This month the question I’d like to consider is:
Do we do what we say we do regarding our AAPG business activities?
As I have been learning my way into AAPG’s activities as an organization and as a business I have been continually impressed by the incredibly broad range of things AAPG volunteers and AAPG staff are doing.
This can and should be considered something remarkable, of which we all should be very proud.
But it also has caused me to pause and ask myself if, along with our key functions, whether we are engaged in activities that might possibly be diffusive to our primary goals and purpose.
Some of this variability reflects the particular pet projects of a given Executive Committee or past president. In most cases, though, the numerous projects we do within AAPG are driven by energetic and enthusiastic volunteers who have a personal vision – and AAPG has provided money and a path to realizing that vision.
In aggregate we lumber forward, sometimes pulled by the inertia of all those interesting projects and sometimes slowed as various projects pull at odds to one another, thus diffusing the efficiency of AAPG and sucking money into activities that may not be consistent with our primary purposes.
Numerous conversations with David Curtiss and David Lange, our executive director and deputy executive director, respectively, have led me to the conclusion that our business is in great hands. These guys along with their directors and a very hard-working and focused staff are an impressive team, and this year they are bringing the first draft of a three-year business plan into effect for AAPG.
The three-year business plan will be developed in concert with and approved by the Executive Committee, tied directly to our primary goals and purposes as stated in the AAPG Bylaws and in AAPG’s long-term strategy document.
While the business plans are not considered written in stone, they will reflect a direct linkage to:
- AAPG’s goals and aspirations for the next year and beyond.
- AAPG’s long-term strategy document.
- Sound, conservative fiscal practice.
In a best-case scenario, the three-year business plan should be a living document, subject to revision on an annual basis but still linked to our long-arc strategic goals as we prepare for AAPG’s next century.
Having such a business plan in place will greatly assist in short- and long-term financial planning and in prioritizing expenditures. The plan will make it possible to budget in a fashion consistent with our strategic and tactical objectives, and will help us in funding the things at the core of our forward thrust – perhaps reducing expenditures on things that may not be as closely related to the goals and aspirations of AAPG.
All AAPG departments, Sections, Regions and committees ultimately will be tied into the business plan to assure that all of our activities are consistent with and focused upon the goals and priorities of AAPG.
A significant benefit to AAPG in having an evergreen three-year business plan is that it gives the EC and successive presidents of AAPG an opportunity to do business within a framework that is internally consistent.
Internal consistency, in turn, allows our business partners worldwide to depend upon what we say we will do.
In the process, a consistent business plan also will remove some of the whiplash that can occur in an organization where presidents change each year.
Randi Martinsen, our president-elect, will have input, along with the rest of the Executive Committee, to the three-year business plan. As she takes over the reigns from me next July, her incoming president-elect also will fold into this planning process.
In this way we can establish a consistent business practice that is less subject to the whims of any individual personality. This is critical in establishing and honoring business arrangements – especially in international settings, where a consistent tone and approach over multiple successive years is critical to establishing business credibility and trust.
Another critical aspect of our business planning is the issue of having a buffer in case of a downturn.
As we continue to expand our activities and services, the relative percentage of an operations year that our financial buffer covers becomes smaller. We have now fallen to slightly below a nine-month buffer.
In preparation for that “rainy day” that WILL come in our cyclical business, we will have to direct some of our surplus (when we have a surplus) toward building that buffer to 12-18 months. This has obvious potential implications for limiting expenditures or sun-setting programs at the fringe of our plan.
To build this financial strength, AAPG will have to focus on having more years with a modest surplus and fewer years of deficit. There are several impacts implicit in meeting this need, including where we schedule our ACE and ICE meetings. We would be remiss on behalf of our membership to allow AAPG to go under during an industry downturn because we failed to prepare ourselves properly.
So, let me hear from you …
If you have suggestions for ways we can be more fiscally prudent and improve AAPG’s financial strength, please send a note to me.
Let me know how AAPG can better do what we say we will do!