by Eric Lanke
As our Chairman Jeff Stuart expressed earlier this year, NFPA and its Board of Directors are increasing their focus on a set of clear, high-level objectives—what we’re coming to refer to as “ends” statements—because they describe the major ends or outcomes we wish to achieve. Six ends statements have been defined, comprising the strategic vision of our association:
- NFPA provides an effective forum for fluid power suppliers, manufacturers and distributors to advance their collective interests.
- NFPA provides its members with timely and accurate industry statistics that support improved decision-making.
- NFPA fosters awareness and involvement of middle and high school students, helping them understand fluid power’s potential as a technology and choose fluid power as a career path.
- NFPA helps increase the number of technically trained people capable of integrating and applying fluid power, and connects them to careers in the fluid power industry.
- NFPA supports universities in the development of fundamental fluid power knowledge and connects our industry to an increasing number of scientific and engineering leaders in our field.
- NFPA helps machine and equipment builders understand innovative uses and unique strengths of fluid power and increase its use in their products.
At their most recent meeting in March 2016, the NFPA Board further deepened its focus in all six of these areas, seeking to create and advance successful long-range plans that will realize these outcomes. Here’s a quick recap of those discussions.
For “Effective Forum” and “Industry Statistics,” the Board recognized that the association has already achieved high levels of success. All of the metrics tracked in these areas—from the balanced growth of members across the supply chain, to their participation in membership and leadership activities, and from their attendance at our conferences to their use of and participation in our industry statistics programs—show robust growth and involvement. The Board discussed a set of performance benchmarks for each of these metrics, and asked staff to develop concrete plans to keep the association operating at these levels. Steady and on-going improvements to our networking forums and our portfolio of industry statistics programs will clearly be a result of these decisions.
For the three ends statements focused on the industry’s workforce challenge—“Middle and High School Students,” “Technically Trained People,” and “Universities”—the Board is working to best leverage the increasing financial commitments coming from donors to the NFPA Foundation. The underlying strategy of building more fluid power curriculum into middle and high schools, 2-year technical and community colleges, and 4-year universities is sound, especially when coupled with additional efforts to connect NFPA members to the students being impacted by that added curriculum. After several years of programmatic experimentation, the Board is now helping to select the programs with the most demonstrated impact, and will be allocating additional resources to their execution over the next several years. We highlighted some of these programs in a previous NFPA News post—including new fluid power “challenges” for high school and undergraduate students, and a new, nationwide network of fluid power technical education hubs at local community colleges.
In the area of “Increase Use,” the Board approved a major change in direction. Recognizing several on-the-ground challenges associated with NFPA conducting direct promotion of fluid power technology to OEMs and end-users, the Board asked the association to focus more of its attention on the development of platforms and the organization of venues where NFPA members can promote themselves and provide education of fluid power customers. The on-going success of our IFPE trade show was identified as a shining example of this kind of activity—a venue, organized by NFPA, where members can interact with new and existing customers. More emphasis on these kinds of activities will likely mean a change in the associated ends statement, as we work to more clearly define our expected outcomes.
As we have mentioned before, the support and engagement of NFPA members is critical to our success, whatever the area of focus. As such, your feedback on these decisions and the strategic direction being shaped by the Board is welcome. Please send your comments and questions to my attention at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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