Executive Summary September 2010
AOTA Procedural & Organizational Change Ad Hoc Committee Members:
Shawn Phipps (Chair), Yvonne Randall, Ginny Stoffel, Jyothi Gupta, Barbara Hemphill, Barbara Schell, Janet Delany, Pamela Toto, Cynthia Bell, Carol Siebert, Ashley Dunn Thompson, Timothy Wolf, Penny Moyers Cleveland, Ada Boone Hoerl, & Kim Hartmann
Secretaries: Barbara Schell, Ada Boone Hoerl, Janet Delany, & Jyothi Gupta
The first meeting of the AOTA Procedural & Organizational Change Ad Hoc Committee was convened on September 21 and 22, 2010, at AOTA Headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland. Membership on the committee was in accordance with the following resolution passed by the AOTA Representative Assembly (RA) in April 2010: “The President and Speaker of the RA to jointly appoint an ad hoc committee to continue to explore opportunities for both procedural and organizational changes designed to respond to the concerns raised by the President in the recently defeated Participation Review motion.” The composition of the ad hoc committee originates from the RA charge to the President and the Speaker of the RA to jointly appoint an ad hoc committee composed of the following representatives: Commission Chairs (4), the SISC Chair, the RA Speaker, an RA member, a member from the Participation Ad Hoc committee, two members at large, a member of ASAP, an ASD Steering Committee member, an OTA member, an officer of the Association, and a Chairperson.
This committee was convened as a follow-up to the proposal brought to the RA in April 2010. This proposal was the outcome of the Participation Ad Hoc Committee that was appointed by the Board to explore ways to increase membership and improve participation in AOTA. Recommendations from this group were discussed by the RA and a revised proposal was developed and submitted to the RA as a substitute motion. That substitute motion was defeated but members of the RA recognized that there were significant issues that required a response. The RA subsequently recommended the formation of the current group to continue to explore concerns, build on past work, and submit a new plan to the RA. All of these historical documents are available for review at: www.aota.org/ProceduralAdHoc.
Goal of the Current Ad Hoc Committee
The primary goal of the AOTA Procedural & Organizational Change Ad Hoc Committee is to develop recommendations for an AOTA governance structure that optimizes member participation and expeditiously propels the occupational therapy profession towards the Centennial Vision.
Summary of Meeting Deliberations
Discussions throughout the meeting demonstrated that members held diverse perspectives in the work that has been completed to date, although many members generally supported the overall intent and direction of the original recommendations. From the current committee’s review of materials, along with updated feedback from both volunteer leaders and Association staff, there are several major trends of concern which require an effective response. These are summarized below, along with examples of data relevant to those concerns:
- Membership Levels: AOTA membership numbers vs. the number of OT practitioners
- OT membership steadily declined from the mid 1990s until last year when it grew just over 1% to 23,100, or about 23% of all occupational therapists in the workforce.
- There are about 34,000 OTAs in the workforce and we have 3,450 as members.
- We have just over 16,000 student members currently.
- Improving retention rates is critical for long term membership growth. There is a major challenge in retaining members, particularly newer practitioners entering the profession. Only 1 in 15 students renew membership after graduation. In FY 2009, 25% of members overall did not renew, while we recruited 11,277 new members, for a 4.7% net growth in membership.
- The Association’s national office operations and staff have been reconfigured in recent years to reflect changing Association needs, member preferences, technology developments, and the demands of the Centennial Vision priorities. However, many of AOTA’s volunteer structures and processes remain significantly unchanged since their creation. The current national office staff size is 50% of what it was in 1996, but continues to support essentially the same governance structure.
- Decreased participation: Evidence from elections, member motions to the RA, and ethics complaints suggest that members are not routinely using current systems to influence the organization and the profession.
External reports from Tecker Consultants researched trends across professional organizations and research conducted by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), as well as research from AOTA members suggesting that members expect involvement in professional issues that matter to them and which permit short term commitment to projects and issues facing the occupational therapy profession. This data is available on the AOTA Web site at www.aota.org/ProceduralAdHoc. Fundamentally, member participation in associations is vital for future success and creates greater members satisfaction and retention.
# General Election Voters
|# SIS Election Voters (range)
||# Member generated motions to RA
||# Member generated ethics complaints
- Structural Concerns Affecting the Board, Strategic Planning, and Operational Groups: Comments from AOTA Board members, leaders of other bodies in the Association, and the general membership suggest that current structures are not working optimally for timely and efficient response to the Association’s strategic initiatives. Charges to implement these must go through the RA to bodies such as the Commissions and the Special Interest Sections. Further, current groups are tasked to complete routine duties (e.g., generate and review documents, generate newsletters, etc. that are bound by standard operating procedures) and may not have the time or resources in their current structure to respond to emerging and priority professional issues. Additionally, current standard operating procedures inhibit the spontaneous development of groups.
Design Specifications for Desired Outcomes
The ad hoc committee agreed unanimously that a change in governance structure and/or function was critical to ensure optimal membership participation and achievement of the Centennial Vision. The first major step in beginning the consensus building process for an effective response was to determine draft design specifications on which future discussions and decisions would be based. These serve to guide decision making and keep the group focused. A draft of these design specifications was developed as follows:
- Aligns volunteers with the Association’s strategic priorities and the Centennial Vision
- Members value participation, feel connected to the profession, and receive personal and professional development
- Increases leadership, participation, and advocacy in the Association and across practice
- Structures and processes are dynamic, responsive, flexible, and accountable
- Parameters are clearly defined to ensure success and implementation
- Supports the best use of Association resources for greater focus and impact
- Encourages the use of technology and face-to-face interaction
- Structures and processes are continuously evaluated
- Creates a transparent, inclusive, and open process
- Creates more opportunities for member participation and members understand all opportunities for participation
- Provides a greater pool of members available to participate in activities of the organization and the profession
- It is easier for members to participate and become involved due to increased flexibility in the requisite time commitments
Analysis of Previous Work
All members of the committee shared their current thoughts regarding the recommendations originally presented to the RA as a starting point to their discussion on moving forward. Some key issues that surfaced included:
- Geographical Representation vs. Knowledge Based Structure with Direct Participation: Concerns presented as to whether a geographic representation model of governance remains effective, particularly as many geographical issues are being handled at the state level and there are good working relationships between state associations and AOTA. In addition, many associations are now moving from a geographic representation model to a knowledge based model. Discussion of a knowledge based model was also predicated on the idea that members could directly express opinions without a representative intermediary. It was recognized that the RA has also served as a communication and educational function to the members, but that the current geographical model has not been sufficient for driving timely decision making around critical issues facing the occupational therapy profession.
- Ad Hoc Committees: Ad hoc committees are recognized as an effective means of involving a diverse group of members with short-term, task-focused, and meaningful work using an efficient and nimble structure to address emerging issues, concerns, and opportunities for growth in the occupational therapy profession, but do require support and guidance for productive outcomes.
- Importance of Affinity Groups: Importance of members connecting to areas which support their professional development and relate to their particular practice or professional focus. The group explored the idea of Academies as a possible approach to expanding affinity groups.
- Support of Leadership Development at all Levels: Committee members support the idea of Coordinated Online Opportunities for Leadership (COOL), which will be activated on September 27th. There is also support for the idea of the proposed Volunteer Leadership Development Committee, although work on the structure is still needed.
After agreement regarding the design specifications, the following actions occurred
- The ad hoc committee broke up into small groups and worked to develop refinements or alternative responses to meet the organizational change needs. These ideas were initially generated within small groups and then discussed by the full ad hoc committee. They will serve as the basis for continued committee discussion by conference call (October & November) and at the next face-to-face meeting from November 16 –17, 2010
- The ad hoc committee will share the progress of the committee widely for member review and input:
- Design Specifications will be shared with all leadership groups and the general membership with electronic survey feedback to the committe
- Meeting summaries to be widely share with leadership and available to members for ongoing communication