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December 4, 2000 8:14 AM CST

Thinking Strategically

Shaping the future of the masonry industry


At a Long-Range Strategic Planning retreat, MCAA Executive Committee members met for two days to map out the future of the association and the role it will play in shaping construction.

"After spending two days talking about the future of construction and masonry, I am extremely excited about the future and MCAA's role in shaping it," said David Hill, Education Chairman.

For decades, association boards governed their organizations through a review and ratify process. Boards oversaw committee functions and approved what was already achieved, spending very little time on the future and planning for that future. Today, more and more boards are turning toward a forward-thinking system of strategic governance to guide their associations. Many associations now spend the majority of their time strategically thinking about the future and the impact their association should have in shaping that future. Boards today are looking well into the future, looking at the total realm of possible variables that could exist and then charting an aggressive path for the organization to follow. To be influential in their industry, boards must create a set of informed assumptions about what the future will hold. With these educated guesses about the future in place, the board then begins to move the organization in the direction that will best serve the long term interests of the organization and its members. Participants make decisions knowing full well that their intended goal may be affected by the unknown variables, and may require adjustments in their actions. While working under this process, the board understands that as more clear information is presented to effect the assumptions made, the direction may need to shift.

The Mason Contractors Association of America, the only association to serve the interests of all the industry contractors, is moving towards strategic governance. On July 24 and 25, Executive Committee members met to begin thinking strategically about the future of the masonry industry, where the industry will be in thirty years and how the association will play a vital role in advancing the interests of its members.

Several questions were debated during the two-day strategy session which will dramatically affect mason contractors well into the future. Questions like: What will the construction market be like thirty years from now?; Who will our industry's competitors be?; Will masonry be a vital part of construction?; Will new construction methods make masonry obsolete?; If masonry is to thrive in the future, how can we train enough workers to make us viable as contractors?

The twenty-four members and association staff debated, at length, over what the future will bring and how members will be forced to contend with that future. They also brainstormed as to how the MCAA should position itself to best serve the membership to achieve success in that future.

While most members worry about the present climate and getting through the next year, those MCAA members that helped to develop the new association strategic plan focused on the future profitability of the entire membership. Will members be able to compete against other systems? How will customers view masonry? Will government regulations and laws put masonry at a disadvantage? More importantly, the MCAA Long Range Strategic Planning group debated over who would emerge as the recognized leader for masonry and who is best positioned to fight for masonry interests.

During the two-day strategy session in July and the subsequent board meeting in September, the MCAA board developed the association's long range strategic plan. The plan includes four horizons: (1) crafting a comprehensive strategic direction based on the balance between our core purpose and values as an association; (2) the envisioned future; (3) strategic planning; and, (4) what it will take to achieve the association's envisioned future.

Planning session participants debated thirty-nine key assumptions about future competition and narrowed the key variables to: * Global business climate; * Political changes affecting future government regulations; * Social and demographic uncertainties.

Based on those assumptions, participants outlined five outcome-oriented goals that will guide the MCAA in implementing its long range plan.
The goals are:

  1. MCAA will have the ability to influence codes and standards in the best interests of its members.

  2. MCAA will maintain, develop and expand our market share.

  3. MCAA will supply knowledge and direction in the development of policies impacting the masonry industry.

  4. The masonry industry and its stakeholders will benefit from education and training programs that provide knowledge and understanding.

  5. The MCAA will increase the workforce through educating students, parents and the general public on the benefits of a career in masonry.
All of these goals will ultimately position the MCAA to become the recognized global leader with the knowledge and resources to lead the masonry and construction industries.

Undoubtedly, the development of the association's long range strategic plan and the board's new focus on strategic governance will aid the association's responsiveness to industry and member needs. More importantly, this new governance and focus will assist in delivering increased value to the membership of the MCAA.

About the Author

Michael Adelizzi was the Executive Director of the Mason Contractors Association of America.


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