Beyond the Boardroom: AIA Repositioning/Grassroots

"Beyond the Boardroom" is a new blog column by Texas Society of Architects EVP James T. Perry. 

As a relative newcomer (2+ years) to the Texas Society of Architects and AIA, last week I attended Grassroots for the third time, participating with great interest and learning a good deal more about the Institute’s processes, staff and board. The AIA “repositioning” effort seems to me to be a very good development for all.

As someone who has regularly witnessed the wry expression on members’ faces when AIA is discussed, I’m glad to know the need for change is recognized. Through member surveys and other methods of gathering information, ten elements have been identified as needing attention:

  • Leadership tenure – one year terms lead to a lack of continuity
  • Component autonomy vs. lack of unity leads to inconsistency
  • Lack of tier organization – many members remain unclear about the function of each tier (national, state and local)
  • Board size and composition – the board is too large and lacks diversity in age and demographics
  • Component structure is challenging and unwieldy
  • Passive reactiveness – the organization is slow to take a stand
  • Resource allocation – there is an inequity of resources and benefits throughout the tiers of the organization

Of the ten items, the attendees at Grassroots identified these three related issues as the most pressing concerns:

  • Engaging emerging professionals – many newly licensed architects, or intern architects, are not assigning value to AIA membership
  • Prioritization – it was expressed that no initiative is ever rejected (or concluded for that matter…)
  • Inefficacy of communications – members tune out AIA items

I hope that AIA members will be pleased that national leaders are ready to address many of the “disconnect” issues that have been identified through this year-long process. 

As part of the Repositioning presentation, AIA released "The AIA Manifesto," an excellent video about what is means to be an architect (available in our gallery above). You can also visit the Repositioning the AIA page to view additional items and learn more about what is being said. 

So, AIA leaders are hearing the message that the organization needs to become more effective, more connected to its members, and more representative of its concerns. It was a message delivered many times – and it has, I feel, been clearly acknowledged. 

The Texas Society of Architects leadership is recognized as proactive (sometimes more so than some might like), and our members are represented well in these conversations by Texas AIA Regional Board Members Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA, John Nyfeler, FAIA, and James Nader, FAIA, as well as by Texas Architects President Larry Speck, FAIA.

I’m encouraged, and I hope that you will be, too, after you’ve had a chance to look at some of the materials available.  Let us know what you think….Your comments are welcome!