Chicago-based American Society of Dermatopathology (ASDP) wanted to elevate the impact of their specialty on improving the quality of lives for those with skin diseases. The board felt it would be important to take a step back and assess how the governance structure and processes of their specialty medical society might be augmented to prepare the association to build upon its prior success. Leah McCrackin, ASDP Executive Director, recognized structure should follow vision, and there was concern in conducting an assessment purely based upon ASDP’s current state. Leah contacted us to explain her challenge. Together, we designed a process that would surface actionable insights relative to strategic opportunities and governance effectiveness.

We began the engagement by conducting a number of interviews, reviewing a great deal of information to understand ASDP’s historical and current momentum, and then met with a volunteer task force to brainstorm potential strategic opportunities.  With this as a foundation, we then administered a board self-assessment instrument, and facilitated a full-day board meeting to process all the information and test their prior assumptions.

The result was the creation of a governance action plan to modify structure and process that was grounded in a general consensus about aspirations for the future.  This dialogue would prove critical as ASDP moved forward with strategic and business planning.

Once the execution of the governance action plan was well under way, we helped ASDP revisit some of the insights garnered during the initial engagement and (to leverage their internal resources) we provided guidance in how best to obtain additional environmental scan data that would be important to the development of a strategic plan.  This resulted in modifications to their member survey, outreach to their standing committees, and conducting their first competitive assessment.  We then helped them synthesize all the data and facilitated discussions with a volunteer task force to brainstorm how best to position ASDP for the future in terms of value premise, potential new offerings and the association’s business model.  We then conducted a 2 day strategic planning retreat with the ASDP board.

As a result, ASDP decided to make the leap from it historical platform of providing education for members (via events and its journal) to also being the integrator of member knowledge and the platform for the sharing of best practices.  Moving forward, this has far-reaching implications for ASDP members and the public.  Members will be engaged differently and thereby “experience” the association differently.  Their insights will be “pulled-in” for dialogue and sharing, versus primarily being on the receiving end of knowledge expert insights being “pushed out”.  The ASDP vision is that each member has a piece of the puzzle and ASDP’s role is to help them aggregate and share their collective knowledge. And, by expanding their constituencies and focusing more on “outcomes” than “outputs”, ASDP will have a greater impact upon dermatopathological diagnoses and patients will gain a far greater understanding of their disease.