The Consultant - 2016 - (Page 7)

FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR The Elephant in the Room Lynn Wilson I 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. THE CONSULTANT 2016 * 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 expecting change. 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. 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 something changes. 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 of ACF. 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. 7

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

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