Running Commentary

When I became CEO in 2003, I outlined a set of goals that would in part guide some of the activities in APA's Central Office. These goals, which I called my Points of Emphasis, have been discussed in detail with the APA Board of Directors and presented to the APA Council of Representatives.

After my first year as CEO, the Board of Directors posed three questions to me concerning these Points of Emphasis: (1) What is your updated vision (i.e., Points of Emphasis) for APA; (2) what particular steps do you plan for achieving them; and (3) how do you plan on involving a wider range of governance members in the formulation and implementation of these goals?

The purpose of this column is to share with you my answers to these questions.

The updated Points of Emphasis

Below is a listing of my updated Points of Emphasis (see my February Monitor column for elaboration). There were initially four Points of Emphasis, but after talking to members across the country I added a fifth (see number 4 below):

  1. Increasing non-dues revenue to allow APA to continue to advance the field of psychology without increasing member dues.

  2. Increasing the influence of psychology in the world, so that the field has an even greater presence in areas such as health care, education, science, safety, the workplace, and public policy, law, national security, and media programming, to name a few. We must market psychology as problem-solving profession--both in practice and in science.

  3. Working to ensure that APA and psychology can meet the science and practice needs of a multicultural nation and world, so that the field continues to make relevant contributions given the changing demographics of America and greater global interconnectedness.

  4. Helping psychology expand its role and capitalize on new opportunities, which will involve, among other things, helping psychologists identify and be prepared to pursue new avenues for contributing to society and for career advancement.

  5. Making APA an even better place to work for our approximately 500 employees who provide us with the capacity to do all that we do at APA.

The plan for achieving them

The Board of Directors also asked that I bring the Points of Emphasis to life by making them key components of the association. To accomplish this, I decided to create a strategic plan for the Points of Emphasis that would focus on APA Central Office activities.

The strategic plan will outline a set of actions that can be taken over time that would significantly move us forward on each of the Points of Emphasis. Activities in the plan will be implemented as part of the ongoing activities of APA's Central Office units (e.g., directorates) under the aegis of the various executive directors, who together comprise the Executive Management Group (EMG) for APA. They will be responsible for ensuring the annual prioritization and implementation of suggested actions in the strategic plan.

Finally, the APA Board also asked me to involve a wider range of governance members in the formulation and implementation of these points of emphasis. To meet this objective, I asked members of the EMG to work with their various governance boards and committees to develop the specific actions that would form the basis of the strategic plan. That is, the various governance groups, including the Council of Representatives, will determine the activities that will be performed under each Point of Emphasis. Thus, action items in the plan will come from governance members.

This approach has several advantages. One, it recognizes and accesses talent within our governance groups. Two, it generalizes the Points of Emphasis across the association so that many governance units are generating ideas about a common set of goals. Third, it localizes ideas so that suggestions are specific to the expertise of a particular board or committee. And finally, it specifies APA executive directors as the responsible agents of implementation and accountability.

At this spring's Consolidated Board and Committee meetings, where all boards and committees of APA convene simultaneously in the same location, I met with each group to discuss the idea of the strategic plan and to solicit input. Each group was asked to address the following question concerning each of the Points of Emphasis, but especially points 2 through 4 above (since staff committees are working on points 1 and 5): Within your domain of interest, what are the top two or three activities the association may undertake to achieve this goal?

Their answers to these questions, and those of Council, will form the basis of the strategic plan. It is hoped that the strategic plan will be a "living" document, that can be updated as new opportunities are identified by governance members or staff, and as previously suggested items have been completed or become obsolete.