Strategic Planning at NACE International: Second in the Series

As described in last month’s introduction to strategic planning, one of the first steps in establishing a well-defined picture of any organization’s Present State involves exploration of its core ideology. 

Core Ideology

“Ideology” has been described as a systematic body of concepts, characteristic of an individual, group, or culture. Others describe ideology as a body of beliefs that guide individuals or large groups.

One really can’t engage in strategic thinking, and exploring a vision or goals for the future, without having a deep appreciation for the beliefs that guide an organization.  The NACE International Board of Directors recognized that our ideology must answer three questions:

  • Why do we exist in the marketplace? That is, what is our noble cause; our Core Purpose?
  • How are we supposed to behave with one another? That is, what are our Cultural Beliefs and Core Values?
  • What is it that we do? That is, what is our Mission?

We started our journey by dividing the Board into four teams, each with representation from an activities committee, two areas, an executive officer, and an incoming officer or representative from the NACE International Institute or the NACE Foundation. Each team was asked to answer the question, “Why do we exist in the marketplace?” The board debated each team’s answer. Common elements and central themes were captured. In subsequent board meetings, a straw man version of our Core Purpose was created, debated, and revised. In the end, the board adopted the following:

Our Core Purpose

“NACE is the preeminent community for disseminating knowledge, enhancing skills, and expanding the professional networks of corrosion control and asset protection professionals, worldwide.”

Words should be selected and used carefully. This is exactly what our board did in developing this statement.  Let’s start by examining a single word: Preeminent.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines preeminent as “having paramount rank, dignity, or importance.” states it is “eminent above or before others, superior, surpassing.” And Google defines it as “towering above, excelling, outstanding, distinguished, renowned, celebrated, supreme.” Preeminent is exactly what we want to be—towering above all others, superior, distinguished, excelling in all we do.

The board also recognized that we exist to create a worldwide “community for disseminating knowledge, enhancing skills, and expanding professional networks." There is no mention of conferences, publications, standards, education, or certification. These activities are simply the tools for achieving the greater purpose. The tools may change over time; our reason for existing won’t. 

And our purpose has expanded to include not just corrosion control, but also asset protection. The role our members play within their companies is changing. Our members are increasingly being asked to take on broader responsibility for protecting their company's assets, from threats other than corrosion. Our Core Purpose provides a gateway to allow us to be more responsive to member and stakeholder needs. This is why we exist; our noble cause; our Core Purpose. We hope you can embrace it. 

Core Purpose is the first element of our Core Ideology. We’ll address “How we expect to behave with one another” next month. This article is also maintained as part of an ongoing series of posts on the NACE web site

By NACE President Samir Degan and Past President Sandy Williamson