The house helped doctors. That was its only purpose.
Over time, caretakers of the house found that friendship with power helped doctors. Soon the house was full of courtiers, with the doors closed. And soon after that, the doors stayed closed all the time.
The magnificent doors came to represent the whole building. They protected the building. It was their fiduciary duty.
Today, the OMA is on fire. Politicians lit the fire. But once the fire started, those in charge of the OMA ignored the smoke. In fact, many say that the caretakers could have prevented the fire altogether, if they had spent less time wringing their hands and courting power.
Many groups of doctors have come to help with the blaze. Some want to tear down the house, but most want to rescue the building.
The magnificent doors, locked for years now, need to be breached to fight the blaze. The historic society insists the doors were hung democratically and in accordance with the bylaws. Without the doors, anyone could walk in and take over.
The doors, in many ways, are the OMA house. Without the doors, the house might cease to exist to others in power. We must not touch the doors, especially not now!
Let us focus on the cause of the fire. We must put our energy into fighting the villains who caused the fire. The fire is not the issue.
The past Presidents have come to the rescue of the Executive Committee. They gloss over performance and insist that the Exec stands on a solid, democratic process.
Every year, each member of the Executive stands for election.
Every year, the whole Board reviews the performance of each Executive member.
And every year, the Board can throw out a scoundrel, if one ever exists.
Never mind the fact that the Board has never thrown out anyone from the Executive procession. Past Presidents who polish the patina of democracy completely miss the point:
The Exec stands as a magnificent governance structure that blocks rescue efforts. It exists despite governance experts saying that it should not.
Elections for the Executive committee do not change the fact that the Exec must be radically changed and shrunk.
If the OMA ever hopes to function well, the Exec must change. The Board must modernize.
The OMA is in flames, and rescue begins with renovating the Board, starting with the Exec.
Board Serves the OMA, not Doctors?
A number of seasoned Board members have lectured me, and many others, in conversation and personal emails, that the Board exists to protect the OMA.
The Board does not exist to serve members. It exists to serve and protect the OMA. If a decision looks good for the OMA, but not for members, the Board must put priority on what is good for the OMA.
This nonsense might explain why the OMA has rankled doctors recently. Like all nonsense, it takes more time to correct than the gibberish deserves.
The Board existing to serve the OMA, before members, is like saying that those who row a lifeboat exist to maintain the integrity of the lifeboat, before saving drowning sailors. We must not compromise the lifeboat. The boat is sailors’ only hope!
Or it’s like saying that those who oversee a storehouse of food, during a famine, exist to keep the food safe, never mind the starving people. We must keep the stores dry and sound. The wailing people must not distract us from protecting the food!
The Board of the OMA exists to govern the OMA, which exists to serve members. There is no reality in which the OMA can stop serving members: first, foremost and in all things.
To be clear, ‘serving members’ means doing what is good for members, as defined by members. Serving members means adding value for members.
If the OMA stops serving members, it has lost any reason to exist. A Board that protects an OMA that does not serve members has lost the right to govern.
Any Board that puts the health of the OMA before the OMA’s mission to serve members has completely lost sight of why it is there.
(See Glenn Tecker’s comment, governance expert, below. Brilliant!)
The Board must serve members, die trying, or resign.
Barrier vs Portal
The Exec stands resolute, like magnificent doors, while the OMA burns. Doctors do not want this to happen.
The Board knows what needs to be done but insists that things are not that bad. They say that it’s only 25 members of council calling the meeting.
Never mind that member satisfaction has never been so low.
Never mind that 5 different MD groups oppose the OMA.
Never mind that most doctors would leave the OMA, en masse, if they were allowed.
The Board must let members help put out the fire. This Special Meeting of Council is just one fire brigade.
The Board sees the meeting as a band of villains at the gate. They are not. They are the volunteer fire department that has come to help the Board do what the Board could not do on its own.
The Board needs to remember why the OMA was built in 1880. The OMA exists to serve members. That’s it. Let’s hope doctors can put out the fire before there’s nothing left of the OMA.