• The Gift – ISA 2014 Fall Leaders Meeting

    Jamie Eddy

    It seems like just yesterday that we were all very much engaged in the ISA 2014 Fall Leaders Meeting.  In case you missed it, this year’s event was held in Kansas City, Missouri at the Marriott downtown. And I personally felt like I was in the midst of what author Gary Harpst calls the Six Disciplines Methodology. I have attached a diagram from his site just in case you have not read his book, Six Disciplines Execution Revolution.  To understand why I felt this way, you have to understand the methodology.  Let’s take a look at the “steps” of the Six Disciplines Methodology and compare it to what we have done this year and what happened at the ISA 2014 Fall Leaders Meeting (FLM).

    Step 1 – Strategy: Decide What’s Important

    We began the process of developing a shared vision and strategy back in January at the ISA Executive Summit in Greensboro, NC.  And we have communicated the vision and five strategic goals repeatedly throughout this year.  Like the Summer Leaders Meeting, this year’s FLM was laser focused on the five goals, making sure those leaders who were working on the goals had an opportunity to share their achievements to date with their colleagues, and bringing folks who were new to the process along via visioning and brainstorming sessions.

    Step 2 – Plan: Set Goals that Lead

    While all of the FLM sessions were informative, from my perspective, some of the best sessions were those that included panels and/or engagement.  Four of my favorites were the Leader Continuity Session, the Strategic Goal Report out session (in the form of a panel discussion), the Microsite “How To” Session, and the Wrap-Up Breakfast, which included a panel of members of the Automation Advisory Council.  All four of these sessions were designed to focus on the goals and to “lead” attendees into engaging discussions and activities that both informed and helped facilitate execution of our plan.

    Step 3 – Organize: Align Systems

    Geographic, operational, and technical assemblies, along with ISA departments and divisions held meetings focused on making sure their activities were aligned with the Society’s strategic goals. As the groups began to develop lists of initiatives for 2015, they asked themselves the question: Are we aligned with the goals?  These groups stayed focused and began to think of ways to collaborate with other groups in the Society to achieve specific tasks.

    Step 4- Execute: Work the Plan

    It was so exciting to hear volunteer leaders and members of staff talk about what they are doing—how they are executing the plan.  During our panel discussions and meetings we received updates about the following “executed” initiatives:

    • Acquisition of automation.com – We talked about Automation.com and what the acquisition will mean to the Society from brand, digital offering, marketing and sales perspectives. Pat Gouhin, ISA CEO and Executive Director, and Terry Ives, Mergers & Acquisition Taskforce Chair, told the Pubs group about the acquisition of Automation.com and the opportunities for revenue growth in marketing and sales,  expanded content delivery and cool delivery options the acquisition brings.
    • PCS Mega-Symposium – Ken Belteau, ISA 2015 VP-elect, Automation & Technology, told us how the recent Process Control and Safety mega-symposium in Houston focused on cybersecurity, coolest delivery, content, and advocacy. 
    • Data-Driven Sponsorships -- Jennifer Infantino Halsey, ISA’s Manager, Marketing, Communications, and Corporate Partnerships, shared how her team uses data to grow sponsorships, increasing our ability to sell our products and services. 
    • Cybersecurity -- Eric Cosman, ISA VP of Standards and Practices, talked about what’s happening in cybersecurity with the IEC62443 standards series and with cybersecurity “curriculum” development to enhance ISA’s ability to provide workforce development/training courses specific to the field.
    • Coolest Delivery & App Development -- Dalton Wilson, ISA’s Manager of Education Services, talked about using gaming technology to provide simulated lab/hands-on training to augment our online training offering. Susan Colwell, ISA’s Manager, Publications Development, talked about the existing iPad and Android InTech+ Plus App, the next generation of these apps, and more. Tony Fragnito, ISA’s Chief Financial Officer, led a discussion of our website’s new search functionality and fielded questions related to issues with the site. Billy Bennett, CEO, Pyramid ODI and member of the ISA Automation Advisory Council, talked about how very important it is for ISA to remain relevant to next-gen automation engineers via focus on coolest content delivery—not just in terms of using technology as a cool delivery mechanism, but in terms of on-demand, on-the-go availability and accessibility.
    • Advocacy of Automation as a Profession -- Terry Ives, Chair of the Automation Federation and past President of ISA, explained how the Automation Federation is helping engineering societies develop competency models for their respective engineering disciplines modeled after the Automation Competency Model. Terry also talked about the work being done to develop automation curricula for community colleges and the collaborative effort with the US government and Cleveland Community College.  And Peter Martin, VP & Fellow, Schneider Electric Company, and member of the ISA Automation Advisory Council, talked about ISA’s opportunity to utilize its pool of retired automation professionals to provide real mentoring to the next generation of automation professionals.
    • Content Delivery -- Shari Worthington, ISA VP-elect, Publications, shared her content workflow strategy with the group, explaining how we are developing content, then re-purposing and delivering it across multiple channels from online/web, to mobile phones, to books, to e-books, to apps, to webinars, to magazines, newsletters, symposia. ISA’s content is being optimally delivered to automation professionals when and how they want to consume it.
    • Shale Gas Initiative – Nelson Norden, Director Global Business Development at Emerson LLLP and member of the Automation Advisory Council, engaged in a very informative session about the shale opportunity, explaining that the opportunity is not just in shale gas but also in shale oil and liquids. Pat Gouhin explained that ISA staff has budgeted a new dedicated project management resource to continually investigate and grow the opportunity for ISA in 2015.

    Step 5 – Innovate: Innovate Purposefully

    The entire Fall Leaders Meeting was infused with purposeful innovation.  In fact, some sessions, which had previously been held as traditional report outs, were purposefully and innovatively designed to infuse levels of collaboration and engagement we had not previously experienced in the past. One of the most innovative sessions was called Leader Continuity, led by Billy Bennett. The session was designed to help incoming office holders engage with current office holders in an effort to ensure there is continuity in the “hand-off” and to encourage communication and collaboration across the “offices.”  Billy used this drawing as a template to facilitate the session:


    Several leaders requested that we hold this session again at the next Fall Leaders Meeting because they felt it was very much needed and very beneficial.

    Step 6 – Learn: Step Back

    As I prepared for the 2014 Council of Society Delegates Meeting, I stepped back to look at all that our Society accomplished in 2014.  I wanted our membership to hear my view of where we were in 2013 and how far we had come in 2014.  I gave a presentation that reviewed our efforts to operate, collaborate, and innovate successfully.  And I explained the importance of identifying the vision, the drags, and the partnerships that facilitate that success.  I talked about the change in Governance Structure in 2014 that identified the Executive Board as the body within ISA that sets strategic direction.  And I reviewed the purposeful innovation at the Executive Summit and the Summer Leaders Meeting: two strategic meetings that laid the foundation for a more strategic ISA, an ISA with a shared vision, shared goals, and a shared strategic plan that engaged and inspired people to lead change. (To review an overview of my presentation in pdf format, click here. To access a video of the presentation, click here.)

    In the presentation, I highlighted the major initiatives that have been accomplished related to the five strategic goals and emphasized the important role that the Automation Federation has played and will continue to play as we seek new partnerships in the US and around the globe to help us realize our vision and achieve our goals.

    Jim Keaveney, 2014 Treasurer and 2015 President-elect Secretary, followed with a presentation on ISA 2014 financials.  For me the most exciting part of his presentation was its alignment with ISA’s strategic goals. ISA’s 2015 budget reflects support for specific initiatives related to the Society’s five strategic goals.  How cool is that?!

    Finally, Terry Ives, Chair of the Automation Federation, recapped the work being done by AF and the Automation Standards Compliance Institute.

    So why is the ISA 2014 Leader Meeting being referred to as the Gift?

    Have you ever noticed that people often use the words “gift” and “present” interchangeably?  By now you know how much I love to use Merriam Webster’s definitions in these articles.  Just for fun, let’s look at the definitions:

    Gift: noun \ˈgift\ something that is given to another person or to a group or organization

    Present: noun \ˈpre-zənt\something presentedgift

    And the verb “present” means: to give something to someone in a formal way or in a ceremony

    : to formally talk about (something you have written, studied, etc.) to a group of people

    : to make (something) available to be used or considered

    The ISA 2014 Fall Leaders Meeting was a gift.  The meeting was something that ISA leaders gave to the membership and other leaders. At FLM we presented—talked about our shared vision, strategy, and strategic goals, both formally and socially to groups of people who attended, who were present at the meeting.  And we made portions of these conversations and presentations available and accessible to others via teleconference, WebEx, and/or live streaming video. We also presented awards at the A&T and I&S luncheon, the Pubs luncheon, and the Honors & Awards Gala to recognize ISA members and members of the automation community for their excellent service and contributions to ISA and the automation profession.

    Yes, the 2014 Fall Leaders Meeting was spectacular! It was informative, fun, engaging and inspiring.  Those of us who were present graciously received this wonderful gift that was a palatable combination of information packed presentations, facilitated sessions, panel discussions, networking, workshops, business meetings, fellowship, food, engagement, a spectacular Honors & Awards Gala, and more!

    The Fall Leaders Meeting is over…What now?

    Shared Vision -- ISA will be the premier society for automation by serving the needs of the entire automation professional community.

    • Our success will be indicated by growth in membership and users and a lowering in the average age of our audience, reflecting a younger average age more representative of automation professionals today.
    • We will do this by focusing on 5 strategic game-changing goals…

    At the end of my presentation, I mentioned that while we have accomplished much this year, we cannot simply rest on our past laurels, because there is much to do. We must live in the present, learn from the past, and plan for the future.

    So, I leave you with a quotation from the book, The Present, by Spencer Johnson, that is applicable in your service to ISA, your work and your life:

    No one can predict or control the future.  However, the more clearly you imagine what you want to see happen, plan for it, and do something today to help it happen, the less anxious you are in the present, and the more the future is known to you.”

    I am so very proud of the progress all of YOU are making now in 2014 to achieve ISA’s five strategic goals. And because we have a shared vision with shared goals I know that ISA’s future is bright and filled with opportunity. 

    Thank you for the wonderful gift!

    Peggie W. Koon, Ph.D.
    2014 ISA President