Questions to ponder in mapping a vision for the future

Published : 09/16/11
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Over the last three years the American Numismatic Association has accomplished a lot, and it was nearly all by plan, even if not written out in advance. I’m not big on strategic plans, since they tend to become a “crutch” that management relaxes on, but I do believe in having a long-term vision and a good road map.

A long-term vision should define intermediate term goals, and from those goals come the operating plans for how to accomplish each step. In my opinion the keys to a good working plan are:

1. Know where you want to go.

2. Figure out the best way to get there. Along the way, it is important to be adaptable and opportunistic.

3. The most important factor of all is: implementation, i.e., don’t just say it, do it!

A good plan has to be simple to understand and appreciate for the people who are responsible for implementation. It must be easy to communicate to constituents (members, press, public, etc.) and easy for them to understand as well.

We have now finished, for the most part, Phase One of our reconstructive efforts, although we have initiated some forward looking, opportunistic ventures along the way. Phase Two should be more opportunistic and involves a longer term perspective than we’ve had the luxury to pursue, while we’ve been focused on fixing the immediate.

As we approach Phase Two of our planning process, preparing for the next 10 to 15 years, I need your help. Attached is a questionnaire that I would like for each one of you to complete. It should be given a lot of thought, not just knee jerk responses.

1. In your opinion, what is the primary mission of the ANA at this time?

2. Do you foresee the need for this mission to change or evolve over the next 10 years?

3. What are the three most important functions the ANA currently performs?

4. What should be our three most important measures of success?

5. What are the three greatest threats to the ANA’s future?

6. If we could accomplish only one thing over the next three to five years what would you want it to be?

7. If a large donor gave the ANA $10 million, unrestricted, how would you suggest we use the money? What if the gift was $25 million?

8. What are the top three things you think we could or should do to improve the value of ANA membership to our members?

9. Virtually all collector organizations are experiencing declining membership numbers. Online resources make it less important to be a member of an organization in many people’s mind. How can we stem this tide? Reverse it? Or should we not try, and refocus elsewhere?

10. The ANA’s mission is education and promotion of the hobby. Membership was an avenue of accomplishing that in past decades. The hard question we must ask ourselves is this: Is it still necessary to have members to accomplish those goals? If the trend is away from membership, what is the bond that replaces it? If success is not based on membership totals how would/should we measure success?

11. What do you feel are the greatest risks the ANA faces over the next 10 years? What can we do to alleviate each of the risks you have listed?

12. If we had a goal of accomplishing or innovating something unique, or ground breaking; something seminal, that would alter the way we interact with members, or that would change the hobby for the better, and we wanted to do it within the next five years (the creation of ANACS was one such event from the ANA’s past), do you have any ideas to put forth?

13. Should the ANA take a more pro-active leadership role in activities like: (Answer yes or no.)

___ Consumer protection guidelines

––– Hobby regulation (self)

––– Hobby regulation (government)

––– Warnings or alerts

––– Codes of ethics

––– Stands on controversial issues, like coin doctoring

Larry Shepherd is executive director of the 30,000-member American Numismatic Association.

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