At today’s International Executive Board, at the 2017 World Conference in Washington DC, we closed out the 2014-17 Strategy.
It was a strategy that transformed IABC.
At the 2017 Annual General Meeting a talented group of leaders are set to step up and take for the next strategy: #IABC1720
The purpose of this post is to briefly:
Take stock, reflect, gain insights to move forward
Close loops, let go of what is no longer relevant
Acknowledge, appreciate, thank
As with any 46-year-old organisation, much work remains, yet our leaders around the world report that they have seen a step-change. And, as with any 46-year-old organisation, much that came before has been built on. We’re grateful to all who put their should to the wheel over the years.
Building on the best from our founding, we moved from an organisation that had friction and confusion into one ready to re-energize. Today at the AGM we’ll set out a rechartered mission to that effect.
In shorthand, these are the things that advances us to where we are today:
Clarity & alignment: roles and responsibilities.
Customer focus: strategic advisors.
Actionable insights: survey policy and personas ; key performance indicators clarified; annual portfolio review initiated; board-level chapter and region dashboard implemented – and groundwork for strategic funnel laid.
Bottom line results: back in black; technology updated; ready for the future.
Ready for #IABC1720
Lessons learnt? Almost uncountable. Painstakingly documented on this blog – some 100+ posts. Go ahead and explore. For example, there’s a whole section dedicated to insights articulated through Venns – and we even have paper airplanes with leadership advice from your peers. Because strategy work can otherwise be a bit dry.
The board spent time reviewing what was good, and difficult – during the implementation of the 2014-17 strategy. It was an opportunity close loops, and discuss what needs to be done differently in the coming years.
Thanks to the 2014-15, 2015-6 and 2016-17 boards who oversaw the development and implementation of the strategy. And our hard working leaders in the field. The people who power chapters and regions around the world.
And our staff. Thank you all. We couldn’t have done it without you.
We met to define our business priorities for the coming board year. It was exciting to be in the room with so many people who are passionate about IABC’s success.
Our senior management team kicked the session off with presentations that showcased their ideas on how to move the association forward. I want to personally thank our outgoing Executive Director Carlos Fulcher, and our now Acting Executive Director Stephanie Doute – as well as Director of Professional Development Ron Hansen, Director of Content Natasha Nicholson, Director of Finance Brook Yciano and Governance Manager Kirsten Peterson for their contributions.
We were also joined by Jodie Slaughter, President and Founder of McKinley Advisors, the company that conducted our recent membership survey. She shared trends in membership associations, which was incredibly insightful. One key point – successful associations are exploring relevant Big Data to gain actionable insights.
As we move into the last year of the 2014-2017 strategy, it was a pleasure to mark many items off the list as completed! Thank you to all our 1,000+ leaders across the world for the hard work you have put in to make that happen. Read the latest annual report to learn more.
Moving forward for this board year, we established four key business objectives to continue our progress towards our established strategic goal of achieving financial sustainability and increasing our membership retention.
While we did make advances in each area this past year, there are still improvements that need to be made to reach our ultimate goals.
1. Retention: substantially enhance the existing plan, utilizing the information from the membership survey we conducted earlier this year.
2. Technology Strategic Plan: we made significant investments and improvements in our technology over the past two years, but we must continue to wisely invest to improve our member experience and customer service.
3. Strategic Communications Plan: continue to focus efforts on our external communications and reaching new audiences to generate increased awareness about IABC. Our Communications Committee is in place and working to advance the association and our profession.
4. Strategic Marketing Plan: IABC has a lot of great products and can add significant value to members of the professional communicators profession – however, we don’t do a good job of telling our story and getting our message heard, understood and acted upon.
As to the Strategic Marketing Plan, this is a combination of a couple of objectives from our previous list of business priorities – to focus on the success of our mature products and to engage with professional communicators who are not members – but it actually will provide a platform for making that happen. Utilizing the survey data, as well as the personas developed by the Membership Task Force, a comprehensive marketing plan will be developed to sell all of our products. Initially, it will focus on Academy offerings, but quickly scale up to include all of our offerings.
A senior staff member was assigned to each objective and milestone dates were set – and we’ll keep you posted on progress.
And I hope to see you at the Washington Hilton next year for #IABC17! Mark your calendar now: 11-14 June 2017.
Dianne Chase 2016-17 IABC Chair
P.S. Got a recommendation for the #IABC17 team on who should keynote? Share your suggestion here – and please help spread the word.
You may have seen in earlier quarterly reports that IABC had recently achieved a Silver rating from GuideStar.
We’ll, we’ve now taken it to the next level: Gold.
It is in line with our strategy – and our aim to be open, accessible – and accountable.
GuideStar is the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations.
As a non-profit we fit well into the work that GuideStar is advancing for the overall industry:
“We envision a nonprofit sector strong enough to tackle the great challenges of our time. GuideStar’s Nonprofit Profiles provide you with the information you need to make smart decisions, build connections, and learn from each other to achieve your missions.”
Big thanks to all who contributed to making this happen – and be sure to come to the Annual General Meeting at #IABC16 in New Orleans if you want to learn more.
The IABC International Executive Board – aka #IABCieb – just closed out its third board meeting of this term and here’s a quick recap of what was on the table in addition to the usual reports from the Chair; Vice Chair Dianne Chase (with a specific focus on the work of the Council of Regions – aka #IABCcor); Treasurer Ginger Homan ABC and last definitively but not least, the report from our Executive Director, Carlos Fulcher MBA CAE:
If you want to see how the Gold Quill framework can be used off-season too, check out this earlier post.
The board also had an update from the IABC Academy – one of the perhaps less exciting roles of the board (yet essential) is reviewing terms of reference to ensure clarity of roles, responsbilities – and ultimately alignment with our purpose, vision, and mission. Big thanks to Academy Chair Theomary Karamanis (and congrats again on the recent move to Cornell) as well as board liaison Sharon Hunter for their work on this with Carlos Fulcher MBA CAE and Ron Hansen, our Education Director on staff. This work forms an essential part of the #IABC1417 strategy, specifically in consolidating gains from the 2011-13 strategy cycle.
Carlos, our Executive Director, took us through the comprehensive report on this year’s World Conference – big thanks goes out to Preston Lewis who chaired the #IABC15 Programme Advisory Committee and helped feed into the analysis work led by Natasha Nicholson, IABC’s Director of Content. All that after they had delivered a successful conference too! ‘No rest …’ as the saying goes.
I’m super excited to be working with Stacy Wilson ABC on #IABC16. We’ve had a tremendous response to the Open Call to serve on the 2016 Programme Advisory Committee. Great to see so many leaders from around the world looking to step up and serve.
We’re looking forward to welcoming you all to New Orleans.
The IABC International Executive Board – aka #IABCieb – held its first board meeting of this term at #IABC15 in San Francisco and here’s a quick recap of what was on the table:
Strategy 2014-17 & 2015 priorities
In addition to welcoming new board members featured to the right – and thanking those outgoing – the incoming board started off reviewing the road travelled so far.
From the strategic intent for 2014-17:
Financial recovery and sustainability is primary, as is the loyalty and development of our members and leaders and consolidating gains from the 2011-14 strategy.
The big opportunity to be grasped is then: Increased reputation in the profession; better brand positioning; and greater interaction with business – as a revenue generator and reputationally.
To the more detailed priorities for 2015.
I thought I might share what an engaging road it has been – as it has been a long one, I’ve put that right at the end for those who want to geek out on what it takes to arrive at a shared strategy – there are no shortcuts…
Following the strategy grounding, the board discussed alignment – and ran through the playbook for the year: essentially who does what, when and why.
The board then considered a number of papers for decision:
Membership Task Force & Survey Policy
Claudia Vaccarone brought two papers for consideration. Both advance our 2014-17 strategy – and a number of 2015 priorities in specific. Both were adopted:
The first one kicked off a focused look at our membership offering. A range of initiatives have looked at elements of membership over the years, yet based on feedback from our leaders across the world, it is time to take a look at the bigger picture as the market is changing fast. The group includes leaders from across the world identified through the IABC Council of Regions and will report back at the 2016 Leadership Institute.
The second paper was on surveying – recognising that in the age of big data it also needs to be well structured! The aim is to switch from the current ad-hoc approach to a regular schedule of timely and relevant surveys from IABC that can help inform leaders for action at all levels of the organisation
In the interest of securing the best leadership talent to help IABC deliver on its mission, vision and purpose – and in line with its stated philosophy:
“IABC is a volunteer-driven organization whose strength is derived from the dedication of its members to the advancement of their profession, with a commitment to improving the effectiveness of organizations through strategic, interactive, integrated business communication management.”
The board agreed to institute open calls for relevant incoming IEB Board and Programmatic Committees using the IABC Leadership Competency Framework. Look out for the Open Calls!
The board considered a paper I had asked Stephen Welch to put together in collaboration with Natasha Nicholson, IABC’s Content Director and Editor of Communication World (CW).
I am glad to report that the board agreed to a proposal to reinvigorate our approach here, making it a shared approach across all of IABC – we have great events, insights and outputs created across the world every day. Now let’s turn it into a real global conversation.
Look out for the Open Call for a refreshed Editorial Advisory Committee to come in and help shape the conversation that advances the profession – and if you’re a Chapter Leader, you don’t have to wait, you can align your event schedule to the CW editorial calendar right now (and indeed, pitch an article).
Audit & Risk
The board agreed to a broader remit for the IABC Audit Committee.
Good industry practice, as set out in Leading with Intent – a national index of nonprofit board practice – indicates that an organisation of IABC’s size should have a separate Audit Committee. This is already in place at IABC, yet historically it has focused mainly on the association’s finances, unlike other organisations where it has a broader remit. Also, unlike many Audit Committees it does not meet throughout the year, nor does it consider broader risk for the organisation – as is good
The IABC operates against a rolling three-year strategy and as the 2011-14 strategy came to a close, the work preparing the way for 2014-17 – aka #IABC1417 – was already well underway:
Back in 2013 the board directed the then Vice Chair, Russell Grossman ABC, to convene a working group to deliver a framework by June 2014 – and Russell in turn asked me to do the facilitation work.
Recognising that IABC strategy is by its nature iterative – we need to bring all stakeholders with us – #IABC1417 is not a big bang; more an evolution that helps us transform over time.
Overview of how we got to where we are at today:
Summer 2013 – Russell Grossman ABC convenes Strategy Group virtually
October 2013 – Strategy Group meets for Think Tank in Los Angeles and defines the challenge, sets out ambitions and identifies high level opportunities
November 2013 – January 2014 – Strategy Group deliberates further on Basecamp
February 2014 – The Council of Regions (CoR) and the leader of the Chapter Relations Task Force + key staff hold a Think Tank session at the 2014 IABC Leadership Institute in New Orleans. Burning issues are explored as a way of creating a common purpose. Prezi: j.mp/IABC1417-LIprogressprezi
March 2014 – Outputs from the new deliberations continue on the dedicated Basecamp site; Past Chairs asked to start wrapping up outputs and outcomes from 2011-14 – aka – #IABC1114 so that we can honour and celebrate the many people who helped make it happen.
April 2014 – Strategy Group discussion continues via dedicated Basecamp; IABC’s International Executive Board (IEB) reviews strategy discussion deck
May 2014 – Deliberations continue virtually across the IEB and Strategy Group Basecamps in preparation for more formal review
June 2014 – A formal proposal for the strategy is taken to the IEB for approval
July 2014 – A senior staff day-long summit with the IABC executive held to further align on the strategy and agree the prioritised operational plan for the year which flows from it.
Autumn 2014 – This then determined the strategic workplan for IABC staff, to operationalise for 14- 15. The Strategy also became the workplan for the 2014-5 IEB.
January 2015 – Then IABC Chair Russell Grossman ABC gives update in quarterly report
February 2015 – Q&A with leaders at the ’15 Leadership Institute in Orlando
Russell Grossman ABC picked up on this precedent as part of his commitment to visible leadership – and I’ll be carrying it on across my 2015-16 term.
I’ll be sharing Field Notes from trips. Also, to keep things regular, look out for a Weekly Venn connecting tools, people and practice related to international communications.
Last but not least, one of the things I’ve heard repeatedly over the years from our leaders across the world is a desire to be kept up-to-date with the broader work of the association’s board. People put in a remarkable amount of time and effort across the globe to advance the profession (and of course our shared organisation) and communication and collaboration are at the centre of making that work.
To that end I am introducing a category on this blog called #IABCieb Notes & Queries.
It has two simple aims:
Share brief notes from board proceedings;
Collate questions, queries – and their answers – for easy access.
Want to geek out and get a bit more of the backstory – and also the basic template I went through to explain this approach in more detail to others?
If the financial crisis didn’t teach us anything else, then it hopefully taught us that it is not just commercial firms that need to operate professionally and with a solid business model.
Non-profits need to do that too, and increasingly we see expectations like this put on government departments as well. What is common across all of these? These organisations need solid professional communicators to support them. Don’t take my word for it. Take SAP’s CEO – our keynote speaker earlier [at #IABC15] – take his word for it.
What can you expect from me? I will follow the path Russell has forged for visible leadership at IABC. At the time Russell took over we needed a strong central figure to continue to hold things together. Looking at this room, and reflecting on the progress we have made – as challenging as it has been – I would like to venture to say that we now need a thousand leaders to stand up and be counted.
We have a thousand leaders in this association.
You’re a highly engaged bunch. You’re kind. You’re hard working. And you’re demanding.
So what will I do to help you? I will do my utmost to live what we want the tone around here to be:
Accessible Open Lighter Contemporary Professional
To that end, and accompanying the now once-again regular quarterly reports I am instituting a quarterly progress call – the corporates amongst you will know it as an earnings call – but we of course have no shareholders. We do however have stakeholders and we need to continue to have regular exchanges, as piloted this year as ‘open mics’. Look out for an invite to a Google Hangout where you can hold me, and the board, to account, ask questions and get straight answers.
I will also kick off a new conversation once a month – aligned with the IABC editorial calendar – and I encourage you to participate, or indeed, kick off your own.
What do I hope to review with you when I stand here next year?
Last week Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, revealed in its communications market report that the British spend more time glued to screens than they do sleeping.
The average adult Briton spends eight hours 41 minutes looking at a screen (over eleven hours if you count double use like tweeting while watching TV ). Few of us meanwhile manage more than six hours kip a night.
Ofcom paints a picture of a UK obsessed with consuming media in all formats, and in particular on smartphones and tablets, though TV viewing has now dropped below four hours a day.
Although these are UK figures, I doubt they’d be much different in most of the connected world – and many of us working in communications probably well exceed these figures.
Demands of clients and a 24 hour media mean we literally sleep with our smartphones, eat with Twitter, and never go to see clients without laptop. And the phone? My own voicemail actually converts my messages to text as well just to pack in some more screen time. I never actually ‘listen’ to a voicemail.
And of course my iPad never leaves my side. If you email me it’s more than likely your reply is composed on it. (Incidentally thanks to all of you who have taken the opporunity to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org – I try and respond within a couple of days max.)
But August in the northern hemisphere means vacation time. So next week I’m leaving one of my two smartphones in the drawer; cutting back on the tweeting and locking away the laptop. (Leaving the iPad behind is just too much of a wrench…….).
Finally, whether you’re on vacation or not, a reminder that August 22nd is the deadline if you want to apply to be on the new IABC Ethics Committee.
We’re taking a more transparent approach to this, important, Committee. Any member in good standing can apply and there’s then a selection process. The form is here.
And if you’ve also still to go on vacation, have a good one!