College of American Pathologists
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  President’s Desk


cap today



April 2006
Where strategy meets intuition

Thomas M. Sodeman, MD

The Feb. 17 issue of Science features research from the department of psychology at the University of Amsterdam that confirms what many have long suspected: Sometimes we think too much.

Dijksterhuis and colleagues came up with the “deliberation-without-attention” hypothesis and tested it to illuminate the roles of conscious and unconscious thought in consumer purchasing choices. The more complex the decision, they found, the more useful it was to gather a reasonable amount of data and let the unconscious do the rest.

When I heard about the study, I had been thinking a lot about two member-satisfaction perspectives in my strategic plan for the CAP, one that said we would establish the College as the professional society of choice for pathologists and another that said we would further the ability of all members to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from the College and its programs. To those ends, we had created a new Council on Membership and Professional Development and two new committees reporting to it, one to focus on member benefits and a second on member development. We had also given to the council, to be chaired by Kevin B. Dole, MD, responsibility for the Practice Management Committee and Public Affairs Committee.

For me, the top three benefits of CAP membership are a highly effective advocacy arm, state-of-the-art continuing medical education, and access to services, such as cancer protocols and laboratory accreditation, that help with my ability to practice. Are my priorities, and those of other CAP leaders, consistent with those of a newly graduated resident, someone in pure research, or someone in a small community hospital in the mountain states? We need to find out.

My first impulse was to approach it all analytically—compiling a list of all that we do and letting it lead me to new ideas about where we could do better. The could-do-better list, I reasoned, would tell us how to help more members feel welcome to become more involved and persuade more nonmembers to join.

After reading about the study in Science, though, I started to think that no list would be more useful than our members’ intuition about what they value most and would appreciate most.

More than one in five of our 15,000 members are active in the College. If you are one of them, I’m preaching to the choir, but I’m preaching to the choir because I need your help. If you are a member but have never felt comfortable about becoming more active, I need your help even more.

I’d like to invite you to join me in a test of the Danish researchers’ theory. Read my list in the box at the center of this page. Then don’t think about it for a few days. Sleep on it; let it run in the background. Then, please write to me at the e-mail address at the bottom of this column. Tell me where you believe we’re getting it right and where we’re falling short. What would encourage you to become more involved? What might persuade your nonmember colleagues to join the CAP? Tell me what your intuition tells you about where we should direct our energies.

There could be surprises at the intersection of strategy and intuition. I’d like to think so. I promise to report what I learn and what we plan to do about it.

Dr. Sodeman welcomes communication from CAP members. Write to him at

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