Change or Be Changed

April 2014

NSPE TODAY: OUTLOOK
Change or Be Changed

BY PRESIDENT ROBERT GREEN, P.E., F.NSPE

PRESIDENT ROBERT GREEN, P.E., F.NSPEThat change happens is not something we can debate; it does. The choice is whether we let change happen or make change happen. Many business strategy books courageously say the resilient, responsive, and profitable businesses are those that make change happen. But the reality is that the correct choice is both.

A business, or in our case an organization, can certainly choose to make change happen and that is, to a large extent, what the NSPE leadership has elected to do. However, as we say in the military, no plan withstands first contact with the enemy, and the enemy always gets a vote. It’s another way of saying that sometimes external forces will require a change.

Last month in this column, NSPE Executive Director Mark Golden discussed strategic planning and the concerns it raises. Many of us have seen strategic plans come and go, but that doesn’t mean we have to follow that path. Most of the failed strategic plans I have seen have failed for only a few reasons, such as lack of buy-in, unrealistic goals, and missing metrics.

NSPE does not plan to repeat these mistakes. First, we are not so much developing a strategic plan as creating a strategic-thinking process. Second, through the Race for Relevance process that started in 2012, we are getting member buy-in up front. And finally, the leadership is committed to working with NSPE’s constituencies to develop realistic and meaningful metrics while recognizing that the metrics may need to change as circumstances change. The strategic plan will tell us exactly what to do, but it will provide a standard by which we determine what to do and what not to do.

A few weeks ago, I released the NSPE Statement of Strategic Direction to NSPE and state society leaders. I asked that the statement be discussed and that we get feedback. While it is not our place to tell any state society how to operate, I think this guidance, with some modification, can help align local, state, and national organizations on some specific goals. From this document, we will be developing input and supporting the House of Delegates in exercising its statutory role in revising the current strategic plan’s vision, mission, and goals at the House of Delegates meeting in July, bringing all levels of governance into alignment with what you, the members, have told us through the Race for Relevance.

The Statement of Strategic Direction does many things, but it does not change NSPE’s fundamental mission and vision. We will remain committed to being recognized as the authoritative expert in licensure, ethics, and professional practice issues; to promoting licensure and assisting individuals in becoming licensed; and to protecting and enhancing the value of licensure and opportunities for the PE. We will do these at the national level and will support the state societies in doing them at the state and local levels.

To achieve these goals, we will focus on member value, and that is not restricted to ensuring you get a quality magazine and membership card. Member value includes your pride in being a PE and allowing your voices to be heard. And of course it includes those things we all have come to expect, such as quality training, ethics resources, and discounts on contract documents.

We will continue to expand our advocacy at the state and national levels, an area you told us that you valued. We are becoming more and more an organization that policymakers turn to, while also proactively expressing the collective voice of professional engineering.

We are enhancing how we deliver valuable content to you, the member. For example, some of you are reading this in the digital version of the magazine, and content delivery efforts have increased via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. We will continue to work to provide you with the content you need, when you need it, where you need it, and in a format you need and want.

Our resources are limited, so we will focus and build on our unique strengths. We are revitalizing old partnerships and initiating new ones so that we can accomplish more by working together. However, these partnerships are being entered into strategically, and we are specifically interested in those that will result in the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

We are committed to supporting and developing PE leaders. But in order to develop leaders, we must provide them with places to grow and opportunities to lead. To ensure we have these opportunities, we will work to provide various methods for member engagement at different levels within the organization and allow for various levels of activities.

Please take some time to read and think about the Statement of Strategic Direction. It is not simply a document for the House of Delegates or the board; it is for all levels of the organization. It will be an integral part of all of our working groups, interest groups, committees, and task forces. Our strategic plan will not be a document for the bookshelf, but rather a blueprint for a new, strategic thinking process.

Read the Statement of Strategic Direction.