Written by Matt Eich
In early November the NAICC Executive Board met in Deadwood, SD for our annual fall board meeting. The fall board meeting is only one of three times in the year that the Board meets face to face. The other two in-person meetings are at the Annual Meeting and in Washington DC for the Spring Board meeting and Crawfish Boil on the Hill. The balance of our meetings are held by conference call, usually on a monthly basis or as is needed throughout the year. Meeting in person helps to create a bond within the Board and allows for excellent discussion and decision-making.
Earlier in the year it had been suggested that the Executive Board complete a SWOT assessment for NAICC and treat it like a “mini” strategic planning session. So, each member of the Board did a little homework ahead of the fall board meeting and completed a SWOT assessment. After the usual business of the meeting was completed, we launched into discussing SWOT. A SWOT assessment is taking the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats that a business, or in this case our organization are facing right now, and how do we face the realities of how agriculture, and our businesses are changing, and how do we want NAICC to be ready for the future and which direction should NAICC go?
The NAICC is a strong, cohesive, and well-represented organization. I’m positive most members within NAICC could quickly name many strengths they view our organization to have. The board was also quick to point out the strengths we feel the NAICC. The first and foremost strength is the annual meeting. The NAICC meets in January every year for nearly a week of strong educational sessions that are beneficial to all attendees and is likely the best meeting of its kind for consultants, researchers, and QA professionals to gather, share ideas, and network with our peers. It is also the place for researchers and QAs to receive the training they need for the coming season. Consultants use the opportunity to network with others from across the world to share ideas, and for the comradery that helps us get through the difficult times we all face. Another strength of the NAICC is the connections and continuous visits we have in Washington DC. Having the voice and connections in DC allows the NAICC to be in front of policy-makers, especially when crucial topics come up and a professional is needed to help shape policy and help avert certain death of products our customers need and use. A third strength of the NAICC is the strong ethics, knowledge and professionalism that each member upholds in their professional and personal lives. I feel our members are among the best in our business and the strength of the organization reflects that.
We all know that no matter how strong an organization is, there are weaknesses that must be identified, and with proper mitigation can be formally solved or reduced. It is important to identify weaknesses within a business or organization for progress and improvement to be made. During the second portion of the SWOT, the board identified several weaknesses that the NAICC has, and what needs to be addressed so that the organization could make improvements. One of the more heavily discussed weaknesses was the lack of a presence at universities, and the lack of communication with universities about what NAICC does and how we can work together. A second weakness the board identified was although we have a strong membership, we see a segment of members who come and go to the annual meetings yet remain uninvolved in the other areas of NAICC life. We also see a rotation of members every year and although we have a net-gain of membership, we feel we could be retaining more members.
The opportunities portion of the session was spirited and beneficial, and the board identified many action points for various committees to work on over the course of the next year. One large opportunity was taking our weakness of a lackluster relationship with universities and state associations and developing a plan of forging better relationships with both. Another opportunity is seeking out the Bio-stimulant sector that has quickly gained traction in production agriculture and have the potential to be supporters and sponsors of NAICC. The opportunity of creating a stronger social media presence that could strengthen our members and non-members knowledge of the goings-on of the NAICC was also discussed.
Every business or organization has daily threats that can create a loss of business or membership, and NAICC certainly is no different. The board identified many perceived threats to our organization, and a plan to meet them head-on to make improvements to the organization was developed. Most of the threats were minor compared to what other organizations face daily, however having a plan to deal with them will place NAICC in a better position to serve its members and be prepared for the future of agriculture.One of the bigger threats we view is the current down turn in the ag economy, and how that will affect membership in the future, along with the consistent mergers of our sponsors.
After going through the SWOT process, I feel NAICC is on the right track for what the future of our organization has in store. It was a positive experience, and this board and the future boards representing NAICC have a solid foundation from which to lead and serve its members. NAICC has many forward thinking and passionate members that will continue to build NAICC into an even stronger organization and a legacy that we all can be proud of.
Matt Eich is the current NAICC president and a consultant with Centrol Crop Consulting in Volga, S.D. For more, go to www.NAICC.org.