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Staying Steady on Strategy

If your plan is aligned with your goals, you needn’t rush to revise

Every association leader faced a reckoning as COVID-19 took hold in early 2020, whether that meant helping members access government assistance or deciding what to do with the upcoming conference. Automotive Recyclers Association Executive Director Sandy Blalock was no different, but she also had another consideration: What to do with the strategic plan that ARA’s board had drafted in January, but which still hadn’t been formally approved?

The temptation to make big changes to an association’s guiding documents can be strong when it’s facing strong headwinds, as ARA has been. Though its industry was considered an essential business, Blalock said, “the impacts were still pretty huge for most of our members. … A lot of them had to lay off or furlough people and make changes to protect not only themselves and their employees, but their customers as well.”

Because ARA has a small staff—five full-time employees—it didn’t have the capacity to make strategic overhauls quickly, and Blalock wanted to take the time to see if it needed to. “In the middle of it, I reviewed it probably once a week to see if there was anything that I needed to bring to the board or bring to our executive committee that we might have to take a different look at,” she said.

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