Structural organization changes at AIP

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28 September 2015

Every organization needs to adapt to the changing needs of customers and stakeholders, to market forces, and advances in technology. Change is a constant, but the ways by which organizations approach change are not . . . some change in bursts in response to short-term strategic plans, and others change slowly because of tradition or red tape, for example. It’s those organizations who build change into their modus operandi, however, that are most able to adjust as the need arises. This is what I want for AIP. If change becomes a natural part of an organization, it is not disruptive, but it does require a culture shift with a commitment to become ever attentive and mindful of matching offerings to stakeholder needs. 

With an eye on this (eventual) prize—because culture shifts take time—I will implement some adjustments to our organizational structure to better position AIP to focus on the two most visible change needs that have great potential influence on mission and reach. The changes that I will implement this fall put greater emphasis on digital technologies/communications and providing better service to our Member Societies (MS). For the first time, the Institute will have a team devoted to growing MS relationships and strengthening the federation. 

Structural change often signals an intention on behalf of the leadership to become more responsive to the external environment. This is my objective for AIP. The coming adjustments will also help streamline operations, reduce fragmentation, improve inter-team communications, create ownership of functions by identifiable staff, and test likely next-generation senior leaders, etc. 

The plan at this time is to move toward a full C-level (chief officer–level) business structure, whereby the CEO’s management team consists of the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Operating Officer, the Chief Member Society Officer, the Chief Digital Officer, the Chief Publishing Officer, and the head of Human Resources.

The officers will lead six divisions that are cross-connected, and they will serve on a newly constituted Management Committee to facilitate and improve cross-team communication and awareness. 

As an interim step toward this goal, I have created six divisions, some of which will have interim leadership. For example, the Member Society Division will be co-directed by Liz Dart Caron (responsible for existing Member Society operations, communications, and new value proposition engagement to strengthen our relations) and Bo Hammer (responsible for new MS attraction and business development, both within the US and internationally, and also virtually in this new electronic age).

Cathy O’Riordan becomes Chief Operating Officer, COO, with fewer direct reports but wider AIP responsibilities, and the opportunity for more in-depth management into the future. Physics Today will now report to the CEO and receive considerable attention regarding new business development activities. Our electronic platforms and services will now be aligned under the leadership of Jenny Krivanek. 

Other changes include the lead responsibilities assigned to Joe York (AIP’s Industrial Outreach program invigoration and expansion), Yolanda Matthews (GradSchoolShopper product developments), Mike Henry (FYI product developments), and Jason Bardi (expanded News and Media Services operation). This is just the start.

The changes described here will take effect on October 1, 2015. 

Reorganization is an opportunity to hire into positions that must be created or strengthened to create the platforms for future growth of the business. To this end we are planning to hire into 1) new electronic and software platform capabilities, 2) the rollout of many new value propositions for our improved Member Society operations, 3) extension of the business operations of Physics Today, and 4) expansion of the FYI product. 

Managing change is critically important. It is always difficult for some staff to accept and adjust to changes in the work environment. For this reason I am concentrating on communicating a clear vision, ensuring we have the right skills base across AIP, incentivizing through new opportunities, putting in place the best possible resourcing, and clarifying the details of the plan for change. Careful communication of all these matters to the AIP team should minimize the possibilities for confusion, anxiety, resistance, frustration, and false starts that could otherwise occur and create future problems. This is a time to err on the side of overcommunication, to ensure a relatively smooth path forward for the development of AIP, its future capabilities, and offerings. 

For this change to be successful, however, I ask the AIP staff for support, positivity, and flexibility. There are many areas that will need attention over the next few months to help our “work” for the community to continue. There are also many functions that we will need to consider carefully to see how we might adjust them to better work for our mission. We will affect this change together, and we will be stronger for it. 

Exciting times lie ahead of us.