President’s Update #4: August 23, 2021

GBA’s 2021 Summer Board Meeting in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho

By: Tom Blackburn, P.E, G.E, F. ASCE, F. ACEC (Blackburn Consulting)

GBA’s 2021 Strategic Plan Background
GBA’s last strategic plan spanned 2018-2020 and we were on track to create a new plan last summer (2020). However, because of Covid travel and in-person meeting restrictions, we chose to simply update the 2018-2020 plan virtually for one-year to address the uncertainties of 2021. That meant we were over-due for a new and extensive planning effort this year.

Pre-Meeting Data Gathering
GBA retained Leadership Outfitters, LLC to support and facilitate our strategic planning session during the 2021 Summer Board Meeting. Leadership Outfitters sent key stakeholders a survey in advance of the in-person meeting to gather input on what GBA does well, where we can improve, and identify emerging issues that should be considered as we look to the future.

Summary of Strategic Planning Session   
We held the in-person meeting in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho from August 12-14.  Due to nearby forest fires, the area was a little smoky, but it was so nice to get together and work with friends, colleagues, and spouses again. Our working group included President Tom Blackburn (Blackburn Consulting), President-Elect Leo Titus (ECS Ltd.), Secretary/Treasurer Matt Moler (S&ME) Director Guy Marcozzi (Duffield Associates) Director Steve Wendland (GeoEngineers, Inc.), Director Teresa Peterson (Gannett Fleming, Inc), Director Brad Melocik (DOWL), Immediate Past-President Ken Johnston (GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.), Terra Insurance’s Liaison Mark Kramer (SME) and Executive Director Joel Carson (GBA).

On Day 1 we worked hard to document important elements to be considered in the new strategic plan including:

  • Identified “train whistles” or emerging issues and trends in the areas of culture, economy, technology, and regulation.
  •  Captured our strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results.
  •  Future goals for our Association and strategies to achieve them.

On Day 2 we challenged each other on a deep level as we revisited GBA’s identity and value proposition. This effort took many twists and turns as we discussed different member service lines and the transformation of geoprofessional businesses. This effort essentially consumed the day which required assigned homework to working groups and a commitment to continued collaborating after the meeting concluded.

Lest you think it was all work and no play – au contraire! We had a blast as we let out some pent-up energy! We hiked and biked the local trails. We swam and boated in Coeur d’ Alene Lake. We explored the restaurants and nightlife where we toasted and roasted Ken, our past president and got rowdy and loud at the pizza place. We even got Leo to share his deepest bourbon secrets and yours truly danced (with Grace), to the local live entertainment. In the end, everyone agreed that it was another wildly successful GBA event.

Next Steps to Complete 2024 Strategic Plan
As I mentioned above, we are finishing up our identity and value proposition right now. In the coming weeks, we will finalize the objectives, strategies, and action items for GBA’s 2024 Strategic Plan. We plan to complete the plan by the end of November 2021 and share it with all members before the end of the calendar year.

Overall, I was pleased by the effort that has gone into our new plan and by the forward thinking of those gathered in August. I want to thank the GBA Board and others who have contributed to this effort. I am confident this group’s efforts will become a dynamic and impactful GBA “road map” as we continue to provide value long into the future.