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President's Message

Merci Beaucoup! Montreal in Review and Board of Director Priorities

By Scott Casad

It is pouring down rain as I leave Montreal and head back home to Virginia. As I write, today is my last day in Montreal after our kick-a$$ conference. This morning I wrote in an email to a potential ISPI partner for our fall symposium, “Our conference just wrapped up, and it was awesome. So much good energy, so much good food, and so many good friends. The ISPI Leap concept resonated with many people.”

I cannot summarize it any better. Our keynote speakers knocked it out of the park. Our diverse international panels, Executive Buzz, and social events reinforced the far reach of performance improvement and ISPI. The University Case Study again showed that our field will be in good hands in the future. We stacked up one engaging educational session after another for two whole days. We fostered new relationships with emerging chapters in the Southeast Asia, and flamed growing relationships with country development organizations like USAID. The conference was a huge success for ISPI.

We gave many rounds of applause for the enormous number of volunteers that stepped up to help ISPI, especially the Montreal Chapter (merci beaucoup). Without them, our small staff of 1.5 (yep, we had half a person running around … just kidding) could not have gotten everything done in the backgrounds. Maja Joakim once again donned her superhero cloak and delivered a knockout conference for the second year in a row. We bid farewell to Klaus Wittkuhn as the President of ISPI, and we acknowledge the huge sacrifice of Jeff McElyea, who freely gave his time (without pay) to serve as the Interim Executive Director for the past year. Klaus and Jeff deserve deep admiration and appreciation for their contributions and sacrifices.

We also announced the 16th Annual ISPI-EMEA Annual Conference in Bologna, Italy on September 14-16 ( This year’s theme is Reshape Ecosystems, Re-Imagine Organizations, Reinvent Performance Management. We hope you can join us for this intimate, highly interactive and strongly collaborative conference.

As I took the stage for the first time as President, I introduced our new Board of Directors and the ISPI Leap Year ( We are very fortunate to have Dr. Rose Noxon staying on for a second two-year term, and we are thrilled about our new directors: Dr. Nancy Burns, George Gu, and Dr. Ryan Watkins. Leaving the Board was Dick Handshaw. We also had one additional departure, Don Triner; however, through Don’s generosity he offered to serve as the pro bono Interim Executive Director, so that Jeff could return to his primary role as the Board Treasurer.

With all these moving pieces, the Society has put together an all-star team for moving ISPI forward and leading the change that continues to make the Society viable and sustainable. Very shortly we will issue additional information regarding next year’s annual conference, which will be held in Seattle, Washington (dates to be announced).

Following the conference, the Board met for two days to set our direction for the coming year. We spent the majority of our time reviewing the Society’s strategic intent and the alignment of strategic projects to propel that intention forward. We settled on a simple analogy. Some of us are hunting (seeking growth), and others of us are farming (cultivating our membership). Here is short summary of what that looks like. And just because it is not listed here does not mean we are not doing it. We cannot tackle everything at the same time, so priorities are needed.

ISPI is on the hunt. We recognize that there is a strategic imperative to make businesses, organizations and academia want and need performance improvement. They have the influence, they have the connections and they have the money. Once they are engaged, ISPI can deliver competent performance improvement practitioners and researchers. We have four strategic projects to drive growth.

  1. Formalize a Society marketing strategy and action plan. We require a systematic and systemic approach for communicating who we are, what we do, and why we are needed. This will help drive demand, which in return drives revenue. An overarching, long-term strategy for growth will be developed as well as focused action plans for promoting our conference/symposium, Chapters, workshops, and certifications/accreditation.
  2. Establish a university consortium or academic guild. Academia wants greater connection and deeper relationships with ISPI, and we do too! The concept of a guild will guide how those interactions and support can be strengthened. We have an untapped opportunity to grow synergy between ISPI, universities and local chapters, and in the process create greater meaning and influence.
  3. Create a structure for emerging international markets. The desire for performance improvement and request for ISPI partnerships is growing internationally, especially in Southeast Asia. As a North American-based Society, what works here will not likely work everywhere. We require policies and processes for ensuring open, fair and transparent relationships with new ISPI Chapters and business partners.
  4. Develop additional certification and accreditation opportunities. We repeatedly hear about the challenges to meet the high standards set for acquiring designation as a Certified Performance Technologist (CPT), specifically that our newest and least experienced practitioners do not have access to credentials and certifications. Our existing 10 Standards are scalable and provide a framework for introducing new certifications/credentials. Additionally, our revitalized accreditation programs require support.

ISPI is also cultivating the member experience. We know our members are the lifeblood of the Society. Who they are and what they do creates meaning and brings spirit to the Society. Most, if not all of us, joined the Society to learn, and we have stayed because of the people. If Being Better Matters, then people matter. We have two strategic projects to enhance the member experience.

  1. Deliver a fall innovation symposium. Being held at Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Virginia on October 6-8, 2017, the fall symposium bridges the span between our annual April conferences and affords performance improvement professionals to gather, share, learn, collaborate and grow. This first-of-its-kind event brings together a local ISPI Chapter (Hampton Roads), Advocate (U.S. Coast Guard) and University (ODU) to deliver a world-class learning and networking experience. This year’s Innovation Symposium theme is Transformation & Innovation by Design. Adopting practices and principles from emerging Design Thinking approaches, the symposium will integrate design thinking with performance improvement to help attendees think about and resolve real world performance issues. More to come soon!
  2. Expand the community service program to Chapters. With the help of Board of Director’s Rose Noxon and Potomac Chapter’s Bill Yeager (plus many, many more volunteers!), ISPI has an established and documented pro bono consulting community service program (CSP). Following successes with the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia and most recently the Kidney Foundation in Montreal, we are ready to roll out CSP to Chapters as an added engagement activity for giving back, being better, developing relationships and growing membership. The potential synergies with universities through the “academic guild” are exciting and game-changing for ISPI and Chapters.

We are moving in the right direction. I am proud to be a member of ISPI and proud to be the President of ISPI. Be well, and LEAP on!