From Lynn Craig:
I appreciate the time and effort volunteer leadership puts into ISA. The time is significant, the effort is challenging and the responsibility must be troubling. Uncertainty about where the ship is going and even more uncertainty about where it ought to go will result in some sleepless nights for those who take their responsibility seriously. I also appreciate Walt’s effort to make the debate about direction both broad and public.
I firmly believe the old business principle that says if you are in a hole, the first thing you need to do is to stop digging it deeper. ISA is definitely in a hole and Walt has suggested some specific actions that might help avoid further subterranean exploration. I don’t know enough about ISA’s budget, staffing and other issues to have a firm opinion about whether anything ought to be sold or, if so, what but his ideas are worth examining.
His third point, though, is critical and needs to govern most other decisions. I totally agree with his assertion: “First we find out what activities create the most value for the automation professional (note, I did not say the member). Then we figure out how to pay for doing those things.” I would add, “doing those things well”. Hopefully this sort of exercise is already underway. If so, it ought to see the light of day. If ISA is not doing a good job of creating value for the profession, it is on its way to irrelevance.
From Dawn Schweitzer:
(Responding to Jim Pinto) Jim,
I largely agree with you. I believe what ISA really needs is a realistic vision for itself, and an extremely courageous set of leaders including a new Exec. Director who are trusted enough to be allowed the flexibility to make things happen.
During my recent service as an Exec. Board and Exec. Committee member, I posed the questions “What if ISA didn’t exist? How would the individuals in the profession choose to interact?”. The pressing Society issue at the time was the financial balance sheet performance, along with recruiting a new Exec. Director. So the vision thing didn’t get much air time, although I did pose the questions to many of our leaders at the time, to at least try to get them thinking beyond the boundaries that they believed existed.
ISA has spent enough on surveys and consultants. It is time to act. Speaking from my daily experience as an employee of a relatively large corporation that has taken on the challenge to live in a totally different market than it grew up into, it is not easy. We are making progress at Kodak, but it is not without great anxiety. You have to be prepared to give up what used to work. You have to be willing to take more risk than you used to. For ISA, that will require an Exec. Director who brings enough wisdom and experience in this profession to be respected and trusted by the community of people who are invested in ISA today. The politics need to be put to rest long enough to allow ISA to move outside of it’s existing framework, and with that, provide a mechanism for everyone who is part of the worldwide I, S, & A community to interact as they see fit.
I’ve seen Nels’ comments in this thread regarding the ISA staff. I would agree that as an employer, the relationship ISA has with it’s staff may be contributing to the problem. The objective in recent years has been to drive financial performance as if ISA were a business, which at its core, it is not. Most of us who are employed by others have some self-preservationist tendencies; our staff is no exception. But because they remain the constants while the voluteer leaders cycle in and out, staff members have the ability to maintain and even set some directions. And because there is no real relevant vision for ISA, the Society is effectively adrift in many ways, and at even greater risk unless the right individual is found to take on the Exec. Director position.