Strategic planning is an essential part of keeping an organization healthy. It typically involves reviewing the organization’s mission; agreeing on a vision; identifying and coping with changing circumstances; providing a framework of deliberate priorities to guide day-to-day decision-making and allocation of human and financial resources; evaluating performance and organizational effectiveness; and making a sound case for philanthropic support.Early in 2013, the History of Science Society Executive Committee made a commitment to launch a structured strategic planning initiative to take on these tasks, in a manner that would include as many members of the HSS as possible. We knew we lacked the expertise to undertake this process on our own, so we sought out a consultant. After interviewing several candidates, the EC hired Andrew Searle to lead us in our planning.
The 2013 annual meeting in Boston, where we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Isis, marked the first formal meeting for strategic planning. Council members and attendees at our business meeting, along with various committee members, were invited to discuss our mission statement. The Strategic Planning Committee (SPC), comprising 14 members of the HSS, met for the first time as Mr. Searle outlined how the process would unfold. The HSS was most fortunate that HSS President, Lynn Nyhart, agreed to serve on the Leadership Team during the planning (although her term as president would conclude in a matter of weeks), along with incoming President, Angela Creager, and HSS Executive Director Jay Malone. Much behind-the-scenes activity led to a planning retreat in Chicago, where 40 members of the HSS, from around the world, gathered to debate and discuss whom the HSS serves and, essentially, our raison d’être. The retreat members identified 6 goals that they considered paramount (see below). The SPC then identified two “goal tenders” (goal leaders) for each goal and these goal tenders assembled their teams to help them establish the objectives, action steps, responsibility, and evaluative procedures for each goal. These goal teams met (virtually) over the next several months and each team created a draft that was then examined by the SPC.
The planning process helped HSS’s officers and volunteers to think deeply about whom we serve and what our priorities should be, leading us to identify the areas on which we should devote our efforts. Although HSS serves as the de facto US national society for history of science scholars, the Society is also an international organization and this international scope was confirmed during our planning. This dual nature is intrinsic to our activities overall; it explains why some Objectives in the serve mainly US interests and others serve international interests. Most serve both.
Respectfully submitted by the strategic planning Leadership Team: Angela Creager, Lynn Nyhart, Jay Malone
Click to view the HSS Strategic Plan 2014 as a pdf.