Relationships Are The Key To Re-Engineering MD Anderson

By

Leonard Zwelling

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/11/opinion/g7-trump-north-korea-kim-jong-un-foreign-policy.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

As David Brooks points out in the NY Times, Donald Trump has re-engineered the politics of the United States and the world. Where once the post-WW II world was one in which our security was based on our willingness to firm up our relationships with our wartime allies and establish new ones with our past enemies in Japan and Germany, Trump seems to gravitate to our sworn enemies who are dictators in their own countries and threats to others. He thumbs his nose at our traditional allies, probably because they, unlike the dictators, cannot cut a deal with him without consulting with their legislatures. Trump is remaking the world and it is a world where wolves prevail and peace- loving lambs may be eaten. It’s the New York real estate business on steroids.

Ron DePinho did the same at MD Anderson when he arrived in 2011. The rumor is that DePinho had a picture he took with Trump in his office and that he admired Trump and his style. No doubt. They are cut from the same cloth and that is piece of burlap.

With DePinho gone (oh, if Trump could suffer the same fate by 2020), Dr. Pisters has the challenge of reforming the MD Anderson Cancer Center in his own image, which is one of considered consideration and decorum. Thank goodness!

But the work has just started.

There are many at Anderson who would still be wolves and use power politics to drive the system in a more lupine direction. Pisters will have to actively resist this by installing those who value relationships over power. I believe that he will do this, but the proof will be in the pudding. There are more than a few aging leaders at Anderson and how Pisters supplants them in time will be determinative. Also, there are leadership holes for Dr. Pisters to plug and I, for one, would like to see an influx of some outside talent to reinvigorate Anderson as was the case in 1983 and later in 1996.

There are many who have been left in their current positions of leadership or who have had their positions rebranded. Some roles have been expanded. The org chart is complex and deep. Whether this plan will translate into good relationships and a solidly run institution will remain in the hands of those who lead and those who should follow.

If they keep their eyes on the relationships, perhaps they will be served as well as the United States has been since 1945 when it first began to lead the world with the strength of its ideas rather than the power of its military.

If Anderson does not choose this route, I fear a Trump-like world descending on 1515, as it has on the civilized world. That would not be good.

Leonard Zwelling