Continuous Learning

Robert Voltmann
President & CEO
Transportation Intermediaries Association

Recently, TIA Chairman Brian Evans, CTB, of L&L Freight Services and I attended a symposium for the chief elected officer and the chief executive officer of associations. The symposium was put on by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). Yes, there is an association for associations!

Much like TIA seeks to help you improve your business, ASAE helps TIA refocus and improve the operations of the association. I spent an amazing two days with the Chairman talking about how we work together, what TIA is doing, and where we can improve.

Communication, governance, process, and improvement – sound like topics for a TIA Conference. These are the areas we all struggle with when running a business. We walked through our perceptions of each other’s roles. We talked about our current image of the association and where we would like it to be.

We discussed “mega trends” that are affecting or could affect your industry and your association. These trends were added to a strength-weakness-opportunity-threat (SWOT) analysis conducted by the TIA Board in April. The additions will be further debated by the TIA Board, and helping members work through these “mega trends” will be the focus of the next TIA Strategic Plan. Every TIA member company could benefit from this type of exercise.

We talked about current processes and structure for identifying strengths and weaknesses and adapting. We worked through governance issues. There is more work to be done by the Board in the mapping process, but that is part of the continuous learning that we go through as an association.

The seminar addressed the legal responsibilities shared by all governing boards, whether non-profit or for-profit. Every board has three fiduciary responsibilities: duty of care, duty of obedience, and duty of loyalty. The TIA Board is well versed in these responsibilities and addresses them regularly.

We talked about decision making and how, in an association, the process is more important than the actual decision. The process must be open and input solicited from all affected parties. The majority must recognize, understand, and appreciate the concerns and objectives of the minority and then mitigate these concerns and objectives. Joint objectives must then be strategically budgeted for, and budgets must be subject to rigorous regular oversight.

We focused on the need for continuous review of both the CEO and the Board. The TIA Board reviews each of its meetings focused on the following questions: Was time spent on the right strategic issues? Was the right amount of time spent on those issues? Did we treat each other and staff appropriately, and is there anything that we should change? I am reviewed throughout the year via monthly calls with the officers.

The point of attending the seminar and other ASAE events is to continuously learn from other associations how they do things, to learn the best practices, to interact with our peers, and to identify mega trends. They are the same reasons you come to TIA. We are working hard to ensure our skills meet your expectations.