A well-functioning governance structure is a key component of driving successful outcomes for your organization. In 2020, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)—an organization that serves professionals in the field of business communication through innovative thinking, shared best practices, in-depth learning, and career guidance—noticed there were several operational inefficiencies at various levels of its organization. Through a partnership with Smithbucklin, it identified its governance structure was outmoded and no longer served the organization’s needs, which was a key reason behind suboptimal operations. This ultimately hampered IABC’s ability to work collaboratively across all levels of the organization and created conditions that made it challenging to achieve any strategic goals or enhance member value. This lack of alignment resulted in financial challenges for the association and made an urgent case for change.
To address these challenges, IABC leadership and Smithbucklin staff developed a five-year strategic plan: #StrongerTogether2025. The plan emphasized governance changes that would create alignment and efficiencies across all levels, increase member value, expand educational offerings that support career development, and improve data integrity. Smithbucklin served as a partner and offered input around best practices to help IABC identify areas that were benefiting the organization, as well as areas that were no longer serving it. Smithbucklin staff conducted a technology evaluation to ensure data integrity and the integration of technology solutions to meet the current needs of volunteers, leaders, and members. To dovetail these efforts, IABC volunteers formed a task force that worked closely with staff to analyze data, make recommendations to the board on governance changes, and look closely at the organization’s financials to create transparency and alignment between IABC International, regions, and chapters.
As a result of these initiatives, IABC presented bylaw changes to their membership that would align the organization with the strategic plan by greater representation from all key stakeholders and begin to operationalize strategic planning goals. By engaging in ways to streamline and operationalize changes, regions now contribute to the development of IABC’s annual budget. This financial transparency is restoring members’ trust and confidence in the association.
Your governance structure sets the tone for how the organization manages daily operations, approaches decisions, and embraces change for future growth. Take the time to ensure your board is in alignment to advance its mission.
Marlee Honcoop and Peter Finn are in Association Management at Smithbucklin.
Gina Brennan is in Corporate Marketing at Smithbucklin.