Making blanket statements is a dangerous thing. A case in point: There’s an old line that says it is the nature of every organization to outlive its purpose. If that were true, we all may as well pack it in because there is no future. What needs to be included in that statement is a single word: “original.”

The goal of an organization should be to outlive its original purpose. But in doing so, it should evolve and embrace a new purpose and redouble its efforts to outlive that purpose in turn. The key is in what you do once you have achieved the original goal.

In the first two months of 2018, we’re witnessing some realignment among professional associations serving surveyors and geospatial professionals. Perhaps the most dramatic is the change at MAPPS, which has decided to restructure to give its members more value. The role of the association has grown over its 35 years, and so have the needs of its members and the professions it serves.

One part of the re-formed MAPPS will be association management – events, education, and other member-related activities. Another will be the legislative efforts. The third, which the board will initially manage, is the legal and accounting area – the nuts and bolts of the business. At the risk of making it all sound too compartmentalized, from the outside, it looks like the legislative group won’t have to do double duty lobbying and planning semiannual conferences.

At its winter meeting in late January, the MAPPS board focused on fine tuning the organization’s strategy and developing its value proposition. If the new structure allows a more efficient application of resources to fulfilling its strategic goals, the value proposition should be apparent.

The second event of note was the co-location of ASPRS and ILMF. There are enough similarities and differences in the two events that the combination was attractive enough to draw 50 percent more attendees to the Denver venue. Organizers didn’t specify beyond saying the increase was across the joint sessions, but it was clear the single pass that allowed ASPRS attendees to sit in ILMF sessions and vice versa was proving beneficial. In the exhibit area, attendees clearly took advantage of the opportunity, and exhibitors seemed happy with the addition of more surveyors to the mix courtesy of the ASPRS affiliation.

One thing the ASPRS/ILMF events demonstrated was the importance technology plays in the everyday business of surveying.

We heard more talk about collaboration and integration at InterGeo in Berlin last September, and we’re seeing that evolving on many fronts. The focus is turning to solutions that best serve the geospatial market. For manufacturers and technology companies that may mean becoming a bit less proprietary. For the associations, it is recognizing how best to allocate resources to achieve individual goals with a collective benefit.

We can’t make any blanket statements, but if they take the lessons and collective knowledge gained in reaching this point and focus on new goals and objectives that help take surveying and geospatial professions into the future, they will remain relevant and not outlive their purpose.

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