From the HighEdWeb Board of Directors:
We’re planning for the future, and we need your help. The Higher Education Web Professionals Association’s Board of Directors, along with some peers and colleagues, have begun a dialogue regarding the Association, the strategic context within which it operates, and plans for the future. To date, the Association is most closely associated with our annual conference HighEdWeb, and that is certainly an event of which we are proud and that we hope to continue into the future. However, new initiatives are also emerging: HighEdWeb regional conferences, the LINK journal, and more. This discussion, then, is about how the Association can continue to evolve to support and best meet the needs of its members and its mission, and we want to give you a chance to share your thoughts.
We’re using a SWOT analysis to organize our discussions. We’d like your feedback on and contributions to our strategic planning.
As with any planning activity, it’s important to focus on our purpose. The Association’s mission, as conference attendees helped define it in 2005, is to advance Web professionals, technologies, and standards in higher education.
First, let’s discuss strengths. For this activity, strengths are defined as internal attributes of the Association that will be helpful in achieving our objectives. In our initial work on this project, we identified the following as our primary strengths:
- The engagement of the HighEdWeb community at conferences and online, its enthusiasm for our collective work, and the Association’s tradition of listening to feedback in making changes to our events.
- Our annual conference (hello Austin!), certainly our most visible activity to date, with its associated quality, reputation, growth, and momentum.
- The dedication of our volunteers to make HighEdWeb activities happen, and their connections to the Web profession in higher education.
- Credibility from our peers that comes from being an organization comprised of higher education Web professionals working for higher education Web professionals.
- The financial stability of a reserve fund, built up over past annual conferences, to ensure our continuation and to support new initiatives.
Next, let’s consider the Association’s weaknesses, specifically those factors which are internal to the organization. Stakeholders were asked to reflect: what current attributes of the HighEdWeb Association could be harmful or stand in the way of achieving objectives? Among those factors identified in initial discussions:
- Board/committee members are stretched thin or overcommitted; decisions take too long to make; need to delegate more; difficulty launching new initiatives.
- Composition & Structure: Board lacks geographic diversity; public perception is that there is an Association “network” that can only be broken into if you know someone – membership is “cliquey”; not enough opportunities for a more diverse group to participate; no term limits on Board positions.
- Change is very slow to non-existent; fear of change; too risk-averse; too conservative regarding growth of conference & other initiatives.
- Membership in the Association is not defined; Association has unclear role within the professional community – is the Association just about the conference, or is there more? What benefits does it provide?
Now, opportunities: what factors external to the Association will be helpful to achieving its objectives?
- Develop partnerships with organizations with compatible missions.
- Volunteer interest in starting regional conferences, chapters, other events.
- Web in higher ed is maturing to a strategic asset, improving opportunities for training, professional development and advancement of Web professionals and increasing their numbers; Association fills a niche.
- Availability of technology to support virtual attendance at the Annual Conference.
- Positive public perception/reputation of the association
- Higher ed culture supports collaboration.
- Existing business partnership that supports the operation of the Association.
Finally, threats: these are external factors will be harmful to or stand in the way of achieving the objectives of the organization.
- Surging interest in the Conference may make it difficult to maintain its strengths without introducing new problems.
- Conference venue limitations appear to require us to restrict the growth of the conference or increase the cost of attendance.
- Higher ed budgets and travel freezes may impact participation in the Association and its events.
- Higher ed and Web development getting “flattened”; Web personnel asked to do more with less while technologies advance, and we struggle to keep pace.
- Reduced ability time to participate in Association events.
- Some esteemed colleagues leaving higher ed; politics and higher salaries may be portents for a crisis for the profession.
What’s your view? Have we missed anything? Are there additional aspects that we left off? Please contribute to the discussion in the comments.