The Consultant - 2016 - (Page 7)
FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
The Elephant in
really tried to write this without mentioning the strategic plan because it
hasn't been finalized. But whatever topic
I chose ended up alluding to the strategic
plan while awkwardly not mentioning it.
I finally resigned myself to addressing the
elephant in the room. The strategic plan is
fundamental to the nature of ACF, where
the organization is going and even whether
it will be around in another 70 years.
Let me be clear-I am not trying to
influence the outcome of the strategic plan.
My job is to follow the plan once adopted
and, at the right time, hand over a viable
organization to my successor.
This is the second strategic plan during
my tenure at ACF. Discussions have often
focused on the qualifications for membership. What degrees qualify? Which schools
have acceptable programs? How much
experience is required? ad infinitum...
On reflection, it seems to me that an
enormous amount of energy has been
spent on maintaining standards for an
era that has largely passed. Think about
the makeup of your staff and the types of
clients you serve. Has consulting forestry
changed in recent decades? At last year's
ethics forum, much value was placed on
the intentions of the founders of ACF.
Such thinking will keep the organization looking backward instead of moving
forward, stuck at some point buried in the
mists of time.
I am all for honoring the past-I'm just
not in favor of living in it. As an association
professional who has been down this road
before, I feel obligated to help you navigate
around some potholes.
* First, we don't always know what the
founders were thinking.
* Second, focus on the big questions; the
small stuff will fall into place.
* Third, don't indulge in magical thinking.
The founders of ACF were visionaries;
they responded to an opportunity they saw
to create a new profession. Rather than
"what were they thinking in 1948?" a better
question might be "what type of organization would the founders create today?" Add
in the changes to land ownership, markets,
the Internet, social media, millennials and
the pressures of day-to-day life. Would
the membership process be streamlined?
Would the credentials be the same?
Those are some of the questions that
executive committee members are currently tackling. The responses to the membership survey and focus groups indicate
that many ACF members are grappling
with these same thorny issues. From the
survey we know that ACF members are
In my estimation, the really big question
is how to maintain the intangible qualities that make ACF members so unique. I
doubt it is has anything to do with where
members went to school, whether or not
they practice in a large or small firm, or
even the type of organization they work in.
The primary benefit cited by ACF
members in the survey is networking with
like-minded professionals. If expanding
the network increases the benefit to all,
can this be done without sacrificing the
essence of ACF?
So, focus on the intent of the plan and
not the details. Your elected leaders will do
their best to listen to the members, heed
expert advice and scan the practice of consulting forestry today. If something in the
plan isn't working, it will be adjusted. Give
it a chance and then evaluate the next step.
What you can't do is stick your head in the
sand and ignore the facts by indulging in
Magical thinking occurs when decisions
are made according to what we would wish
instead of by relying on evidence, rationality or reality. Magical thinking leads us to
insanity by Albert Einstein's definition:
"doing the same thing over and over again
and expecting different results."
Wanting more members just like the
ones we have hasn't produced results. We
know this because that was the goal of
the last strategic plan. Maybe membership
would have declined without new membership materials and the efforts put forth by
many, but it certainly hasn't grown.
The membership numbers are deceptive. Quite a few current full members
are in their 70s. While I certainly wish
them long lives, at some point they will
retire. There is no way to get around the
fact that membership will decline unless
I do think there is one lesson we can
take from the founders and the greatest
generation. They put the welfare of the
group ahead of self-interest. That is why
the ACF Code of Ethics prohibits referral fees between consulting foresters.
Belonging to a strong, respected organization benefits every single member
I know you are waiting to hear about
the strategic plan, and you will after the
first of the year. You may not agree with
every detail, but you probably do support
the long-term survival of the organization. Have faith in your elected leaders,
give the plan a chance and stay tuned.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Consultant - 2016
From the Executive Director: The Elephant in the Room
From the President ACF – We Join You
Member Profile: Keville Larson, Renaissance Forester
The Value of a Consulting Forester
Fracking and the Landowner
Two Weeks at the Gates of Hell
If It Walks Like a Duck and Quacks Like a Duck…
Proposed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Regulations from the FAA
Cross-Border Trade Disputes Heat Up
Will Small Firms Have to Specialize to Survive?
The Cradle of Forestry
Products & Services Buyers’ Guide
Index of Advertisers
A Call to Order
The Consultant - 2016