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Priorities emerge from the 2012 IMBA Chapter Congress

IMBA Chapters have spoken and they know what they want to do in order to improve the chapter program. To be more precise, 32 of the current 102 chapters who had representatives in attendance at the IMBA World Summit in Santa Fe told IMBA’s board and staff what is important to them. They revealed their priority ideas and interests for how to continue to add value to the program at the 2012 IMBA Chapter Congress.

The group process for the 2012 Chapter Congress generated over 50 distinct ideas and interests. This list included ideas from the pre-congress online chapter survey. After the brainstorming portion of the congress, each chapter was given an opportunity to prioritize their ideas. They did so by voting one of three ways: 1) a "green" vote meant the idea or interest was a top priority, 2) a "yellow" vote was to proceed with caution or it was an idea that needed further consideration, and 3) a "red" vote meant the idea is not a priority.

Each chapter was given a sheet of self-adhesive colored dots — six for each of the three colors. The color dots/votes could be distributed in any way the chapter wished among the list of ideas, e.g. all six of a color on one idea or one color dot/vote spread over six different ideas.

Here's a link to the web page where you can view the full results by downloading a PDF file. The chart is sorted in descending order of priority.

Here are the top ten ideas/interests:

  • Continue to streamline CiviCRM
  • Scheduule visits with the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew
  • Add state-level staff and form smaller IMBA regions
  • Add regionally based trail staff
  • Improve the chapter handbook and best practices guidebook
  • Introduce chapter mentor program and enhance chapter networking
  • Improve regional summits
  • More emphasis on IMBA's Public Lands Initiative
  • Offer co-branded gear
  • Add a legal resources database

Allow me to make a few observations about the prioritized list of ideas and interests identified at the chapter congress.

  1. A few of the ideas and interests, while ranked as a high priority, also received large numbers of less enthusiastic "yellow" votes. Clearly, many chapters want more information about these ideas. Some of these are not new “to-be-developed” ideas but existing programs and services with low level of awareness by many chapters.
  2. In total, chapters at the congress voted over three times as often with green (196 total green votes) as they did with red votes (62 total red votes).  Most of the ideas and interests listed are of some level of priority.
  3. A few ideas received votes across the spectrum, in all three colors. These indicate a lack of consensus by chapters and for me would be ranked lower than the spreadsheet’s sorting function did.

What’s next?

  1. There are clear priorities that emerged from the Congress. As IMBA finalizes its operations and program plans and budget for the next two years (2013/14), this list of priority interests will be front and center in IMBA’s planning and resource allocation in order to accelerate their development.
  2. With so many chapter votes in the “yellow” category, we must improve communications between chapters and IMBA and between chapters. Regional summits can help address this issue.
  3. Given the reality of resource limitations, many good ideas and important areas for development will not be addressed in the coming years. Personally, I am not satisfied with that scenario. IMBA and its chapters must continue to explore and develop our joint capacity to add resources in order to accelerate other vitally important programs that help us achieve our mission.

I want to thank the 65 chapter volunteer leaders that took the time to attend the 2012 IMBA Chapter Congress. This is our mutual future for which we are planning so it makes sense that together we plan for how we achieve that future.

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