At the Forum’s Fall Meeting in Boston in October, the Governing Committee adopted a strategic plan for the Forum on the Construction Industry for the years 2012 through 2016. Under the leadership and direction of Ava J. Abramowitz, the various groups met on numerous occasions to develop a strategic plan to chart the course for the Forum for the next several years. Our mission and our vision are bold. Our goals are achievable.
Andy Ness, the current Chair of the Forum, described the overall strategic planning process in the last issue of Under Construction. Andy discussed the “big picture” side of strategic planning; the question of the Forum’s role now and in the future. He also discussed going a step further in “seeing the Forum as becoming the voice of construction lawyers within the broader context of the construction industry’s other significant players.” What has been approved by the Governing Committee is a strategic plan that envisions the Forum’s role now and in the future within the ABA, the Construction Bar and the construction industry, as well as directing us towards becoming the voice of construction lawyers. This is to be accomplished while maintaining the Forum values that have allowed so many of us the opportunity to participate, learn, and grow as construction attorneys and people.
Fortunately, we had Ava leading us in our discussions rather than Yogi Berra. Yogi is famous (or infamous) for quotes on planning which have been attributed to him such as: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”; “You can observe a lot by watching”; “This is like déjà-vu, all over again.” Ava steered us through forks in the roads, made us not just watch but participate, and kept us from the malaise of déjà-vu all over again. She challenged us, questioned us, and inspired us.
The strategic plan contains a mission statement, a vision and an envisioned future. There is a statement of core values and four goals – Program and Publication Delivery, Membership, Stewardship, and Fellowship. The plan is as follows:
Mission: The ABA Forum on the Construction Industry: Building the Best Construction Lawyers.
Vision: When people think “construction lawyer,” they think Forum first.
Envisioned Future: Every attorney who practices construction law has joined us, and yet we are still known for our collegiality. Opportunities to actively participate keep expanding. Our programs and membership are diverse. Every law school and court library subscribes to our publications and courts, arbitrators, and policy makers regularly rely on them. We are the “go to” resource within the construction industry for construction law, accessible and valued.
Core Values: In all our programs, people and publications, we value:
- Quality – We adhere to the highest professional standards in all that we do.
- Integrity – We have no personal agendas. We put the best interests of the Forum first. We are collaborative, transparent, and accountable.
- Fellowship – We are collegial, nurturing, inclusive, supportive, accessible, non-judgmental, welcoming, and mentoring.
- Openness and Diversity – We thrive on openness and diversity: of ideas, of people, of geographies, of clients, of practices, and of experiences.
Goal I – Program and Publication Delivery: Become the construction lawyer’s primary resource for professional development and thought leadership.
- Create and implement a continuous improvement system for publications and program delivery.
- Identify, implement, and evaluate alternative program and publication delivery methods.
- Improve the marketing of our programs and publications to non-members as well as to members.
Goal II – Membership: Increase, diversify, retain and engage members.
- Recruit ABA members who declare construction law as an area of concentration to become Forum members.
- Increase diversity within membership, leadership, publications, and programs.
- Increase the enrollment of Forum members in Divisions.
- Increase the number of associate members.
Goal III – Stewardship: Ensure the sustainability of the Forum.
- Evaluate the adequacy and sustainability of our financial policies, procedures, and programming decisions in light of our new Mission, Vision, and Values.
- Determine which brand would best sustain the Forum and how it should be used.
Goal IV – Fellowship: Provide a community of fellowship for construction lawyers.
- Provide members increased opportunities to socialize.
Now comes the hard part. We have challenging, but reachable goals. Like all strategic plans, it cannot be accomplished in one year. The steps will take several years. Moreover, the plan cannot be successful without your participation. As Ava said, when the Governing Committee passed the plan unanimously, “More than Forum fifty members joined in to devise the plan; We will need the energy and commitment of scores more to see it to fruition. Luckily for the Forum, we have just the membership to do it.” My goal as Chair-Elect of the Forum is to focus on implementing the strategic plan. I welcome your help.
In a previous message in Under Construction, Andy Ness talked about having fun in the Forum. He was not talking about just the social events at Forum meetings. He was also talking about the entire Forum experience of active participation in the Forum and its work. The strategic plan requires plenty of work, and you can help. There will be plenty of opportunities to participate. Take advantage of those opportunities. These include writing, participating in divisions or committees, speaking and editing. As former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry said, “Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.” Your efforts, by volunteering and participating in activities to advance the Forum’s strategic plan, will decide the success of this strategic plan. And in keeping with Andy Ness’s goal of fun, we will have fun while we implement the plan.
I also want to take a moment to identify two key people who will help the Forum as it moves forward with its strategic plan. Bridget Miller started as the Forum’s manager on July 2. Bridget serves as the primary liaison between the Forum and the ABA, providing executive and administrative support to the Governing Committee, Standing Committees, and Divisions. She advises leadership of substantive and procedural aspects of ABA policy, develops and monitors Forum budgets, and oversees the marketing and production of Forum national, regional, and Governing Committee meetings and programs. Prior to joining the Forum, Bridget served as a program and events manager in the ABA Division for Legal Services and as the meetings and membership manager for the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. Many of you either met or saw Bridget at the Fall Meeting in Boston.
Kim Nelson is our technology assistant. Kim joined the ABA Forums (there are six Forums including the Forum on the Construction Industry) as an administrative assistant in April of 2009. We share Kim with the other five Forums of the ABA. She became involved with the Forum’s website as the ABA transitioned to the current CQ5 operating platform in early 2011. Last winter, Kim was promoted to the Forums Technology Associate. Kim updates and maintains the website content for our Forum and the ABA’s other Forums. She provides support for e-mail distribution lists, meeting attendee sites, e-newsletters, and all other technological platforms.
I tell my children the benefit they get out of something is the result of what they put into it. The Forum’s strategic plan has plenty of opportunity for all Forum members. What you and the Forum will get out of the strategic plan will be a result of all of our efforts.