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The Time for Change Is Now

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Associations can be slow to change. In some ways, it’s the nature of the beast: when you have many stakeholders with diverse needs and interests, it can be hard to decide what to focus on and even harder to make decisions about major changes. But with a rapidly changing profession, an increasingly competitive environment for associations, and professionals who rightly expect high value from the money they spend and time they invest as volunteers, MLA can’t afford to take things slowly right now.

When it came time to hire a new executive director, the board sought an experienced change leader. And in Kevin Baliozian, we got it! Three weeks into his new job, Kevin was eager to guide the board through a reexamination of the MLA strategic plan, transforming it into an action-oriented document focused on MLA’s high-priority areas of action. (Read about Kevin’s background in the February MLA News.)

Three Mondays ago, the board met in Chicago, just days after a 19-inch snowfall. (Yes, we have impeccable timing.) We reflected on the report from the MLA Futures Task Force, feedback from members from the open forum at MLA ’14, and other data to put together a plan that will guide MLA for the next 3 years.

In a brain-busting strategic planning session, supported by lots of diagrams and scribbled notes, the board identified four strategic goals specific to transforming MLA:

  1. What MLA does: Rationalize MLA programs and services and streamline and clarify organizational structure
  2. New professionals: Align MLA programs, services, and governance with new professional members' needs and expectations
  3. Education: Strengthen MLA’s educational curriculum and offerings
  4. Technology: Rationalize and transform MLA information and communication systems

What do you think of these goals? Are we on the right track? Let us know.

While we thaw out, we’re working on the broad strategies and the specific objectives of how to take these goals from dreams to reality. Also, we know that once we’ve identified which changes to make, they need to happen fast: hence the name of this blog, “Full Speed Ahead.”

We want to involve everyone who’s part of MLA in this vision, from the 30,000-foot view to the nitty-gritty details. On this blog, you can expect an ongoing conversation about the 4 goals and the strategies we’re using to reach them. You’ll also hear about what changes are on the horizon and how they’ll improve your experience as an MLA member.

You’ll hear from me, Kevin, board members, MLA staff, and leaders of MLA units like sections and committees. If you have an idea for a post or would like to contribute a post yourself, please comment below!

I know that this process of change is something that many of you are also involved with at your own institutions. Help us learn from your experiences by sharing in the comments: How are you taking action on change in your organization?

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