I write, as I begin my term as President of DSI, for two reasons. One to encourage you to read the latest version of Decision Line, which highlights the progress that DSI has made under the Board leadership of my predecessor, Professor Jeet Gupta from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (click here to be taken to the PDF version). Two, to share the agenda for DSI in the upcoming year.
Penning this communique at the onset of a DSI President’s term is very much a tradition. I promise to write again in July 2018, October 2018, and January 2019 to update you on DSI’s implementation of a recently-adopted strategic plan (click here to learn more about the strategic plan), as well as emerging opportunities and challenges that DSI may be facing.
Who Are We as DSI?
But, before going further, it may be apropos for me to begin by answering an elusively-simple question: “Who are we as DSI?”
My answer is as follows: DSI came into existence almost half a century ago to be “a community of scholars, educators, and problem-solvers,” welcoming as members all who wish to discover and convey scientifically-constructed actionable knowledge to impact real-world organizational problems. The annual conferences of DSI and its regional meetings in the US and globally are where we – scholars, educators, problem-solvers – voluntarily congregate for friendship, intellectual debate, free exchange of ideas, and professional growth. Moving forward, the Board, the Home Office, and I will work to foster and strengthen this appreciation and brand of DSI.
Where Is DSI Now?
DSI is one year shy from the half-century mark. Since its establishment, DSI has witnessed the emergence of new discipline-oriented, competitive professional societies and the budgetary constraints that force us to make difficult choices. The fact that DSI is a mature society operating under 1970s policies and procedures made DSI less nimble and, quite often, hampered its ability to serve members.
The good news is that the Board of DSI, as far as I can remember from being on the Board since 2006, has been working and will continue to address these challenges. Many of these that have plagued DSI during the last decade are now being resolved or finding pathways to resolution. For this progress, I generously thank the previous Boards and leadership for all that has been accomplished. Today, DSI is stronger but, to be honest, not strongest yet.
- Membership today stands at approximately 1600, with a healthy portion being doctoral students and early-career professionals. DSI will need to further invest in this member sector by providing them valued professional opportunities at the annual conference and regional meetings.
- The Home Office has stabilized under the capable leadership of Vivian Landrum. Please remember, however, that the Home Office is still very lean, with only two full-time employees (Vivian Landrum and Yolanda Matthews) catering to many demanding stakeholders. As DSI continues its journey, wise investments will have to be made to increase Home Office capabilities and resources.
- Accounting processes for DSI and between DSI and regions are finally becoming more seamless and transparent. For those who do not know, this effort began earnestly three years ago. The Home Office is now able to efficiently handle financial transactions on behalf of regions and provide up-to-date registration revenue and expense information for regional meetings. Some regions are already utilizing the conference management and registration systems via DSI’s new contracts and saving money as a result.
- Attendance at the annual conferences is steadying at around 1200, with improvements to programming, social events, and other services. On programming, DSI will continue to elevate the rigor of presentations at the annual conference, control for no-shows, ensure that feedback during sessions are developmental, and expand activities and sessions aimed at professional growth as scholars, educators, and problem-solvers. With respect to social events, DSI has worked consciously to provide better evening receptions, meals, and morning breakfast breaks. Having said that please understand that there will inevitably be variability year-to-year in terms of the quality of such offerings as some locations and venues are simply more expensive than others.
- Relationships with regions are improving as DSI leaders listened more intensely to one another, engaged in intellectual as opposed to territorial debates, and wore “the other person’s shoes” to seek compromises. DSI has been and remains committed to strengthening these relationships under three guiding principles:
- Principle 1: Whatever activities DSI and regions decide to engage in, these should be mutually-beneficial not only to both DSI and regions but also across regions.
- Principle 2: As DSI and regions work to provide value to members, substantive and meaningful presence, for both parties, should be fostered and supported for mutual understanding.
- Principle 3: Before finalizing any decision for any activity, there should be genuine efforts to enhance coordination between DSI and regions and among regions to avoid territorial and programmatic conflicts.
- Finally, DSI has been caught in the conundrum of having to abide by 1970s Constitution and Bylaws, as well as an unwieldy dissertation-like Policies and Procedures manual. Genuine efforts to revise the Constitution to allow for greater flexibility, to work more efficiently and effectively with regions, and to expect organic growth and technological advances began several Boards ago and are now coming to a conclusion. The Constitution and Bylaws revisions are being vetted by a lawyer in Georgia, where DSI is incorporated. In the near future, DSI will be reaching out more formally to ask for your ratification. Similarly, DSI began this past January to revise and modernize its policies and procedures for greater efficiency and effectiveness. This task is in progress and will continue to be a focus of the Board this year.
What Is My Agenda?
As President of DSI, I work with the Executive Committee to nominate members who volunteer for committees and, more importantly, to provide charges for committees and other individuals to accomplish. For the upcoming year, not only will DSI continue ongoing work from the previous administration, but DSI committees and individuals will also be asked to implement suggested activities culled from previously-commissioned reports, particularly those that align well with the three “thrust areas” in the strategic plan:
- With respect to strengthening structural, organizational, and programmatic ties with regions, DSI committees will be asked to:
- Create, support, and potentially launch in time for the 2018 Annual Conference of DSI, a “Regional Best Paper Presentations at the DSI Annual Conference” session.
- Seat the Finance and Investment Committee with duly-elected regional Treasurers so as to provide regions with direct review and visibility of DSI and regional financials and audits.
- Work with regions to establish policies and procedures to support regional leader(s) to attend the annual conferences of DSI. [As an aside, DSI will be affirming its financial allocation in the budget to enable an Executive Committee member to officially attend and represent DSI at regional meetings.]
- Examine how best to organize and manage the international regions to avoid confusion between a US-based region like MWDSI and one that consists of multiple countries like EDSI.
- With respect to membership recruiting and retention and annual conference programming, DSI committees will be asked to:
- Create, support, and announce one-two honorees for a new award that recognizes distinguished educators; this award ideally complements the current portfolio of DSI recognitions and honors.
- Provide draft content to support membership recruitment and retention activities. Such content can be hosted on DSI webpages, as well as printed on a one-page fact sheet or a high-gloss recruitment brochure.
- Restructure and provide mission-targeted programming for the New Member Welcome Reception held at the DSI annual conference.
- Transition the “Conference Buddy” initiative into a “Mentor-Mentee” program that is rewarding for both the mentor and his or her one mentee, taking advantage of the potential to set aside a designated “member lounge” area at the annual conference.
- With respect to the annual conference, DSI committees will be asked to:
- Evaluate, select and then implement a web-based conference schedule app.
- Formalize an annual conference structure that aligns with the Institute’s publication and membership profile.
- Identify and recommend new professional development tutorials, workshops, and sessions and intellectual leaders that help us become better scholars, educators, and problem-solvers. DSI annual conferences, regional meetings, and journals can then consider and commission these tutorials, workshops, and sessions.
- Implement a professional visit to one or more interesting sites as part of the DSI annual conferences.
The above listing highlights some of the initiatives on my agenda. Once the Board approves committees and charges in late April, this information will be made public. For those interested, please click this link, after May 15.
By the way, you may be curious as to why I am not highlighting charges related to elevating DSI journals, something that we have done year after year. To me, there is no need to charge DSI journal editors with this goal; they already embrace this goal wholeheartedly. Moreover, getting DSI journals on some listing or ranking does not happen in a year. It is a sustained effort of doing what journal editors are supposed to do – i.e., source good submissions; provide timely, constructive, and fair feedback; and develop risky submissions whose results and conclusions can potentially alter science and practice. What DSI can and must do is help journal editors with the sourcing and reviewing.
Time to Conclude?
I set out, with the best intentions, to write you a short letter. I realize it is not short at all but hope that the conversational style makes reading this more bearable. I had much to share and look forward to more progress updates in my future correspondences.
In the meantime, please mark your calendars to join me and other colleagues at the 2018 Annual Conference of DSI in Chicago, IL. Professor Subodha Kumar (Temple University) and his team are hard at work to make the conference another memorable one; Chicago is a great city (for more information, please see this link). Indeed, some of the initiatives above I am optimistic will be showcased at that time.
Equally important, mark your calendars for the 2019 Annual Conference of DSI in New Orleans, LA. Next year, DSI will celebrate 50 years and the past three DSI Boards have been setting aside funds to make next year a celebration to remember. Professor Kevin Linderman (University of Minnesota) has agreed to serve as the 2019 program chair and is already assembling his team. For those of you who wish to become involved, please email Kevin to volunteer your service; Google can easily find Kevin’s email for you. If you are shy about cold-emailing Kevin, then please email me (see below) and I will be happy to recommend you to Kevin. Of course, if you are really shy, then drop the Home Office an email, I know that both Yolanda and Vivian would love to hear from you.
2018-2019 DSI President