About The AIARepositioning the AIA
Transparency, clarity, ownership, and consistency have emerged as universal themes among the dozens of AIA Components and AIA Chapters that held Community Conversations during the second quarter of 2013—all of which center on the manner of communication among all levels of the AIA as well as the purpose of that communication as it relates to the member.
by Tina Litteral, Hon. AIA, CAE, Executive Director of AIA Arizona and the 2013-2014 CACE President
Reviewing the feedback from more than 30 component reports, there is general consistency on priorities. But, members are all over the map on how they see the problem or the solution. While nearly every group reported resource allocation, prioritization of initiatives, engaging emerging professionals or passive reactiveness, what each of those themes means to them is vastly different.
Ownership emerged as a dominant theme. Several chapters voiced their strong concern that the Institute does not have the same impact on architecture as the American Bar Association or the American Medical Association has on law or medicine. The AIA's lack of "muscle" in the realms of policy, public perception, and publishing is troubling and any discussion of reorienting its priorities should center on those weaknesses.
Other chapters pointed to the need for more transparency throughout the organization, particularly as it relates to resource allocation. If we are to reposition the Institute, they argued, we must all be able to responsibly set goals in light of available means.
Still, others pointed to the need for a unified set of priorities that means the same thing at the national level as it does at the local level. Consistency, in other words, keeps everyone pointed in the same direction, whether it has to do with advocating on behalf of members or pursuing diversity initiatives.
Finally, the unifying thread between transparency and consistency, according to many of the participants in the conversations, is a lack of clarity. The Institute, in other words, cannot demonstrate accessible accounting or reliable actions, unless there is an obvious understanding of roles between national, state, and local chapters.
There are two camps, one who is already taking repositioning and applying it on the local level, and one waiting for a clear direction of next steps. However, it is consistent and clear across the two that members want to see big bold change on a few priorities, and often that they doubt the Institute’s ability to make this kind of a shift.
As representative leader of CACE, I applaud my colleagues who helped facilitate these important member conversations. But, I call on all component leaders to step up. This is not a time to take a “wait and see” attitude. The Institute—the profession—doesn’t have that luxury.
If you are waiting for AIA National to send you a toolkit, as some have expressed to me, it’s not going to happen. Repositioning is a shift in perspective, and we are the leaders who are going to help make repositioning real.