NSPE's Race for Relevance

As NSPE approaches its 80th anniversary, the organization's leaders began to ask fundamental questions about the Society and its role in the profession of engineering.

Why? Much has changed since David Steinman founded NSPE in 1934.

These societal, cultural, technological and economic changes have been experienced by all nonprofit societies and associations, not just NSPE. To remain relevant to their members and successfully carry out their missions, organizations need to adapt.  These changes were famously articulated by authors Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers in their book, Race for Relevance.

What has changed:

  • Decreased availability of time that members have to dedicate to association activities,
  • Increased value expectations,
  • Increased industry consolidation and specialization,
  • Increased generational differences,
  • Increased competition caused by the growth in the number of associations; and,
  • Technology explosion, according to Coerver and Byers in the association management book Race for Relevance.

What has not changed:

  • The need to engage with members in meaningful and effective ways;
  • To provide real and tangible value;
  • To make a difference for members and create opportunities for members to make a difference; and,
  • Have an impact on the profession and society.

NSPE recognized the imperative for change that was created by the reality in which it operates and  engaged its membership in an open process to define its challenges and opportunities within the context of the “five radical changes” recommended in Race for Relevance.

This work was pursued through the activities of seven task forces, involving over 96 NSPE members from 41 states, and over 3,000 hours of volunteer time on conference calls and doing research.

Informed by these efforts, in January 2014 NSPE committed to making the changes outlined in Race for Relevance. Watch the NSPE's Strategic Direction Powtoon on YouTube. The book’s concepts and approaches have been incorporated into NSPE’s Strategic Plan and embedded into the fabric of the association’s ongoing governance and operations.

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