Managing Change Successfully


Dr. Don A. Friedlander

The profession and the environment in which we practise are constantly changing. Changes happen in clinical practice, technology, society, economics, politics, ethics and human resources. Those who represent the profession must anticipate these changes and be prepared to respond quickly when they occur. In other words, to remain relevant in this new world, an association must provide its members with the tools they need to meet the challenge of change and remain successful.

At CDA we have viewed change as an opportunity to evolve by design. We have learned that we cannot attempt to be all things to all people. We have therefore narrowed our focus to those areas our members deem most important. To this end, we have created a community within the profession whose purpose is to scan the environment, understand the facts and their implications for the future, and develop consensus on outcomes to be achieved.

What follows is a partial list of CDA accomplishments and current initiatives that show our ability to deal with change while positioning the profession and our members to achieve success:

  • narrowing our focus to building a strong profession, nurturing a united community and supporting a healthy public
  • working with our partners on public opinion research projects with a view to reinforcing the profession's brand in the areas of trust in dentists and the value of oral health care
  • representing the profession before the Competition Bureau and responding to its study of dentistry
  • preparing the profession for the results of the Canadian Health Measures Survey by positioning dentistry as a source of solutions to the issue of access to care and advocating for oral health care in long-term care facilities for seniors
  • positioning the profession at the forefront on the growing issue of early childhood caries
  • implementing a new knowledge strategy by turning CDA into a knowledge broker, including reengineering JCDA and establishing a greater online presence
  • creating a network of media relations experts and a key issues website to ensure the profession speaks to the media and the public with authority and with one voice
  • responding to over 100 national media requests on key dental issues of public interest
  • creating a pandemic plan in response to the H1N1 virus
  • creating a position statement on the use of fluorides in caries prevention
  • meeting with the prime minister and party leaders to advocate for oral health
  • speaking for the profession to parliamentary committees on tobacco control and extending benefits for self-employed workers
  • promoting oral health in Canadian Health magazine in partnership with the Canadian Medical Association and through a national oral health promotion campaign with Health Canada
  • reducing CDA's budget by almost 30%, making the Association much leaner and more efficient while still being able to maintain or enhance the programs identified as priorities by those we serve
  • ratifying a new membership model, clarifying roles, responsibilities and accountabilities, stabilizing finances, increasing value and ushering in a new era of cooperation and consultation with our partners

CDA had an extremely successful year, and this list demonstrates our capacity to recognize where the world is going, understand what these changes mean to the future of the profession and respond to them by arming our members with the tools they need to be successful.

But we can't stop here. By its very nature, evolution requires constant management and preparation. Our success depends on our willingness to be forward thinking, to look externally and to work well with our partners. We must think even more strategically, so that we may create a future where everyone agrees on where CDA should be headed. I'm proud of what CDA and the profession have accomplished during this past year. I hope that you are equally proud.

Don A. Friedlander, BSc, DDS