024. During this upcoming period of adjustment, it will be incumbent upon the ACR BOC, the Council Steering Committee and the ACR Council to work together in a very measured way to ensure that our strategic direction and policies are put forth in a manner that does not overwhelm our current ACR staff, while also ensuring that the College continues to make significant progress and remains headed in the right direction.

My ask of all of you is to tell ACR leadership what we should and need to hear, not what you may think we want to hear.

—Alan H. Matsumoto, MD, MA, FACR

The College will continue to assess its activities and programs and sunset some that are not providing membership a meaningful return on your investment. These efforts will be a bit like cleaning out one’s garage: hard to do, but once done, creating capacity for more contemporary items. This adjustment will provide the College the necessary bandwidth to adapt and initiate new and needed programs to keep pace with the rapidly changing world of healthcare. We also recognize that the College’s new CEO, Dana H. Smetherman, MD, MPH, MBA, FACR, will be assuming her role on July 1, 2024, and we want to provide her the opportunity to bring forth and begin to implement her vision. 

The College interacts within and impacts so many different domains relevant to radiology: patient care, government relations, economics, advocacy, education, research, practice and leadership development, informatics, health equity and outreach, to name a few. The scope of the College’s portfolio is impressive and far-reaching. However, the value of any service is in the eye of the beholder, and it is important for ACR to demonstrate and effectively communicate its value to its membership. 

Clear communication to each of its constituents (membership, policymakers, payers, organizations and patients) continues to be very important for the College. To this end, a quote from John Wooden, former UCLA basketball coach, comes to mind: “Listen if you want to be heard.” Please know that this quote is part of my mantra. By listening well, the College leadership and I can better comprehend what is on the minds of our colleagues and constituents, and information sharing can then be tailored to address specific questions and/or concerns that may arise. As your Board Chair, I commit to listening with intention and without judgment so that communications from ACR leadership will include information that is most helpful to ACR members and constituents — with the goal of addressing what is on your minds. Leadership will do our best to take into consideration the concerns, questions and perspectives from the diverse voices of the College, including, but not limited to, smaller, larger, academic, multispecialty, independent, federated, teleradiology and hybrid practices/groups and employed radiologists, as well as DRs and IRs, nuclear medicine physicians, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and trainees.

In return, my ask of all of you is to tell ACR leadership what we should and need to hear, not what you may think we want to hear — sending emails, completing member surveys and updating profiles, or using Engage. We should always remember that a respectful tone and constructive voice will always be most welcomed. By listening better, communicating more effectively and working together as a team, the impact of what we do will help to drown out the noise from the current volatile, uncertain, chaotic and ambiguous world.

I am very honored to be able to serve as your Board Chair and grateful for being given this opportunity to be a part of the ACR leadership team. I commit that the ACR leadership will be focused in its efforts and not allow volatility, uncertainty, chaos and ambiguity to be disruptive to our mission. We will move forward efficiently and effectively, knowing that if we are not moving forward together, we are moving backwards as an organization. As Thomas Stallkamp, the former CEO of Chrysler Corporation, said, it will be important for us to, “gang up on our problems, rather than ganging up on each other.”

My strong desire is to serve you and the College. If you have any questions, please reach out to me via email.

Author Alan H. Matsumoto,  MD, MA, FACR