Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thinking Strategically

Strategic planning determines where we are going, how we will get there and how we will know when we’ve arrived. It also helps ensure that our present work is part of the bigger future picture.

Imagine sailing across the ocean, heading toward some far-off destination. Now suppose that a new captain takes over the ship each day. Each new captain thinks his/her route is best, so every day, you chart a new course and head the ship in a different direction. Not much chance you’ll ever reach your final destination.
That’s why organizations invest time and resources in strategic planning. Strategic planning determines where an organization is going, how it will get there and how it will know when it arrives. It also helps ensure that present efforts are part of the bigger future picture. The ultimate goal is to find and execute a path to a better future.

ASSE’s vision is to be a global champion of the SH&E professional, a global leader of the profession and a premier resource for those engaged in protecting people, property and the environment. To realize this vision, we must stay focused and remain on our charted course. Certainly, we have to adjust for changing currents and take advantage of shifts in the wind. But overall, the Society’s strategic plan provides for consistency and direction through a frequently changing leadership. It ensures that both staff and volunteer leaders are united around a clear purpose and direction.

More than a year ago, the Board of Directors set out to improve the Society’s strategic planning process. While the process in place provided a good plan, the board wanted to be more involved throughout the process, rather than simply act as an approver of changes. To achieve that, last February, we engaged in a full-day strategic planning session. Before the session, key issues were prioritized, researched and presented to the board. We then engaged in considerable, informed, open dialogue. Ultimately, we developed a plan that allows us to take advantage of key opportunities facing the Society. Our councils, practice specialties and chapters are working on initiatives to achieve these strategic goals.

In these difficult economic times, being strategic is critical to long-term success. It has been shown that organizations which continue spending at a relatively flat rate during a recession are more likely to survive and emerge strong when the economy rebounds than are organizations that cut spending drastically. We must continue to think strategically, invest in the best opportunities, follow our plan and make the best use of our resources.

One way we are doing this is by utilizing available technologies for communication. This area has great potential. By investing time and resources now, we can reduce future costs while improving the benefits you, as members, receive from your professional society.

ASSE is a strong organization. Through and thanks to the efforts of dedicated volunteer leaders, wonderfully committed members and an incredible staff, ASSE will continue to perform well in any economy. Certainly, we will encounter some struggles and difficult decisions will be necessary, but at the end of the day, we are and will continue to be successful.

As we sail through these turbulent waters, we are focused on achieving our vision. We are thinking and acting strategically to ensure that ASSE provides you with the benefits you expect and is well positioned for the future.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” asked Alice.
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
—From Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland