I was watching some old movies during a recent snowstorm in Tulsa. One of them was “Back to the Future.” In this case, “the future” was 2015. The movie “Rollerball” was set in 2018, and “Terminator” was supposed to be from 2020-30.
Have you ever noticed that the future is not that far away?
As you could see from my last column, I’ve had “the future” on my mind. So, in thinking again about the future, I want to discuss governance. This will not be my most exciting column, but it is important.
Governance is the structure of any organization. Over the next few months, you will hear more about reducing, limiting and removing governance as we discuss the future structure of AAPG.
The attached diagram shows the basic structure of AAPG as defined by the bylaws. Some might say it is too complicated, and others might say it is just right. Most members know AAPG governance as the AAPG Executive Committee, Advisory Council and House of Delegates. A lot of the strategic discussion we are having right now is about how to make AAPG more nimble and able to act quickly during this time of significant changes in our industry.
So let’s look at the pros and cons of governance.
Pros – governance provides:
- Management structure to make decisions and define strategy
- Organization to provide products and services
- Opportunities for members to participate and develop leadership skills
- A system to select members for office and honors and awards
- Sub-structures like the divisions, committees, TIGs and SIGs to provide opportunity for members to focus on areas of special interest
- Competitive elections to provide fair process and avoid cronyism
Cons – governance can:
- Require significant leadership and staff time to manage and maintain
- Add significant costs to an annual budget
- Be difficult to navigate and confusing to members
- Make it difficult to be flexible and make good, quick decisions especially in times of crisis
- Frustrate members as bylaw changes drag through the timelines of the Advisory Council and House of Delegates
- Restrict the number of members interested in running for office through competitive elections
One thing is certain: AAPG needs to make structural changes to survive. We need to ask questions, like, “Should the Executive Committee structure be changed?”, “Do we want to combine some of the Advisory Council duties into the Executive Committee?”, and “Do we need the House of Delegates structure the way it now stands?” “Should AAPG be completely restructured?”
I know these questions might be heresy to some members, and I do not know the answers. I do know we need to ask the questions. We cannot continue on the same old, worn path. We must streamline and lower costs to survive the next few decades.
One solution is clear: whatever we do with AAPG’s governance structure, we need to reduce the focus on governance. I’ll say it another way: we need to minimize governance now. I see entities in AAPG so focused on governance – officers, elections, meetings, agendas, bylaws, rules, procedures – that we forget to focus on products and services that will advance our mission and serve our members and profession. This includes the Executive Committee as well as the divisions, committees and the House of Delegates. It’s time to focus on what is most important – you and your fellow AAPG members.
A good example is the AAPG Membership Committee, which is part of the House of Delegates. This year we were facing significant member loss due to the economic and jobs impact from the COVID-19 virus. As a result, the Membership Committee went all out this year to contact dropped and suspended members. Due to the leadership of Steve Brachman, Kristie Ferguson, Bill Bosworth and John Casiano, we were able to maintain AAPG’s membership close to the numbers of the past two years, even during a pandemic. This is service. This is success.
In the days to come, we will ask the House of Delegates to examine the issue of governance, with help from the Advisory Council. I’m asking everyone to keep an open mind as we look for solutions.
Good governance is about leadership, transparency, accountability and efficiency in making informed decisions. But, of all these, the most important is consistent leadership with a clear strategic vision for the future. That’s our goal. That’s our promise.
Thanks for listening. Please let me know what you are thinking.