In the late 18th century, Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz said, “Our knowledge of circumstances has increased, but our uncertainty, instead of having diminished, has only increased. The reason of this is that we do not gain all our experience at once, but by degrees; so our determinations continue to be assailed incessantly by fresh experience; and the mind, if we may use the expression, must always be under arms.”
While the work of the ACR is far different than the work of an 18th century Prussian military force, and basic tenets ring true. Strategic thinking and planning has been a recipe for success for the ACR for more than a quarter of a century. Our vision statement in 2010 was, “To enhance the value and impact of rheumatology in a changing healthcare environment.” Indeed, the “changing healthcare environment” has been a moving target, and we have been “assailed incessantly” by those changes.
Planning for ACR’s Future
Late in 2012, we convened a task force to develop the strategic plan for 2013–2016, to strategically think about how best to represent our members moving into the future. ACR Board of Directors (BOD) members Will Harvey, MD, and Sharad Lakhanpal, MD, led us through a process to identify and address the critical needs of the membership and of the field of rheumatology. There was broad agreement that the plan would need to focus on what the ACR must offer and/or change to remain relevant to our members, while taking a proactive approach in addressing the never-ending changes to healthcare. The 22-member Strategic Planning Task Force (SPTF) was constituted to represent the diversity of ACR membership, including leadership, practice setting, research activity, pediatrics, health professionals, age, and gender. ACR staff members also contributed in the development of the plan. The SPTF considered a wealth of information, including a broad survey of the membership, recommendations from committee chairs, an SPTF survey, the report of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Academic Rheumatology, and the report from the 2020 Task Force.