Creating Chiropractic Community Meet The Staff About Us Site Map Contact Us
ChiroWeb Logo Discussion Forums ChiroPoll Webcasts Subscribe Advertising Information

Search ChiroWeb!

Extended Search

Chiro Directory
Event Calendar
Previous Issues
Editorial Schedule
Member Services
Classified Advertising
Chiropractor Web Sites
Industry News

NBCE 990 filing for 2004 (953KB)

NBCE 990 filing for 2005 (1.1MB)

Leadership - What can FCLB learn from Enron?

Louis Sportelli, D.C. May 2006

Revised May 6, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen, for the 9th year in a row, thank you so much for allowing me to stand before you and share some thoughts with you during these very tense and emotional times. The honor of speaking to you never gets old for me, primarily because I always forget what I spoke about the year before. So hopefully I'm not repeating myself.

Hopefully I'm not repeating myself.

As always, I'm happy to see so many familiar faces and catch up on what is happening around the country. I just attended the ACC/RAC conference and I love how chiropractic keeps gaining new talent––young professionals who will carry on the work that some of us gray beards started out to do. No doubt they will raise the standards for the entire profession and introduce new ways of enhancing the "experience" for their patients, while growing their practices, using best practice methods and helping to advance the profession.

The regulatory boards have the tough job of ensuring high standards for the profession while giving doctors of chiropractic the opportunity to earn a living in our noble profession.

Each year of your gracious invitation, I have chosen to address one controversial issue or another and this particular year...... how can one ignore the leadership issues and multiple allegations that have been flying around the internet and snail mail for the past few months. To not speak about a governance issue this year truly would be INGNORING THE ELEPHANT in the room. If this difficult leadership situation is left unchecked it will evolve into an even greater dilemma, just ask anyone familiar with the myriad of corporate scandals now made public through their various civil and criminal trials. These were problems, overlooked, tolerated and left unresolved until....they finally could no longer be ignored.

You know the old saying: "Where there's smoke there's fire", and there is definitely lots of smoke surrounding the issues between the NBCE & FCLB leadership. But anytime there is an allegation of secrecy surrounding any kind of action, the inference raises doubt about the way the board and the organization are conducting their business. This happens "EVEN IF THERE IS NOTHING WRONG!"

This shroud of secrecy and protestations by all factions simply encourages and fuels wild unsubstantiated speculation. This is not a good thing. I am happy to say that some of this cloud of secrecy is already disappearing by the continuing and untiring effort of Dynamic Chiropractic, but also because of the courage of the delegates assembled here this week.

One important point I want to make is that I was delighted when reading all the back and forth documents between the various factions is that everyone agrees on one thing....the end product is fine. The NBCE staff produces an exam and accomplishes exactly what it is intended to accomplish and it is serving its purpose very well. Unfortunately in these internal squabbles our staff is often left scarred and unsettled, they feel the pain of unrest.

Without pulling any punches...... at this point there appears to be a crisis of leadership.

In an era when we're subjected daily to news of inappropriate and even criminal behavior by boards at Enron, WorldCom, Tyco and many other companies, it's more important now than ever to shed light on our conduct and ensure that organizations make the changes necessary to be deemed "incorruptible" from any point of view. It is especially important for non-profit organizations which do not have to legally comply (YET. notice I said yet) with the most stringent standards of conduct imposed by law, to self-determine and self-impose procedures and protocols to meet or exceed those standards voluntarily. Proactively in demanding transparency and disclosure is perhaps the most lethal weapon any board can have to defeat allegations whether they are spurious, whether they are true...... or whether they are somewhere in-between.

My goal is not to lay blame on any individual(s) HELL there is enough of that kind of recrimination to go round by those on Either side of this squabble, but I want to point out some obvious problems which If remain unaddressed, will seriously harm both organization's ability to provide adequate leadership internally... and will erode confidence in any and all actions they undertake externally.

The litany of allegations in this current dispute, About board secrecy, conflicts of interest, Travel, contracts, confidentiality, compensation, non disclosure, irregularities concerning elections, ad nauseum are as old as this profession. I can't tell you how many times I have heard those same allegations during my career....What's the expression....SOS different DAY DIFFERENT group. Those who are the "in crowd" say things are good and nothing needs to be changed and in fact EVERYTHING NEEDS TO REMAIN THE SAME, those who are the "reformers" say it is time for CHANGE....and the change is imperative. And borrowing from a Seinfeld show...YADDA, YADDA, YADDA...

There is one simple fact. IF THERE IS ANY secrecy, IN ANY ACTION, in ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM RELATIVE to ANY member--- duly elected to serve on any board----that action is not only unacceptable, but possibly illegal and violates the fiduciary duty of the duly elected board member. Any board member, who is involved in any such action, or a board member that feels he/she has been disenfranchised, not only has a right but a responsibility, and a mandate to correct that flaw. THERE IS NO ROOM FOR COMPROMISE ON THIS ISSUE OF COMPLETE BOARD DISCLOSURE TO DULY ELECTED BOARD MEMBERS.

If this is truly the case......and I do not know if it is... then there is no question that this single issue is one that is non-negotiable in terms of correction.

Wearing my insurance hat, I would also suggest that the board members check that the current premium on their Directors and Officers liability policy is current and paid!!!

I don't know about you but ..... This approach seems a rather simple and elegant solution to me, recognizing that ONLY by full disclosure, proper board governance ….and a desire by everyone to remove "even the appearance of any impropriety" WILL complete TRUST be restored.

There has been much news this past month about ENRON. I should hope that would provide some guidance to all boards about issues which got Enron officials into trouble. There was an erosion of leadership, stewardship, integrity, fidelity and a loss of their Moral compass. As a result, the government (that bastion of integrity) enacted Sarbanes-Oxley legislation to place stringent standards on corporate board members and outline their fiduciary duties and responsibilities. FCLB , NBCE and all other boards in our profession need to ensure that similar stringent standards are in place relative to governance. There seems to be an issue being alleged concerning a lack of transparency which has created an environment that has permitted the organization to continue to operate in the current model.

Without some thoughtful changes........ what you have is a system that practically encourages abuse.....and by the way this element is true regardless of which faction leads or controls the board(s). This process obviously needs to de-politicize and corrections made now before any healthy governance can begin. There are allegations concerning conflicts-of-interest because of a lack of by-law provisions. Like everything else, previously operating in a certain way may have been fine or at least acceptable at one time....... But that was also before any such conflict or should I say "perceptions of conflict" was brought to light.

But NOW that these issues are known there are potential problems with the structure and there should be thoughtful deliberations as to what constitutes a "conflict of interest." Believe me there is such gross misunderstanding and misinterpretation of what constitutes a conflict that I suggest the matter be initially sent to an appropriate group (who truly understand conflict issues). They can review and then make recommendations to the full body. Conflicts of interest can create a systems flaw, and it needs to be corrected and corrected not with Knee-jerk reactions, unfounded allegations, personal attacks, misguided concepts or paralyzing restrictions which can easily happen if emotions overtake good judgment. Rather the modifications should be made with thoughtful deliberation with the ultimate goal to remove any conflict or even the "perception" of conflict order to enable the organization to move forward and continue to function.

And by the way, if FCLB is to protect the public and NBCE is the testing arm, perhaps some strong consideration of qualified public members on the boards might be another quantum leap forward. Our historical narrow-minded approach of restricting governance to only DC's is not a sound model, It's time to recognize the value of and allow for, the viewpoints of public members in the delicate decisions of the board. These views brought to the boards by good public members, will open new vistas.

I know I'm giving you a lot to digest. And I know that some of this is unsettling, conflict always is. Unrest always is. Change always is.

Some of you are thinking, "What a mess. We've got to do something now." Others may be thinking that as long as it doesn't affect them personally, who cares? Some may even be thinking..what problem? The fact is, everyone should care. This profession cannot have our leading organizations (any of them) subjected to charges or allegations of impropriety. If these remain unchecked, then it's our collective fault if the situation becomes worse, and forces outside the profession are required to correct them. I ask...Did we learn anything from Enron? Three things can happen here. Number One–We can do nothing and hope it gets better, and obviously you have rejected that course of action this weekend by the action you have already taken. But remember, doing nothing is what enabled this to fester and become an even bigger problem. Number Two–We can hope that parties involved in this controversy will come together as one and rectify these issues in a reasonable and rational fashion.

So far, from all the letters and media accounts that not only isn't happening, the factions are actually becoming more and more divided as the problems continue and come to light. Perhaps yesterdays actions taken by the delegates will prompt a new response to working together, let's hope so. Number Three–some outside agency may be brought into play and resolve the board issues without the input of the current parties. What a shame that would be.

One could only hope that the chiropractic regulatory boards and NBCE come together to study the issues and to suggest new methods of governance that will reestablish confidence in the governance of all the organizations.

One caution in this entire process and it may be surprising. The reforms that result from this process must be carefully thought out, rather than a wholesale knee-jerk change reaction. Yes, there are obvious glaring errors in the way the board has been structured in the past, and I believe these flaws must be addressed and corrected through thoughtful deliberation. Care should and must be exercised to ensure that organizational paralysis does not result from an emotional desire to change the current model to one which could become impotent as a result of a new governance model.

Board should be allowed to do what boards do, set policy in an appropriate manner. Boards should be allowed to govern without undue internal restriction, but with full, unqualified and complete board disclosure, deliberations, dialogue and debate, including every board member having full and complete access to full and complete information. That is the only way boards can and should operate.

When these governance changes are made, the board can and should and will be above reproach. It should be the very model of integrity and fidelity. It should be leading by example. I'm not saying this because I hope it happens, I'm saying this because that is what must happen. When that does happen, we will have the leadership the board requires and leadership that we deserve.

We must learn something from ENRON, and I think we did.

Thank You.

Post your thoughts in our discussion forum

To report inappropriate ads,