AN OPEN LETTER TO MEMBERSHIP FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Dear IDSA members,
I always enjoy the start of a new year because of the optimism and excitement it brings. It’s a chance to reset and refocus on the goals, both personally and professionally, that will set the direction for the next 12 months. I’m very happy to report that despite the challenges of COVID-19 over the past two years, the organization has maintained its financial health and we have a great momentum propelling us forward. While there is no denying the difficulties each of us have faced during the pandemic, I sincerely hope you too can feel energized for the endeavors you have planned for the year ahead.
With IDSA’s Board of Directors, I am pleased to share the following Membership Update. Our goal is to provide insight into what we have been working on and communicate where our organizational vision is set. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to watch our most recent membership meeting presentation (from October 2021) for some additional details about IDSA's performance and future planning.
2022 Strategic Focus Areas
Establishing a ‘north star’ direction is an important part of ensuring our discussions, decisions, and actions stay focused. At the start of each year, I collaborate with the Board of Directors and IDSA headquarter team to align our priorities and center our efforts around themes that will provide guidance for the work ahead of us. We identify and define goals based on a variety of factors including: the needs of the organization, industry trends, operational metrics, and more. For 2022, we aim to be:
We have been actively working to improve our ability to collect and analyze data from all areas of our operations. This effort to learn more about our wide spectrum of programmatic and membership experiential touchpoints is in turn helping us become more efficient and effective in providing a high-quality service to our community.
The recent membership survey (conducted in 2021) is one such example of how we can proactively collect feedback and basic demographic information from those in our network. The insights gleaned from that survey have already influenced our plans and strategies for the year(s) ahead. You can see key takeaways and findings of the membership survey here.
Let me be clear, being Data-Centric is not about nefariously exploiting trust or inappropriately using personal information (see IDSA’s Data Policy). Instead, it’s about leveraging the tools and platforms available to facilitate sound decision making and ensuring that IDSA programming aligns with the true needs and desires of our community.
When visualized on a stakeholder map, the vast network of individuals, academic institutions, and organizations that make up the IDSA community is an intricate tapestry of interconnected players. At the center of our map is the IDSA member. Everything we do should first be at the service and needs of our members. I believe that providing for our membership first will help us improve retention and demonstrate our place of value for the industrial design profession. Of course, we can't outright ignore the larger ID community as we have an opportunity (and an obligation) to serve them as well. While certain benefits are exclusive to membership status, we strive to make as much of our programming as accessible as possible to anyone who is interested in participating. We steadfastly believe that being inclusive is the best way to create space for diverse voices to be heard and worthwhile conversations to be had.
Being Member-Centric is about understanding the shifts of one’s career journey over time (for example, the needs of a student are hugely different from those of a seasoned professional) and mapping our programs to support you each step of the way. It’s about using the feedback we receive (see Data-Centric) to improve and adjust our offerings in ways that maximize their impact.
As I’ve previously written, I maintain that the IDSA value proposition is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The expectations of our members continue to grow and evolve over time (see Member-Centric) and how we respond to these shifts is paramount to IDSA being able to deliver clear value. This means that our tangible benefits, like INNOVATION magazine or attending an event, are produced to a high quality, and that our intangible benefits, like the growth of your personal network over time or taking a moment to give back to the community at a student portfolio review, are realized in such a way that makes a clear distinction: that IDSA is always there to support your professional journey as an industrial designer.
Operationally, being Value-Centric is about focusing our efforts on programming that delivers the most ROI for those who participate. Practically, I also realize that times are tough and that participating in IDSA-related activities can sometimes mean sacrificing something else in your personal or professional life. Our goal is to ensure that the time you do spend with us is a gateway to experience something uniquely meaningful to you as an individual.
Upcoming in 2022
In our first steps towards turning these strategies into action, there are two specific areas I’d like to tell you about where we are investing time and financial resources this year.
Community Leadership & Professional Development
2022 will be a pivotal year for our Chapters and Sections. Several Chapters have thrived in an all-virtual environment, and some have even returned to having small in-person gatherings. Many of our Sections also regularly host their own virtual events and connect to industry happenings around the country. Yet, for a variety of reasons, some IDSA groups have gone dormant and will need increased levels of attention to get things moving again. While it is common to have these kinds of active/inactive cycles over long stretches of time, we know that this year in particular will require increased levels of support as we navigate complexities of the ongoing the pandemic.
Additionally, 2022 is the beginning of a new term for Chapter Leaders, which requires dedicated onboarding and coaching to get everyone set up for success. To coincide with this effort, we are piloting a new ‘Community Leadership Institute’ which will include dedicated training for Chapter and Section Leaders in: diversity / equity / inclusion (DEI), leadership / management, chapter finances, social media / communications, event planning, and more. Our goal with this training is to provide valuable professional development opportunities for our volunteer leaders that will empower them in their work as community leaders and enhance their skillset in professional settings.
IDSA’s website receives over 1.4 million visitors per year. It is responsible for housing nearly six decades of organizational and industrial design history while also being a focal point for news and information related to IDSA’s year-round programming. Our current website was built and launched in 2013. It has served us well over the past nine years, but a lot has changed since then in terms of web technology, user expectation, and content curation. In 2022, we will begin efforts to update our website with new features, functionality, security, and database integrations. More specifically, this will include improved mobile responsiveness, members-only content, enhanced layout / design, and a refreshed content management strategy with streamlined information hierarchy and navigation.
We are excited to embark on this project to significantly improve IDSA’s online presence and enrich your experience as a member of our Society. The new website is targeted to launch in early 2023.
If you would like to share your thoughts on what you would like to see in our new website, please fill out this short survey. Thank you.
The strategies and investment areas described here are in place to serve dual purposes. First, they guide our plans for 2022 at a tactical level. Second, they lay the groundwork and align resources for future success. While on the surface they may not seem new or groundbreaking, I can assure you that our approach in 2022 builds upon our success over the past several years and represents a new chapter of existence for our association. As with any iterative process, we will adjust where needed along the way and refine the details as they become ingrained in our operational processes and realized through tangible improvements in the IDSA experience.
Whether you are new to IDSA or have been with us for decades, I want to thank you for being part of our organization and for the contributions you have made, large or small, to make IDSA what it is today. It is through our collective efforts that we demonstrate the value of our community and solidify the legacy of industrial design as a vital professional practice for years to come.
Chris Livaudais, IDSA
Executive Director - Industrial Designers Society of America