For this post, I want to provide an update on ISA’s Executive Summit, which was held in Greensboro, N.C., 24-25 January 2015. Participants included the 2015 Executive Board members, Assembly Chairs, Strategic Planning VP and VP-Elect, and certain staff. The purpose of the Executive Summit was to bring participants together to review strategic goals and initiatives, to summarize ISA’s current position and to develop a plan moving forward for this year. This is the second year in a row that ISA has held an Executive Summit, continuing the transition from a representative board structure to a competency board structure.
As we move into 2015, we understand the importance of a deeper involvement from key leadership. We know our role in determining the organization’s mission, ensuring a future vision, and clearly stating our organizational values. Let’s take a look at the activities that occurred during the Summit and the decisions made.
An outside professional consultant, Ann Rosser from Plexus Consulting, was engaged to administer DiSC assessments (a behavior assessment tool) to all participants. The Innermetrix Disc Index is designed to uncover four quadrants of behavior that aid in understanding a person’s behavioral preferences. The Disc Index results show each person his/her behavioral style and how to maximize potential.
The four areas measured are as follows:
- Decisive – preference for problem-solving and getting results
- Interactive – preference for interacting with others and showing emotion
- Stability – preference for pacing, persistence, and steadiness
- Cautious – preference for procedures, standards, and protocols
Participants completed the DiSC assessment prior to the Summit and the consultant reviewed the reports, explaining report findings and how to interpret results, and what it all means to the changing culture of ISA. This assessment is an important step in the transition from a representative board structure to a competency board structure. It’s vital to identify what drives each member’s behavior, how to maximize potential, and how to unify ISA leadership moving forward. It was a beneficial part of the Summit, kicking us off in the right direction. For more information on the DiSC personal assessment tool, visit the DiSC website.
Billy Bennett, CEO of Pyramid ODI, guided us through the Summit, having compiled an ISA Executive Board Member Self-Assessment report. The report revealed member consensus on the following areas of focus:
- Setting Direction – The responsibility of determining ISA’s mission, ensuring a future vision, and clearly stating our values. Although the majority of Board members agree ISA has a clearly defined statement of purpose, and our vision and values are stated and understood, the results clearly showed that improvement is needed when discussing ISA with stakeholders and working toward the same future vision. We must refer to ISA’s mission and purpose on a regular basis. It is important to convey them consistently to stakeholders. As a Board, we must increase our focus on ISA’s future vision, all working together toward the same goals.
- Growing Our Leadership – The responsibility for selecting, assessing, and developing the Board’s director and members. ISA works hard to develop a suitable process to ensure a healthy partnership between the Board and the CEO. However, the roles and boundaries between the Board and that of the CEO need to be more clearly stated. Prospective Board members will be identified by a nominating committee. The recruitment and selection process is vital in creating an effective Board to lead ISA.
- Safeguard Organizational Health – The act of providing effective fiscal oversight, ensuring adequate financial resources, ensuring legal and ethical integrity, maintaining accountability, and ensuring effective organizational planning and decision-making. ISA has an effective financial management/accounting system and the results are audited annually. The financial report is reviewed by the Board. ISA is solvent and has sufficient reserves. However, improvement is needed in the area of decision-making between the staff and the Board to promote the long-term health of ISA.
- Ensure Value Creations – The act of determining, monitoring, and strengthening ISA’s programs and services, and enhancing our public standing. It is important for ISA to have robust systems in place for taking the ‘temperature’ of the market and truly understanding the needs of automation professionals worldwide. Once we understand those needs, we have to create the products and services that fill those needs. That’s an obvious statement, but it can’t stop there—we also have to prioritize our messages to the community so that we have clear, concise, relevant value propositions that line up with our core offerings to the market. ISA has always offered so many things to so many people, and that volume makes it difficult to clearly articulate value because that value is not always as focused as it could or should be.
The Board’s self-assessment was crucial in identifying the areas that are working and those that need improvement. All members value this insight as ISA moves forward in our culture change. To benefit ISA, all Board members must be heading in the same direction. Billy Bennett remained with us for the remainder of the Summit as facilitator. He did a fantastic job and we appreciate his efforts.
In continuation of the Board structure transition report, Pat Gouhin, ISA Executive Director and CEO, reviewed ISA’s recent governance structure changes that began in 2014. Many changes are being implemented to create an experienced-based Board for the benefit of ISA as a whole.
Pat’s report included these important responsibilities of the Executive Board: 1) Set the strategic direction for ISA, 2) Approve the annual budget, and 3) Act on matters of policy to advance objectives as specified by the Bylaws. The composition of the Executive Board will include both elected and appointed members with three-year and one-year terms respectively. The maximum years of total service is six.
The ISA Staff Organizational Chart was updated January 2015 to reflect a repositioning of departments, matching each department with one or more of the five strategic ISA goals relative to the department’s function. This move aligns staff expertise with the focus of each initiative, propelling the progress of the strategic goals forward.
Strategic Goals and Initiatives
Peggie Koon, Ph.D., 2014 ISA President and 2015 Chair of the Automation Federation, restated ISA’s vision for 2014 and through 2019: ISA will be the premier society for automation by serving the needs of the entire automation professional community.
She summarized the five strategic goals that were established last year and brought us up-to-date on their progress.
Once again, here are ISA’s five strategic goals:
- Big Data – ISA will use internal and external data to better understand trends, utilize data in decision making, and align products and services with market needs.
- Content – ISA will consistently develop relevant, timely, interesting content on important topics in automation, based on the needs and interests of our industries and professionals.
- Coolest Delivery – ISA will develop communication channels that deliver our quality content easily, in an engaging, informative, and forward-thinking way that appeals to multiple generations of automation professionals.
- IACS Cybersecurity – ISA will grow its expertise and resulting reputation as the expert network of cybersecurity professionals involved in the protection of industrial control systems.
- Career Advocacy – ISA will develop cradle-to-grave programs, products, and services that enhance the awareness and proficiency of automation professionals. We will promote automation careers to children and students; provide early career education for young professionals; offer leadership and management skills for mid-career individuals; and provide easy, attractive programs to mentor others and give back to the profession for retirees and late-career professionals.
In Peggie’s July 2014 column, she described using a car’s navigation system to get from Point A to Point B. And she was right in saying: “Wouldn’t it be nice if ISA could just enter our five strategic goals into a strategic WAAS/GPS, touch a screen and voila – out comes the strategic road map with step-by-step directions to success?” We know it takes a lot of work to complete such a road map. We began work on those goals in 2014 and are moving forward with the initiatives.
During the remainder of the Summit, Billy Bennett, the meeting facilitator, divided the participants into five groups, assigning each group one of the five strategic goals. Discussions ensued within each group to determine the diamonds, flaws, and issues regarding each goal. Diamonds are too valuable to lose, flaws create barriers to success while issues are challenges we know but cannot decide on what to do. Each group also identified drivers and restrainers of change. What circumstances exist that will drive us to change or adapt our vision for our strategic goal? What roadblocks or issues restrain us from achieving success?
In my March column, I plan to:
- Provide summaries of the five groups’ findings and their consensus recommendations how ISA can better meet its strategic goals.
- Outline plans for implementing each group’s recommendations.
The upcoming meeting of ISA leaders and the ISA Strategic Planning Committee – to be held 18 February – will determine which set of ISA leaders, staff and departments will be allocated toward implementing each set of recommendations.
Moving forward, I encourage everyone to consider how their roles and actions will shape ISA’s progress toward meeting its established goals. Each ISA member, volunteer, leader and staff member will play a key role. Through individual initiative and collective focus, we’ll be well positioned to achieve our objectives.
A version of this article also has been published in ISA Insights.