Nothing endures but change
"Change is often difficult, sometimes welcome, always
For the past 8 years or so, our practice has used the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI; Center for Applications of Psychological Type, Gainesville, Florida) to facilitate better communication within our office and with our clients. I liked it so much I was a bit fanatical and even became a certified trainer for MBTI. One thing I have learned in my experiences of introducing MBTI as a communication tool for my own employees, farm employees, and other veterinary clinics is the predictable but polar reaction to change by the various personality types. Some types welcome and even thrive on change, while others avoid and even dread change.
Being one who thrives on change, I have had to learn that change for the sake of change is probably not going to be a consensus builder with the majority of any group, even though it may seem like a good idea to me at the time. On the other hand, the recent best-seller Who Moved My Cheese?1 by Spencer Johnson, MD, has become a cultural phenomenon. Its simple story of Hem, Haw, Sniff, and Scruffy so eloquently reminds us "Change, or die." So how does one know when to change in order to stay 'cutting edge', or when to maintain for the sake of tradition and continuity?
Agriculture by nature is nearly synonymous with change. It changes with the seasons and changes over time to apply new technologies to feed our ever-growing population. If you play your cards right, change can be quite advantageous. The carrot industry is a good example. In the late 80's, it was a floundering industry: US consumption was only 8 lb per capita and declining. Americans no longer desired the taste of canned carrots and fresh carrots were too much hassle. With the introduction of ready-to-eat baby cut carrots, the per capita consumption shot to 12 lb per capita by 1998 and is still rising.2 Other food items have followed suit. We are now seeing the popularity of pre-made salads in a bag and precooked bacon.
The AASV, being a professional organization tightly tied to agriculture, is no stranger to change. In 2000, we adopted our new mission statement and changed our name from the American Association of Swine Practitioners to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, as we felt "AASV" better fit the ever-expanding roles that veterinarians are filling in the swine industry.
This year we are going to implement another change. We are going to change the format of our Monday night awards banquet held at our annual meeting. Having the meeting in Orlando instead of the Midwest is quite a change in itself, but not a first. As I have mentioned in previous editorials, we hope that all members will come, honor our award winners, and enjoy the camaraderie on Monday evening. Since banquet attendance has been falling off the past few years, we also have to take a realistic look at our format and make changes to meet the needs of our broad membership. Look around. We are no longer the tightly knit group of veterinarians that built the strong foundation of this organization so many years ago. In 1969, 30 veterinarians met in Minneapolis for the first annual AASP meeting in conjunction with the AVMA's annual meeting. The meeting was called by Dr John Herrick, president-elect of the AVMA (Roy Schultz, oral communication, October 2002). Since then, we have expanded to a more diversified group of veterinarians from around the world. We span at least three different generations and 19 countries. For many of the early members, the annual banquet is like a family reunion. Others, however, may find camaraderie in different settings within the framework of the annual meeting. The AASV Board of Directors recognizes the need for change.
This year, we plan to invite all meeting attendees and their guests to the first annual AASV Monday Night Awards Reception. Festivities will include food and drink in a more relaxed setting with an abbreviated program, while preserving the fine tradition of recognizing our award winners. We are anxious to try this new format and see how it fits with the current wants and needs of our members.
I'll close with this thought on change:
"Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better."3
Dr Sibbel, our 2003 Program Chairperson, has been busy putting together a great program, so I am confident I will see you having a positive experience in Orlando!
(ENTP, for those who know)
1. Johnson S. Who Moved My Cheese? New York, NY: Putnam; 1999.
2. Lee M. Carrot kingdom sprouts in Horse Heaven Hills. Tri-City Herald. September 24, 1999.
3. Whitney K Jr, President Personnel Laboratory Inc. Quoted by: The Wall Street Journal. June 7, 1967.