As with many collegiate and professional organisations, the challenges and opportunities for ACS are shaped by the environment in which it exists.
Since its creation in 1975, the Tasmanian Branch although one of the smaller in numbers has been one of the most effective.
Over the years, many ACS members have participated on the local board (TAS-BEC) and on various national boards and committees.
ACS Tasmania’s role as an enabler of policies and strategies for the adoption of technology in the State has been recognised as a key element to economic growth and social inclusion.
In general terms, the challenges for ACS’ smaller divisions are no different than those with a larger member base but the opportunities are more easily identified and implemented, as the smaller divisions are naturally more agile.
Due to the increasing demands on technology professionals, as all sectors of the economy are experiencing a time of exponential growth, there can be issues attracting members to positions on the various boards and committees.
Also, at times the focus on operational, rather than strategic, issues can be an impediment to recruitment; this is due to a perceived lack of direction and purpose.
With the implementation of the ACS 2017-2022 Strategic Plan in July 2017, the TAS-BEC formulated a strategy directly emulating the three pillars – Capacity, Capability, Catalyst – on a local basis.
This included a focus on identifying new opportunities and methods in member growth and revenue streams (the reliance on subsidies has been an historical necessity but also an impediment to change).
With the appointment of a State Manager with the skill sets required to implement the Strategic Plan and with the support of ACS National Office, this strategy has been a great success.
New methods of revenue and member value have been identified and included in the annual business plan for the state.
On a local jurisdictional level, the principal of this strategy was for the BEC to focus on strategy and not operational matters, therefore the TAS-BEC was ahead of the proposal for the BECs to focus on “Access, Advocacy and Advice” as its primary role.
Over time, organisations can develop “cultural drift”.
Essentially this is complacency; a group of shared, taken-for-granted values, practices and priorities become restrictive and the set of processes and procedures for solving routine problems and addressing predicable challenges become outdated and ineffective.
Unless the group can identify its cultural drift and modify its values, practices and priorities, it will be unable to address complex, interdependent problems.
The proposed governance review for the TAS-BEC is a continuation of, and an opportunity to redesign local branch policies and strategies to meet the needs of members and to show leadership in an ever-evolving technological economy and society.
Maintaining an effective, dynamic jurisdictional presence (branch) has been crucial to the success of the ACS for over 50 years.
The inclusion of a re-evaluation of the role of the branches (Divisional Council Charter) in the Governance Review, focusing on Access, Advocacy and Advice is an opportunity to strengthen and renew local expertise.
The proposed Divisional Charter emulates other successful professional organisations and certainly gives clearer objectives for the Branches.
This will in turn encourage new membership, member participation and a revived engagement in the local boards (councils), committees, and forums.
The process of change and renewal for ACS has not been an easy thing to achieve.
The current governance model is overly complicated and, with its duplication and ambiguous decision-making structure, has been an inhibiter to change.
How can ACS be an advocate to enable technology to be acknowledged within our society without our own systems being agile, up-to-date and flexible to change?
As the demands on leaders to make informed decisions become more complex, it is crucial that expert, independent advice be available.
ACS must be an example to our leaders who are responsible for policies and strategies for the future for our economy and society.
Ray Leonard is the Chair of ACS Tasmania.