This post is authored by Steven W. Pflantz, president of ISA 2017.
The ISA Fall Leaders Meeting (FLM)—which will get underway later this month in Tampa, Florida—brings ISA leaders together to assess the state of the Society, consider strategies and actions to improve operational results, conduct training sessions for new leaders, plan for leadership succession, celebrate achievements, and promote fellowship.
For the seasoned member and/or leader, it is a great place to reconnect with your peers. A lot of ISA business gets conducted over the course of the weekend. Think of it as an opportunity to review the current year and get a glimpse of what is to come next year.
One of the key objectives is to give new members and leaders a chance to see how the Society works. There are a number of Society-level meetings that allow one to learn what it takes to run ISA, and how members can contribute to ISA operations. Nearly all these meetings are open, allowing attendees to observe leadership in action and gain first-hand insights into the inner workings of the Society. And if what you see interests and inspires you, there are a number of people that you can speak with to learn more and find out how you can be a part of it all.
Leadership volunteers for ISA are in short supply, and if one is willing, there are many way to contribute. The key is to remember that participation is voluntary, and you can take part at any level and degree you want. If you want to limit your involvement, there are committees you can join that involve a fixed commitment. If you seek more extensive service, there are elected leadership positions that you can fill. Please take advantage of the opportunity to speak with any of the leaders you see, as they are all more than willing to share what they do and why they choose to do it. If you think you are not welcome to approach any of the leaders and talk with them, you are wrong. Give it a try.
For those who are seasoned, and in “the mix” of things, you know what is going on for the most part. The one thing I want to stress is for you to take this time to work with your fellow leaders and think strategically about what it is we need to do. There is a great need to train new leaders on their roles, but think more about what can be done remotely versus face to face. Take the time we have together to think “big picture” issues, to think outside the box, to brainstorm about what it is we need to do, to do better, or do differently.
The solutions to our challenges lie more in the strategies we implement and not so much in the details of how we operate. I see a lot of you getting tied up in knots worrying about small details when we need to be looking at a grander scale. We need ideas that will help us find new members and new customers. Those two groups of people are the fundamental to our long-term health and future.
Members are the lifeblood of this organization. They are the ones that lead us, as well as the ones that create and contribute the intellectual property we offer to our members, and to others in the automation profession. We are not a “members-only club.” We need to understand that the majority of our product sales and revenue come from non-dues paying members. Think of our customers as the means to sustaining our organization. A majority of them are not members, but they find great value in what we have to offer. They provide a lot of the revenue that allows us to operate. We need a healthy balance of both to make it all happen.
These are just a few things to keep in mind as we all get together at the FLM and assume the leadership roles we have opted to undertake. Sure, our challenges are many, but the rewards are equally as plentiful. We can make a difference in the world and, for most of you, I think knowing that is more than enough to make it all worthwhile.
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.