Calling All Marvel-ous Docs

Molly PereiraFeatured News

By Carrie Mauterer, D.D.S., CDA President
From the Spring 2021 Journal of the Colorado Dental Association 

Have I mentioned that I live in a household with five boys, a husband and two male golden retrievers? To say I’m outnumbered is an understatement. So tonight, I find myself watching superhero movies with the family. Again. Superhero movies aren’t normally my thing, but here is the interesting part—I have really grown to love the Marvel movies. That feels a little crazy to me. How did Marvel turn this ladylike (don’t laugh, Mom), ballet dancin’, Barbie playin’, junior Girl Scout into a bloodthirsty revenge seekin’ Thanos slayer? The movies just keep drawing me back in.

I’m not the only one who is dazzled by Marvel’s ingenuity and longevity. The Harvard Business Review released an article last year entitled, “Marvel’s Blockbuster Machine,” by Spencer Harrison, Arne Carlsen and Miha Škerlavaj.

The authors break down the unparalleled success of the Marvel franchise by citing its 22 films and $17 billion revenues. They go on to explain that not only are the revenues higher but the reviews and ratings from critics and audiences are significantly higher (84% compared to “the average for the 15 top-grossing franchises of only 68%”).

So how is it that Marvel has enjoyed the massive success and growth over the years? And, more importantly, what can the CDA take away from the biggest success story of Hollywood?

“Select for Experienced Inexperience”

The Harvard Business Review article mentioned this core value as the topmost influential value of the franchise’s success. When you think about the screenwriters, directors and actors that Marvel movies contain, you don’t see the same old action movie superhero names. For example, you see Taika Waititi and Jon Favreau as directors. These men never had experience with blockbuster action hero movies. They both came from an Indie background. That was a huge risk for Marvel to trust these directors with the reputation of their franchise! In fact, of all 15 Marvel directors, only one had experience with the superhero genre. This looks like a huge leap of faith from the outside but in fact is one of the core values that Marvel embraces. In order to keep their franchise fresh, current and evolving, they understand that different skill sets need to be brought to the table. They choose to trust the experience of the superhero inexperienced.

CDA Takeaway:

The CDA has a proud history of embracing the experienced inexperienced dentists in our leadership. Our board is making great strides in furthering this core value during our current discussions of developing a new and improved competency-based board. We want the Jon Favreaus and the Taika Waititis of Colorado to bring their experience to our CDA leadership regardless of their “traditional experience” within CDA leadership. The institutional knowledge of the CDA is easy to teach. The area of the most value to our leadership is the experience our doctors bring from beyond the boundaries of the CDA. We can’t teach that. Instead, we trust the experience of the CDA inexperienced.

“Leverage a Stable Core”

The Harvard Business Review article goes on to say that while Marvel advocates for the experienced inexperienced leaders, Marvel simultaneously leverages a stable core. The Marvel team holds onto a “core creative group” from one film to the next, which is typically about 25% of the total staff for that film.

 CDA Takeaway:

Because of the incredible leadership of Molly Pereira (a.k.a. “Captain Marvel”) and Greg Hill (a.k.a. “Vision”), we have a stable core to keep the CDA on track with our strategic plan. With the combined 26 years of experience (Captain Marvel has been an Avenger for 19 years, and Vision for seven years), these two incredible leaders have the institutional knowledge to guide our vehicle on the right course. The CDA also encourages the transfer of institutional knowledge by keeping some dentists who are veterans in a particular role to mentor the experienced inexperienced on our committees and board.

“Keep Challenging the Formula”

Marvel embraces “constant experimentation.” So does the CDA. In 2020, we were in a position to go virtual before the word “Corona meant anything other than a good summer beer. We were busy challenging the formula of conventional in person meetings well before Zoom took over our lives.

In conclusion, I want to focus on what these core values mean to you personally. The CDA embraces your unique journey and your distinctive skillset. As our Annual Session approaches in June, I encourage you to participate in the virtual House of Delegates whether or not you have any experience with the CDA. We can teach you how to write a resolution and how to present testimony in support of it. We had some really excellent and interesting debates last year that were brought to us by some newer faces in the House of Delegates. I was so proud of our doctors and so proud of our House.

For those doctors who have attended three or more CDA House of Delegates, you can run for a delegate position at the ADA House of Delegates. I would love to see you throw your name in the hat because serving the ADA House of Delegates was one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had in the dental profession. I would love for all of you to experience how the ADA makes its policies.

And finally, we are always actively searching for leaders who have experience in areas beyond the walls of the CDA. There are always committee and board opportunities each year for a dentist who has never served before. We welcome you and your unique distinctive experience.

Avengers Assemble!

Carrie Mauterer, D.D.S., is the current president of the CDA and a general dentist in Thornton, CO.