Practicing ArchitecturePracticing Architecture
Take Five: Advocacy, Leadership, Resources
By Robert Ivy, FAIA
For anyone who thought that the Repositioning the AIA initiative would result in a binder to take home from Grassroots, complete with guidelines from National on typography and a strict protocol with rules of the road—Surprise! Instead, repositioning consists of a lens through which to view the AIA, a new view toward a refreshed AIA for the 21st century. At its core lies a shift in perspective that returns the focus back to the member. And we, the members, have spoken.
At Grassroots, we’ve heard the results of a massive survey, including the members’ points of view (as well as colleagues and clients). Thirty-one thousand “touch-points,” an incredibly thorough research effort, inform us that architects and architecture, while well appreciated, are little understood. As a result, we have crafted a positioning statement that returns the AIA to its fundamental roots. This clear statement is worth repeating here:
The AIA is a visionary service organization providing advocacy, leadership, and resources for architects to design a better world.
I like it because it captures our shared aspirational qualities, our unique purpose, a commitment to service, and help for architects. To fulfill that future vision, we now have homework for the future—a list of issues worth improving.
A critical need will be better communications of what architects do and how the AIA helps us to fulfill our needs. Included with this issue of AIArchitect you will find a key ingredient in telling our story: an annual report. Check it out. We’ve been busy doing a great deal together in the past year, and this document will serve as a reminder of what we did. Look how much information it contains! This one resource can serve several purposes, from reminding fellow members of our programs, to acting as a marketing and information tool. Share it among your non-AIA friends who happen to be architects, as well as with professional colleagues and (most importantly) clients.
Clients would benefit from hearing what you’ve been up to—everything from saving the dome of the U.S. Capitol to working in storm-ravaged communities from Missouri to Haiti, advocating for legislation in state capitols, and volunteering in our own backyards. This annual report, in its various formats (PDF, print, and online) can help us tell our story.
The report serves as a single example from the Repositioning plan, demonstrating that the work of transformation is already underway. As we examine the fundamental structure of the AIA and the committed focus on members, we are benefiting from dedicated volunteers already looking into our resources and component structure. Furthermore, the Repositioning asks that we reprioritize our efforts. As the annual report demonstrates, we will benefit from a dialogue among ourselves at the local level, deciding what we care about (the environment? health and well-being? the emerging professional?), and where we choose to invest our time and talent.
As the crowd disperses from Grassroots 2013, member leaders will return to their home chapters, armed with information and ready to conduct an AIA-wide discussion. This priority-setting dialogue may be the most important outcome of Repositioning, and it illustrates how repositioning differs from every other strategic plan we’ve dreamed together in the past. This time, the member will set the agenda at home, and your ideas will flow up to your state, your region, and to Washington. That’s real repositioning.
And yes, we will see fresh graphic treatments for the AIA, perhaps as early as the AIA National Convention in June. But rather than focus on perceptions and outward imagery, we have chosen to focus on the structure initially, examining the fundamentals of who we are, what we do, and how we can enhance our opportunities for success in the future. By summer 2013, we’ll be ready for an enhanced graphic vision that matches our refreshed organization. For now, let’s adjust the lens and change our perspective, do the work, and welcome an exciting organization equal to the importance and vitality of what architects do—creating a better world for a new century.