ISA Governance: Is it time for a change?
ISA has begun a process to assess our governance system. This evaluation is an important step for our Society. I want to inform you about the actions we are taking, and why.
After much discussion within the Society over the past few years, the Executive Board has enthusiastically agreed to support an evaluation of our governance model. At the 5 October 2010 meeting, the board established a Governance Task Force and approved ISA Strategic Planning Vice President Ian Verhappen as its chair. It also approved funding to engage an expert consultant in the field of non-profit governance. We have started the process of reviewing our governance structure in light of our current and future needs, our environment, and the best practices of similar organizations. The task force, with input from the consultant, will either validate our structure or propose alternatives.
Currently, our Society is led by a complex, opaque structure of sections, divisions, districts, departments, committees, and councils. This system has changed little since ISA’s founding in 1945. Clearly, the world, ISA, and the professionals we serve have changed greatly since then. Our governance model has served the Society well for many years. However, in the spirit of the visionaries and innovators who established the original model, it is time to question whether it is the best structure to meet our needs.
Think about it: When ISA was formed, there were no laptops, cell phones, or conference calls. No websites, webinars, e-mail, or virtual meetings. Communication was carried out by telephone, telegraph, postal mail, or face-to-face. ISA’s founders could not have anticipated the drastic changes that would occur.
Not only has communication technology evolved, but our profession has transformed as well. The nature of competition has changed, as witnessed by the growth of global trade and its effect on the markets we serve. Our work/life balance has changed, impacting how and where we spend our time. Even the way we network and stay connected with friends, co-workers, and family members has been revolutionized. It would be reasonable to expect these changes would affect the way ISA could best be structured.
Does the original governance model still serve the Society well in today’s world? Whether the answer is “yes” or “no,” we owe it to our members and the profession to ask the question. I promise a diligent analysis, and we will do what is needed to keep the Society strong for decades ahead.
I urge you to become engaged in the discussions. The ISA leadership understands this is a considerable undertaking, and many Society members will have strong opinions about the process as well as the outcome. The leadership wants to ensure that all members are informed of the steps being taken and have the opportunity to provide input—directly or through designated channels (section, district, division, department, etc.). To this end, the task force is developing multiple communication channels using all the tools available, from e-mail to Internet to face-to-face discussions at local and Society-wide meetings.
We have established an open mailbox where all members may submit comments throughout the process. To view a list of the task force members, access the open mailbox, and access documents as they become available go to http://www.isa.org/governancerestructure.
I want to thank you for your feedback and your support in this exciting and important activity.
H. Leo Staples, Jr.
2011 ISA President