I spent this past weekend in a conference room with 50 of my fellow AIA Colorado chapter board members. Organization leaders, representing all parts of our state, gave up a good portion of their weekend to spend debating the future of our organization. We were asked to attend this All-Board retreat to discuss the repositioning of AIA Colorado. The AIA Repositioning initiative was first introduced in March at the annual AIA Grassroots Leadership conference in Washington DC. Since then, those of us on AIA Colorado chapter boards have been told that this national initiative was going to affect our state and local chapters. Turning the focus to the AIA membership, and creating an “A(WE)A” campaign, AIA National dedicated itself to change the context, business, and practice of architecture. The AIA has realized that in order to stay relevant with the “New Normal” of our profession our organization needs to change. And change, we will.
This weekend we were charged with the task of taking a long hard, very hard, look our organization and evaluating how we could make it better – putting our focus on the members of AIA Colorado. As a member-driven organization, AIA Colorado’s primary responsibility is to provide the best programs, educational opportunities, professional services, networking opportunities, etc. to its members. This weekend, we asked ourselves the questions “How are we doing?” “What can we do better?” and “How can we align ourselves with the current and future trends of our profession?” With the help from Harrison Coerver, author of the book Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations, and the AIA Colorado staff we began our debate over what, if anything, needed to change.
Everything was on the table – from the number of Boards we have as a state to the number of people on each board to whether or not the annual golf tournament provided true member value. We discussed how our organization operates as a non-profit, how the AIA Colorado staff spend their time and how might they spend their time if we began to restructure the organization, and why, in today’s age of technology, our conference call lines still sound like we’re calling China, in the 1980’s. Our conversations got heavy, people’s ideas where challenaged, radical ideas were suggested, voices were heard, and changes were made. Changes are coming.
The idea of change often makes us want to stay the same even more. Change makes most of us uncomfortable. When faced with change we’re often afraid, scared, skeptical to step through the door into the unknown. But, what if that door leads us to a better future? Isn’t it worth taking a step forward rather than staying in a present that clearly isn’t working any more? That answer, by the way, is yes it is worth it. What’s going to happen within our organization in the next couple of weeks, months, years is going to be different. It’s going to be unfamiliar and will probably take some time to get used to. You’re beloved annual event might not take place in the future. You’re favorite committee might no long exist. But, if you put your trust in your leaders and fellow AIA members, I can promise you that all of this will be for the better. These changes are going to make us a better organization. These changes are going to make us better professionals. These changes are going to make us better architects. And really, when it comes right down to it, is that what we all want?