Published 12/1/2015
Brenda Frederick

ORS Sets Strategic Direction for the Future

New mission, vision refine organizational focus

Job applicants are frequently asked, "Where do you want to be in 5 years?" Although that question may be easily answered by a young resident or researcher, it can be challenging for an organization that recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.

During a 2-day meeting held at the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) business office last April, the ORS Board of Directors, several invited guests, and ORS staff faced the issue head-on. They looked at current trends in the field of musculoskeletal research, challenges facing ORS members, the strengths and weaknesses of the society itself, and the importance of research to the field of orthopaedics. The result was a comprehensive strategic plan: ORS 2020.

Jim Meffert of Tecker International, a consulting firm focused on helping associations clarify goals and establish direction through knowledge-based decision making, facilitated the sessions. He also shared the results of several one-on-one discussions that took place at the ORS 2015 Annual Meeting. "These meetings with key stakeholders," explained Mathias P.G. Bostrom, MD, ORS president, "helped to frame the discussion for the strategic plan, and—most importantly—keep the focus on the field of musculoskeletal research rather than the business of running the society."

New mission, vision
During their deliberations, stakeholders recognized that research has no borders and that education, sharing, and collaboration must occur on a worldwide level. That admission led to a new mission statement—to advance musculoskeletal research worldwide—and a bold new vision for the ORS—a world without musculoskeletal limitations.

What would such a future be like? How could it be achieved? To answer these questions, the group developed several vivid descriptions, including the following:

  • Musculoskeletal health is achieved through high levels of investment in transformative research.
  • Broad support for research comes from an educated public and advocacy.
  • A diverse and growing group of professions and professionals working in teams will discover innovative cures for musculoskeletal limitations.
  • The ORS is a catalyst for the development of global innovative teams that encompass a wide variety of professions and are supported by a culture of sharing ideas, time, resources, and results.
  • A world with improved quality of life and mobility, free from chronic pain caused by musculoskeletal injuries and disease, is possible through research.

In discussing what is important to the ORS as an organization, the following six core values emerged: Scientific Excellence and Integrity, Innovation, Collaboration, Partnership, Advocacy, and Diversity. Although integral values of the ORS since its inception, naming them helps ensure that the organization will continue to hold them as both aspirational and actionable.

Goals and objectives
Several important factors emerged as the group worked to identify goals and objectives. Among those was ensuring the success and involvement of the clinician-scientist. "Many barriers exist for the clinician-scientist, which negatively affect the field," explained Dr. Bostrom.

He plans to appoint a task force to identify these barriers and develop a long-term strategy to ensure the success of the clinician-scientist. "Of course," he continued, "the lack of clinician-scientists is not a new issue. In fact, many published studies have been done during the past 30-plus years about the dying breed of clinician-scientists."

The final charge of the group was to identify goals and objectives that would be the focus of the ORS's work during the next 5 years. These include the following:

  • empower current and potential members with the knowledge and resources needed to thrive in the changing research environment
  • increase the society's effectiveness in improving the global musculoskeletal research environment for current and potential members
  • increase government, industry, and private funding for musculoskeletal research commensurate with the societal burden of musculoskeletal conditions
  • ensure diversity, expertise, and experience within current and future potential membership

"It's an ambitious plan to say the least," Dr. Bostrom said. "But I'm confident that we are moving the ORS—and the field of musculoskeletal research—in the right direction."

Brenda Frederick is the ORS executive director; she can be reached at frederick@ors.org