More Commentary on ISA...

Terry Molloy, former Executive Board member, writes: What do I want to be when I grow up? Everyone has ideas and since most of our group are bright people they are typically good ideas. Jim Pinto and Walt Boyes make a good point about going international in the right way as well as their observation about the demonstrated lack of interest in North America. However, I think Diana is closer to the heart of the problem. We have lost some great leaders during the last several years and those that remain are indeed just warming their chairs waiting for something good to happen. "That ain't happen folks" and the reason is clear; the ISA staff want to keep their jobs and many of the Executive Board are salespersons by training. The user community is almost extinct as far as representation at the higher levels of ISA leadership, so what do we have to look forward to from ISA? When I was on the Executive Board I suggested that we look to Rotary as a model for being organized on both a national and an international level. That suggestion was totally ignored. On Tuesday I attended a Rotary meeting where I heard Dr. Peter Bretan speak about his recent trip to the Philippines and the kidney transplants he and his all-volunteer team performed. Peter's credentials and his accomplishments are remarkable, but even more remarkable are his commitment to his profession and the desire to make this world a better place to live. Peter started by telling us about how his father almost died when he (Peter) was ten years old, but was saved by a surgeon. Peter said that he would never forget seeing the doctor walking toward him down the hall with a smile on his face. The doctor grabbed Peter's arm and put his other hand on Peter's shoulder and said, "Your dad's going to be alright; we used a new procedure." The doctor then turned and walked away. Peter said that he knew then that his goal in life was going to be to make others feel the way he felt at that moment. Rotary attracts people like Peter because the volunteer leadership and Rotary staff keep their eye on the ball - "Service Above Self." ISA only deals with "one" profession where Rotary deals with multiple professions and perhaps that is the Rotary advantage. But I think it is more about facilitating the opportunities for our volunteers to serve our industry and improve the application of the technology. I thought that was the ISA mission. ISA currently focuses too much on making money to support its staff and expensive management team and almost nothing on supporting local member needs. Every new "program" ISA presents is designed to make money to support the staff that implements it. Unfortunately this staff needs to make a living and thus these programs are offered at "market rate." I am not going to donate my time, energy, and knowledge to a business that charges my fellow professionals "market rate" for that effort. Why not just provide the services myself at a more competitive rate without all the overhead? The deal breaker for many of us was the "Standard's Subscription." The original objective was to make ALL ISA Standards available to ISA members for free if the standard could be downloaded via the Internet. The Executive Board agreed to a $25 annual charge because ISA Staff said that was the only way they could track who was using the service. We all now know where that service is at today. We might also take a moment to reflect on how active the promoters of the original ISA Free Standards concept are today in ISA. In closing I leave you with this thought: Do we want ISA to become a "for profit business" or do we want to continue as a not for profit professional technical society? The "for profit business option" could change our tax status and the size of our war chest if the Council of Society Delegates were to approve it; something I cannot see happening. So, maybe we should focus on selling off or otherwise "dumping" the businesses that require the expensive staff and management teams (We could move them to ISASI). Then move toward facilitating motivated members (I am sure we have many potential Peter Bretan's in our profession they are just not currently active members.) to fulfill the ISA mission. Have a great week! Terry V. Molloy, P.E.
Show Comments
Hide Comments

Join the discussion

We welcome your thoughtful comments.
All comments will display your user name.

Want to participate in the discussion?

Register for free

Log in for complete access.


  • <p>Terry et all:</p> <p>Response to Terry Molly's comments.</p> <p>1/ Yes, the Rotary model is great. Use volunteers where you can, but don't allow them to run the show. As Diana said, "The days of the volunteer-led professional associations are over."</p> <p>2/ Stop complaining that the ISA staff is too focused on "making money" - they're good people, and that's their job. There should be someone (a leader) at ISA focused on the NEEDS of members, as part of their job. A good, "executive" director will assure that this vital part of his business is indeed vital. People MUST WANT TO JOIN. Volunteers won't help. Membership objective: 100,000 members worldwide.</p> <p>3/ Stop complaining about all the old Standards fees and other "deal breakers". That was the OLD ISA. The new ISA will provide what the members WANT as part of their membership. Again, look at the stuff ARC does for $$$$$.</p> <p>4/ Stop worrying about things like "tax status" - it just gets us focused on the wrong things which have no answer. We get bogged down with the wrong problems. What use will "tax status" be when ISA is defunct?</p> <p>Again, guys - let's focus on the positive actions we can take. Are we going to allow the 18 member executive board to "vote" to get rid of themselves? Someone (Dick Morley?) needs to sell them on "lead, follow, or get out of the way!"</p> <p>Cheers: jim</p>


  • <p>Jim,</p> <p>You probably had not seen my response to Diana when you wrote this.</p> <p>I still believe that the "for profit" side of ISA has to go to ISASI and our "war chest" to the volunteer organization currently based in the USA. We then need to develop a membership growth structure that allows new sections to be formed in new areas for the sole purpose of supporting our mission as a not for profit organization. The role of that organization should be:</p> <ul><li>To support I&amp;C standards development, use, and distribution;</li> <li>Coordinate the development of training programs for the local sections to use as a revenue source;</li> <li>Identify other activities or programs that will enhance our members ability practice their profession through the use of rewards for the members' volunteerism,</li> <li>Maintain an effective communications program / link between the local sections, the national organization, and the international sections so that the ISA mission of advancing the technology and the skills of those practicing our profession remain the primary focus of the ISA worldwide.</li> </ul> <p>The hard part is going to be to put the organization structure in place; again I suggest we look to Rotary as a starting point.</p>


  • <p>Jim,</p> <p>I think we are just a little out of synchronization here.</p> <p>I will say it one more time - we need two organizations. The one real problem I see is that our competitive advantage is the effort of our volunteers, the sweat equity as we call it in Rotary. We will be little more than another business competing with market rate people providing market rate products in a market driven environment. What is our competitive advantage?</p> <p>I will gladly teach a local section what I know about process control, but I will be damned if I will spend my time and effort developing that course so ISA staff can sell it to my fellow professional to pay their market rate salaries. I can think of no reason to do that! The value ISA has to offer comes from the knowledge the members are willing to share with one another.</p> <p>Jim / ALL - How does the model being proposed have a chance in hell of succeeding in a competitive market? At this point the ONLY competitive advantage I can see is the current technical knowledge assets and our "war chest." If I were on the Board I would strongly oppose this model, as I believe the war chest will be wasted and the technology will become obsolete in five to ten years. Much like our struggle to revise the structure of the Executive Board because the Executive Committee saw that the District VP's were going to have too much power if the plan to go international actual succeeded, this plan does not deal with how we will maintain our competitive advantage when there is no longer free knowledge flowing into the society.</p> <p>Maybe we will be in sync now.</p>


RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments