Myron Rogers, who is assisting UAMS’ efforts to win a second NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award, leads a meeting of researchers.
Near the end of a 4-hour meeting, about 30 researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and Arkansas Children's Hospital were so engrossed in their small-group sessions that it took the meeting’s facilitator, Myron Rogers, a few attempts to regain their attention.
Asked to offer instant feedback, Jonathan Dranoff, M.D., a physician scientist, summarized: “People here are passionate about improving the system.”
As UAMS prepares its case for a second five-year Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), the research community is playing a critical role. The $19.9 million CTSA from the National Institutes of Health supports the UAMS Translational Research Institute, whose mission is to help accelerate research that will improve the health and health care of people in Arkansas and across the country.
The CTSA application calls for improving research efficiency, fostering collaborations across disciplines and ultimately improving health and health care. While the application doesn’t tell UAMS or the 59 other CTSAs how to achieve this, it’s clear that systemic change is expected. It won’t be easy, and it won’t come by fiat, said Rogers, who since 1990 has led large-scale strategic change efforts in the private and public sectors throughout the world.
“Culture eats strategy,” he said. “Eats it for lunch.”
Rogers, who is assisting UAMS’ efforts to meet the challenges of the RFA, is co-author of the best-selling "A Simpler Way" and has worked with the U.S. Army, school systems, Fortune 500 companies and health care systems in England and Europe.
“About 90 percent of my work involves the movement from fragmented systems to systems that are integrated across disciplines and focusing on outcomes of those they serve,” he said.
Retained in March by the Translational Research Institute, Rogers has met with dozens of UAMS faculty and staff. His qualitative work found that the research system is not designed for integration that focuses on outcomes.
“Collaboration is really not an institutional value,” he said, noting tenure-related disincentives and obstacles to working across boundaries within policies and procedures. “The system is designed to promote individual excellence, and yet, serious collaboration goes on. As in every organization, there are some who will do whatever is necessary to work around those institutional barriers.”
Rogers cautioned the group not to judge harshly those who are operating safely within the confines of the existing system.
“Building a shared view is the place to start change,” he said. “By putting people together in the right process and asking the right questions, it gives them the opportunity to create this future together.”
Greer Sullivan, M.D., TRI’s co-director and co-PI for the CTSA, encouraged the researchers to inform their colleagues about the effort, which will continue at least through the summer.
“We want everyone to be involved,” Rogers said. “It’s an open process.”