Meaningful change in CSI starts at the top! It’s time to grow up!

Complicated, outdated, and conflicting policies have been hampering CSI’s potential success.  These policies are contributing to losses in membership, leadership, and services.  We can’t let that happen anymore.  We need strong and strategic representation of the membership’s interest and we need it now.

I just read every single document related to the upcoming bylaw amendments in CSI.  Yes, I am still awake (barely).  Typically, bylaw amendments are a whole lot of updating and housekeeping.  Most are not too concerned about them nor do they pay much attention.  Many do not vote when the time comes.

This time is different.  This time you must make your voice heard.

While there is a large chunk of (much needed) housekeeping items, there are also some critical changes that will help change the direction of our organization.

This change is absolutely vital and necessary to the relevance and growth of CSI.

I am approaching my 5 year anniversary in CSI.  I realize that I am a relative newbie in this organization and that some may question my opinions due to that short tenure.  That said, I am “neck deep” involved in CSI at many levels and have put quite a bit of rubber to the road in these last 5 years.  Sometimes, fresh eyes that have taken the time to be truly involved are a good thing.

First, let me say that I have the utmost respect for the work that has been done in the past by all the amazing people in CSI.  I am in no way faulting past decisions but the fact is that our industry is drastically changing and we have to change with it.  What worked before DOES NOT work anymore.

CSI, hands down, is the leading technical resource in the built environment.  I am passionate about this and I believe in it.  That said, we have fallen behind.  We are out of date.  The good ole’ boy network that was standard in days of old no longer works.  CSI services are in need of update, repair, improvement and efficiencies.

Many will say that our steady membership decline is due to the recession and baby boomers retiring.  Not so.  Our membership has been declining for 15 years.  How is it that we can be the best resource out there for project delivery education (that you can’t get anywhere else) and have a declining membership?  It is because we are not staying relevant.  We are doing things like “we have always done them”.  How I hate those words.

Change starts at the top!

CSI has struggled the last couple years with the database meltdown, loss of staff and the process of finding a new CEO.  We have moved through these struggles and good things, things most of us do not see, are happening every day to move back toward the organization we once were.  The truth of the matter is that we can’t make CSI great again until we move our organizational structure into this century.  The old model no longer works.  We need an operational structure that assures success so we can get into the weeds and really make all of our education, programs and events vibrant again.

We need to get back to a place where our members and the value we provide to them is the first priority.

This is the first huge step in that direction and we need to collectively get behind it, vote for it and support it. Just look at the Ends the Board put into place. It places members first.  We need to be the change.

There are many clean up items in the bylaw amendments.  There are three in particular that will likely cause the most discussion and are, in my opinion, the most important.

  1. Changes in Board vs. CEO roles, duties and accountability

This. Is. Huge!  I am not going into technical details of all this (You can read all about it here:

It is time to modernize CSI. It is time to get in line with current business models, trends and member demographics.  It is time that membership value is the first priority for our Board.  It is time to eliminate personal agendas.  It is time for a clear, streamlined approach to delegation and accountability. It is time to let our CEO do his job without Board micromanagement. It is time for accountability and stated roles and responsibilities for our Board and CEO.

The proposed revisions to our bylaws will do exactly that.  Our CEO is a trained and certified association management professional.  Our Board is volunteers who understand our industry.  We need to have clear guidelines so that each of them can do the best job possible.  Our CSI staff needs a clear leader (the Board) with whom they can work and not be put in difficult positions because they receive conflicting instructions.

The amendment and the related policies draw very clear lines and has a heavy dose of accountability for all.  It is an up to date business model that we should have adopted a long time ago.  This model will put our membership needs at the forefront.  This model has been unanimously agreed upon by our current Board which, by the way, is almost unheard of.  It is smart and it will work.

  1. Changes in Board Positions

Again, we need to move out of the dark ages.  These amendments will change the former President, President-Elect, Vice Presidents model to a structure of Chair, Vice Chair, Officers and Directors.  I will be honest, when I joined CSI, I thought the President ran the whole show and the CEO was just an employee with no real power to do anything.

We need to move to a true Board of Directors model like any corporation.  A model with a clear succession plan and clear roles.  I never did understand why we had two Vice-Presidents who never moved up to President.  I also didn’t realize that some of our Board positions did not have any real job description.  It is time to clean this up and structure these positions to fit with the new organizational structure.  This one is just common sense.


  1. Changes in Terms of Office

Proposed changes to Terms of Office are Chair, Chair-Elect and Officers change from a one year term to two year terms.  Directors change from two year terms to three year terms.  These changes will have a roll-out plan that will eventually result in no more than 1/3 of the Board turning over in any given year.

For me personally, this one is a no-brainer.  In order to create great initiatives and implement them, you need consistency.  You need those people to be able to work it from beginning to end.

I was President-Elect in Portland CSI for one year.  I am just now about to wrap up my 2nd Term as President.  I will be immediate Past President for two more years.  This tenure has given me the opportunity to work with my Board on new and innovative programs and see them through to a solid and sustainable future.  Portland CSI is vibrant and getting better every day due to this consistency.  One year is not enough to do anything but get started.  We need this commitment and opportunity for our top leaders to finish what they start.

CSI, it is time to evolve and grow.  It is time to give our leaders the structure, clarity and accountability they need to do the work that they do best so our membership can benefit.  It is absolutely time to STOP saying “we have always done it that way” and step out of the box. Traditions are a good thing, but too much focus on tradition keeps us looking in the rearview mirror.

With what CSI has to offer, we should easily be at the forefront in everything that we do in the built environment.   How about we come together and make that happen again.  How about we grow up?

Please take the time and make the effort to vote on the upcoming bylaws referendum.



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