A New and Different Direction for ISA

This post is authored by Steven W. Pflantz, president of ISA 2017.

The classic definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things you have been doing and expecting different results.  At some point, you have to nudge things along in an attempt to affect a change and move in a positive direction.

Last month, ISA’s Executive Board decided it was time to change what we were doing. The first step of that was to part ways with long-time ISA CEO and Executive Director Pat Gouhin. People immediately came to the conclusion that the move was prompted by some type of fault or wrong-doing.  In this case, there was none of that.  We just needed something different.

If I can offer an analogy, think of sports team whose coach has a history of being a really good coach, but his current team can’t quite win the championship. The team hires a new coach. They click and do well. The previous coach goes to another team who also has great success. This was a situation where a change was needed in order to foster another path toward growth and improvement.

What undoubtedly happens is that the first change precipitates many more changes, some small and some big.  Everyone takes notice of what happened and they undertake a little soul searching, step up their game, and generally get in the mode of what can we do better or do differently.

The world of the automation professional is changing daily, affected by rapidly evolving and emerging new technologies and solutions that need to be applied in creative new ways. It’s essential that the Society evolve and adapt in tangent with this changing environment.

It’s critical that ISA become more relevant and attractive to a younger generation. We need a steady influx of bright new minds in order to grow and meet the challenges of the future. Like parents who must adapt to communicate with and meet the needs of their growing children, ISA must adjust to a dynamic marketplace and to the expectations, demands and cultural underpinnings of today’s and tomorrow’s automation professionals.

For example, ISA’s roots lie in the process industries, mainly petrochemical-based operations. That’s an important strength, but there are other industry sectors out there that can readily and easily leverage and apply our treasure chest of intellectual property and expertise. There are many opportunities to secure new members and customers if we are willing to think outside the box.

As I’ve written numerous times in my columns, change can be uncomfortable and downright scary. We tend to associate change as a negative, but it does not have to be. I ask that we all look for the positives during this change and continue to do great things for ISA. Let us build on a great past for an even greater future.

I want you to know that I and the ISA Board know that we’re blessed to have such a great staff and great volunteer leaders, members, customers and partners. With your support and commitment to ISA, we will work together to achieve even greater success in the future.

 

About the Author

Steven W. Pflantz, PE, is an associate in the St. Louis, Mo. office of CRB Consulting Engineers, Inc., a global consulting, design and construction services firm. He serves as a technical leader on many of CRB’s electrical and automation design projects, applying his extensive electrical engineering experience — particularly in the areas of instrumentation and controls. A longtime ISA member and leader, Steven brings to his role as Society president a deep understanding of the automation profession, the needs and expectations of ISA members, and the value and significance of automation careers. In 2012 and 2013, he served as vice president of ISA’s Professional Development Department. He’s also served on ISA’s Executive Board (2008 and 2012) and as an ISA district vice president (2007 and 2008). In 2012, Steven was inducted into the Academy of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He’s also a member of the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE). He earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
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A version of this article also has been published at ISA Insights.

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