This post is authored by Steven W. Pflantz, president of ISA 2017.
As you’ll recall, I stated in my February post that ISA’s long-term value and success depend on our ability to embrace change and become: more flexible, more adaptable, faster to market, and less reactive.
So how do we move ahead and work to achieve these change goals? First of all, driving organizational changes begins at the top. ISA leaders need to lead and teach by example in what we do. That’s how to initiate culture change.
As leaders, we need to make decisions based on our future not what we’ve done in the past. We can’t constrain ourselves according to our past behavior and practices. Attracting new and younger leaders to the Society is important because they can’t fall back on old ways; they bring fresh perspectives and ideas and are motivated to act on them.
Change requires a mindset shift. We need to view change not as a temporary phenomenon but as an ongoing reality. We need to be receptive to change as an evolutionary fact. Things change and we need to change along with them.
Consider all the changes in our professions and industries over the years. Look at the change from pneumatic controls to smart, digital transmitters and the control systems they connect with. Now take a step back and take a look at ISA. Has our Society, as an organization, changed that much over the years? Are we stuck in the past, held back by our old ways?
And today’s marketplace won’t wait for ISA to catch up. As I emphasized last month, succeeding in the marketplace requires keeping pace with the speed of change, demand, and our competition. Faster to market means getting things done when they need to be done, not when we can get them done. While, yes, we’re not going to meet every deadline, we have to operate with a greater sense of urgency.
It’s my hope that by recruiting new leaders and volunteers, we’ll be able to ease some of the workload burden, streamline processes, and improve product and service delivery—as well as expose ourselves to new perspectives and ideas.
To be less reactive, we have to be more determined to take the lead. We need to be the one setting the standards and establishing the trends, not waiting for others to act so we can follow along with the rest of the crowd. In many ways, this goes back to our culture. We tend to be conservative in our thinking and actions. We all need to understand that ISA leaders, volunteers and members are smart, highly capable professionals and experts in the world of automation. It’s only logical that ISA should assert itself as the industry pacesetter and achieve and maintain positions of leadership.
To all those members considering a Society leadership position, consider no longer. Please join us.
To all those members currently in leadership roles, I applaud you for your commitment, and I ask for your support and help in embracing the change imperatives. Your engagement—asking hard questions, questioning assertions, offering insights and experiences to learn from, and lending your expertise—is critical if ISA is to act swiftly to meet the challenges of 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.