Strategic Plan Sets the Bar High

Director's Corner

"Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier."

This quote by inventor Charles Kettering describes our profession. It is the basis for scientific discovery and prospecting for petroleum and energy-related minerals.

In this EXPLORER you will find AAPG's Strategic Plan, which looks into the frontier of our collective future. The plan is an important document, and I urge you to take time to read it, contemplate its direction and see if you agree with its conclusions.

I also urge you to respond directly to me by e-mail at FRITZ, or in writing to P.O. Box 979, Tulsa, Okla. 74101.


The creation of our strategic plan started last year, when then-AAPG President Steve Sonnenberg asked Dan Smith, chair of the Advisory Council, to develop of a comprehensive strategic plan. After some evaluation, we asked Paul Meyer of Tecker and Associates to help facilitate the plan's development, working with the Executive Committee, Advisory Council, divisions and staff.

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"Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier."

This quote by inventor Charles Kettering describes our profession. It is the basis for scientific discovery and prospecting for petroleum and energy-related minerals.

In this EXPLORER you will find AAPG's Strategic Plan, which looks into the frontier of our collective future. The plan is an important document, and I urge you to take time to read it, contemplate its direction and see if you agree with its conclusions.

I also urge you to respond directly to me by e-mail at FRITZ, or in writing to P.O. Box 979, Tulsa, Okla. 74101.


The creation of our strategic plan started last year, when then-AAPG President Steve Sonnenberg asked Dan Smith, chair of the Advisory Council, to develop of a comprehensive strategic plan. After some evaluation, we asked Paul Meyer of Tecker and Associates to help facilitate the plan's development, working with the Executive Committee, Advisory Council, divisions and staff.

Please note that the plan is not designed to be an exact document. Think of it as a road map. The purpose is to define the Association's ultimate destination. We may take a detour here or find a new road there, but in the end we know the direction and design of our journey. This allows us to build better business plans for the immediate future.

Assumptions About the Relevant Future are important to read, because they are the basis for the plan.

In the first assumption under demographics, for example, the plan states that "the industry's professional community will increasingly become global." You may think that this is just stating the obvious, but it sparked a lively debate among participants about whether AAPG is really an international organization (domestic entity with international members) or a truly global organization (worldwide mindset).

Most agreed that AAPG is the former, but would move to the latter, so we should prepare and plan for this eventuality.

Some of the assumptions may need to be adjusted, such as "Global Business," where we state that "oil prices will remain somewhat predictable and within a stable range." Of course, this depends on whether you are discussing current conditions or an average into the future.

The next section, 10-15 Year Planning Horizon, contains members' thoughts on the Association's philosophy. We state in the "Core Purpose" that "AAPG members want to advance the science and profession of energy-related geosciences worldwide." This is a simple expression, but it is important that the majority of members agree on the core purpose in order to set plans for the Association's future.

The last part of the philosophic planning horizon is the envisioned future. This is a statement of the ultimate goal — of "setting the bar" so high that it is almost impossible to reach.

This section contains a "wish list" of goals that should guide AAPG in the detailed planning of each of AAPG's programs.

The details of the plan are contained in the 1-10 Year Planning Horizon. This section is divided into goal areas that describe the strategic objectives for each of AAPG's programs. It also includes the priorities for each objective. It is this section that the AAPG leadership and staff will use to build and maintain its five-year business plan.

The last section, 5-10 Year Planning Horizon, is a set of "Mega Issues" for the society. Essentially, it is a series of key questions that are asked when considering the strategic objectives, such as:

  • How will AAPG address the increasing interest in alternative energy technologies?
  • Do we plan for this?
  • Do we build programs for our members for working on alternative energy?

As each of these questions is answered, it further defines our direction.


The ultimate goal of strategic planning is to set the stage for tactical operations on a day-to-day basis. It allows us to examine each program and decide how it fits into the future. Should we keep it, maintain it, or grow it? The strategy allows us to decide which new programs to accept and develop for the membership.

Success is often dictated by effort and, since we have limited resources, we do not want that effort misplaced. The strategic plan helps the AAPG leadership and staff work more efficiently.

Members who participated in the strategic process defined AAPG's "Big Audacious Goal" as "To be indispensable to all professionals in the energy-related geosciences worldwide." This is basically saying that AAPG would like to work toward a goal where every geoscientist needs to be a member of AAPG to do their work and achieve their professional goals.

This is high mark, but it is certainly one worth the effort.

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