Ain’t No Stopping Us Now

This post is authored by Jim Keaveney, president of ISA 2016.

We just finished our Fall Leaders Meeting (FLM) and it was so invigorating spending time with our dedicated volunteer leadership teams.  There was record attendance, many new faces, and an outstanding Honors & Awards Gala event.  The Leaders Meeting Planning Committee developed a strong program that offered many opportunities to hone our ISA and work-related leadership skills.

I picked the song, “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” to kick off our opening session.  I have never been so sure that we are on the right path to fulfill our mission and to create a new, “One ISA.”

We have fine-tuned our strategic planning process, which partners Executive Board Goal Champions with our staff leads to help develop the proper metrics and messaging.  We also developed an evaluation tool to help us pinpoint which initiatives are no longer providing the desired value so that we can better invest in the future. Strategic Planning is also working with staff to develop information dashboards to help our volunteer leaders improve their performance and identify opportunities for improvement.

Make no doubt, there will be some bumps and wrong turns along this path, but we are creating a continuous improvement culture that sets a framework for sustainable growth and relevance.

The FLM was also a time to recognize volunteer and industry leaders.  It was humbling to meet the honorees who have done so much for our industry and profession.  It is you who contribute so much of your own time and talent to develop high-value ISA content, including standards and best practices.  It is you who develop our training and certification programs and it is you who help create first-class symposia events.  As an automation professional and consumer of many of the “products” ISA offers, I will always be grateful. Thank you for all you do for ISA and our great profession.

I’m going to continue my call for producing the next generation of ISA leaders. The Society needs you. We just completed our election cycle and are fortunate to have a great slate of leaders and contributors for 2017. But we need to build on this progress and do even better.  Many of the positions were uncontested and one had no candidates at all.

Moreover, there were only three candidates outside of North America and there were no women.  Granted, we do have a fairly senior group and that brings welcome experience and expertise.  The quality of our incoming officers reflects that.  However, the longer-term challenge of leadership development remains a significant one. Our Board needs to stay focused on positioning the Society for future success and relevance. If we want to become more global and reach out to younger and more diverse automation professionals, we have to find a way to attract these groups to the discussion table and to our association as a whole.

Verna Myers, principal of Verna Myers Consulting, offers some great insight.  She uses the phase, “how to go from well-meaning to well doing.”  Think about that one for a few moments.  We often say that we create an inclusive environment, but is that really enough?  Verna notes that diversity often connotes quantity, but inclusion is about quality.  Stated another way, she states that diversity is being asked to the party while inclusion is being asked to dance.

It’s not about quotas, being politically correct, or a sole focus on race and gender.  It’s about creating good business processes that actively engage all professionals of diverse and productive perspectives.  This can be uncomfortable, but almost always yields better decisions and results. Groupthink is easier and enticing, but it will ultimately hold us back as an association.

I would also like to remind each of you that we have set up an e-mail address – facestowatch@isa.org – to receive suggestions on potential ISA leaders.  Please contact me at President@isa.org to offer your suggestions, or to join the team. Better yet – let me know if you want to dance.

About the Author

Jim KeaveneyJim Keaveney is northeast regional manager and key account director at Emerson Process Management. He brings a strong track record in automation technologies sales and marketing and business planning to his role as Society president. Jim has been an active ISA member for more than 30 years and has served in numerous leadership positions, including Society treasurer, finance committee chair and District 2 vice president. He has received numerous ISA honors, including the Distinguished Society, District 2 Golden Eagle and Lehigh Valley Section Dannenberg Service awards. He also received a Certificate in Instrumentation from the Philadelphia Section of ISA. Jim received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Temple University and a master’s degree in business administration from Penn State University.
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A version of this article also has been published in ISA Insights.

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