Monday, June 26, 2017

Build Before You Change

As I write this I am on the plane out to my association's annual strategic board retreat. For those who wonder when I find the time to write my blog posts, airplane rides are great for my output.

I just finished re-reviewing the report I've prepared and will give to the board. Our annual retreat comes right at the end of our fiscal year, which gives us the ideal opportunity to both look back at the year just ending and to look forward at the year just beginning. And my report attempts to do exactly that. To look back on the successes of the year just ending and to look forward on the metrics and goals that will help determine our success in the year just beginning.

My summary comment on the whole package goes something like this: We've had a very successful year. Member participation and engagement is up, pretty much across the board, and our outreach networks to stakeholders outside our association have also grown substantially. As we look ahead to next year, a key priority will be exerting better leverage on those networks for the outcomes we seek.

That's especially true, I think, when we look at our efforts to see more of the technology our association represents being taught in our nation's universities and technical schools. One key focus area for us has been in building better stakeholder networks in these areas -- essentially engaging with the instructors and administrators in these institutions who would be in a position to actually do and facilitate this teaching.

We've offered a number of research and curriculum grants through our charitable foundation to many of these individuals, and the beneficial outcome of those activities extends beyond the creation of new curriculum pieces focused on our technology. We now have a substantial body of university professors and technical school instructors who are familiar with our association and interested in working collaboratively with us.

And only now that this network has been built do I feel that the time is right to try and leverage it for the wholesale change that we seek. In retrospect, building the connections took a great deal of time, but it was time that was necessary. Without the right partners, there is little chance that we would be able to create the kind of change we feel we need.

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This post first appeared on Eric Lanke's blog, an association executive and author. You can follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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