Jim Pinto's Plan to Save ISA

Aug. 19, 2005
Here's Jim's 6-point plan: 1.Radical change of governance"”encourage volunteer involvement, but limit it to advisory suggestions. This will work, provided governance is not left to the Former President's Club. They're the ones who have shot down any meaningful change for years. And this will work provided there is a major shakeup in staff management-- old agendas have to go. One of the biggest problems over the years, is that the staff has wanted (for obvious reasons) to run a business...
Here's Jim's 6-point plan: 1.Radical change of governance"”encourage volunteer involvement, but limit it to advisory suggestions. This will work, provided governance is not left to the Former President's Club. They're the ones who have shot down any meaningful change for years. And this will work provided there is a major shakeup in staff management-- old agendas have to go. One of the biggest problems over the years, is that the staff has wanted (for obvious reasons) to run a business, while the volunteers have wanted a professional society. 2.Change the executive committee to just five members, to include the President and Secretary (the President in waiting) plus three outside directors. The outsiders should be experienced, high-level industry executives from end-user, supplier and government ranks. This would work. Note the importance of the words "outside directors." The only ISA organization that currently has an outside director is ISASI-- ISA Services Inc., the for-profit subsidiary. The outside directors at ISASI have saved ISA's bacon more than once. It would be really important to make it impossible for the staff to simply "wait for a more favorable board." They've been doing that for years already. 3.Appoint an executive director with "real" executive powers"”the equivalent of a CEO. He or she must be marketing-orientated (not just administrative) and must be given strong growth/profit objectives with performance-based compensation. This executive must be empowered to hire and fire, and to change the employee compensation structure without board involvement. ISA has over 70 employees. That's twice as many as most associations its size. It doesn't need that many. A turn-around requires that the organization lose most of its senior managers and many employees. ISA needs to figure out what, in Terry Molloy's words "gives value to the member," and then do that. It is of critical importance that the executive director this time NOT be an ASAE association executive. ISA needs a strong turn-around expert at the helm. It might be interesting to see what would happen if ISA actually took Dick Morley up on his offer to run it for two years. 4.Utilize some of the war-chest to make significant acquisitions, to expand the scope and involvement of ISA to other complementary arenas. Well, duh. 5.Acquire ownership in several international subsidiaries in global growth areas. Again, duh. You can't be a global society if all the employees are located in RTP. Every major automation vendor company, and every multinational process manufacturing company has already figured that out. Why hasn't ISA figured this out already, I ask you? 6.Stop investing in the same, tired old "local" exhibitions which are primarily loss-making propositions. Support foreign exhibitions and conferences where there is enthusiastic attendance and burgeoning growth. D'you think somebody would buy the ISA Show? Maybe somebody who could run it better? The necessity for many of the financial and strategic decisions ISA has made over the past ten to fifteen years would go away, if the society weren't tied to the show. What do you think? Walt

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