This article will provide a short overview of the One Society initiative, giving you a brief history, the current state, and the desired future state that ISPI leadership at all levels is working toward. This is a call to action for all chapter members of the Society to engage in One Society and enable ISPI to build a robust, global community of practice among members at all levels.

The topic of One Society has been around ISPI since as far back as 1994. Over the past two decades, there has been a great deal of discussion to define exactly what it means and what the desired end-state is. The focus of these efforts has consistently been centered on strengthening chapters and redefining the relationship with the international society. Significant progress was made in 2010 by the “One Society Taskforce.” A new Chapter Affiliation Agreement was ratified and the performance support toolset “Chapter in a box” was developed to help existing and forming chapters structure their operations on a model that has proven to work for other chapters. Most recently, Rose Noxon, Chapter Partnership Committee chair for 2011-2012, developed a robust toolset for chapters called the “Chapter Strategy and Tactics Workbook,” a menu of key activities a chapter should do. The workbook guides a chapter in the creation of a plan that describes what success looks like and how to track progress over the year. It can be used as a means to gauge chapter health and communicate areas a chapter is working on.

As work on the One Society concept was progressing last year, key stakeholders from the membership and staff were also working with the Board on a new vision and mission for ISPI. These were approved early in 2013 as follows:

Vision: Performance improvement practices are recognized globally as an essential part of every organization’s competitive strategy.

Mission: ISPI and its members use evidence-based performance improvement research and practices to effect sustainable, measurable results and add value to stakeholders in the private, public, and social sectors.

The new vision and mission were crafted with the intention of changing from being internally focused on the member to a focus on the value that ISPI and its members deliver to society as a whole, in the spirit of Dr. Roger Kaufman’s mega planning model and how ISPI will contribute to the world we want to help create for tomorrow’s child.

This external shift in focus influenced the direction that your 2011-2012 Board of Directors felt that the One Society concept should take. This resulted in the approval of a new charter for the initiative:

The One Society Initiative will strengthen the relationship with, and impact of ISPI chapters, to increase membership and execute our shared mission in a sustainable manner.

Armed with this new direction, the 2012 Board of Directors met with a collection of chapter leaders at the Chapter Leader’s Workshop (CLW) at THE Performance Improvement Conference for 2013 in Reno, Nevada. The intent of this collaboration was to directly collect from chapter leaders what it is they need from ISPI to strengthen their chapters and redefine their relationship with the international society.

Current State

The information collected at the CLW has been analyzed by Board, staff, and Chapter Partnership Committee representatives. Using the Delphi method, a structured series of communications is now under way between the Society and chapter leaders to converge on what the correct construct is for the framework envisioned under the One Society banner.

At this point, you may be thinking, “I thought that a new outward looking direction was under way. Why are we still talking about strengthening chapters and redefining the relationship with the international society?” Good question!

Over the past several years, new forms of chapters have emerged. While the majority of chapters are still the traditional face-to-face model, we have welcomed corporate and academic sponsored chapters and virtual chapters, and some are moving to a more blended delivery model. This changing structure requires a more flexible framework for all these chapter models to exist and thrive within.

One Society is fundamentally a chapter-focused initiative driven by the need to make the business of ISPI sustainable at both the chapter and international levels. A great deal of effort and resources is expended by countless volunteers at the chapter and international levels and ISPI staff. The framework that is being developed will help to formalize the expectations of what the two groups expect from each other. This will in turn help to focus energy and resources where they are most effective. Sharing of resources between ISPI and the chapters and from chapter to chapter is an essential part of this puzzle.

At the same time, our Society needs consistent messaging and branding. Each of the chapters in ISPI, whether in Chicago or China, needs to present itself as an extension of the Society as a whole. When guests walk into a chapter meeting, we want them to know they are in their future professional home! While the Society as a whole relies on each chapter to do its part in this respect, the chapters need the international body to market externally to drive new membership at the local level. It is a mutually beneficial relationship.

Desired Future State

A robust global community of practice requires both local and international connections for the individual member. To be a credible and relevant organization that attracts performance improvement professionals, ISPI must first be consistent in its messaging, marketing, and branding. Equally important is adherence to the Society’s standards and support of the Certified Performance Technologist designation.

Finally, finding efficiencies through the sharing of technology, information, and knowledge among the Society as a whole is a critical element of the framework. Ideas that are currently being “floated” include a common website platform, event management application, webinar application, and further development of the ISPI presenters list into a database that everyone can contribute to.

Once the agreed on construct is arrived at, the next step will be for the Board, staff, and chapter leaders to develop the operational concept, followed by an implementation plan. The aim is to have this in place before THE Performance Improvement Conference 2014 in Indianapolis. There is much work to do; however, there are also many talented and committed members of ISPI at all levels rolling up their sleeves to get “the heavy lifting” done. If you have questions or concerns or want to help out, please feel free to contact Brett Christensen, Robin Stimson, or Tim Brock.