CEO's Report July 2019

For those of our members running a business – whether it’s your own or someone else’s – congratulations on surviving the end of financial year!

It’s a challenging time. Closing off end-of-year accounts, getting invoices finalised, putting together your projected budget for the coming year, then dealing with the Tax Office red tape…

It is the same here at SSSI. We are a member institute, first and foremost, and then a
not-for-profit organisation. But these must be underpinned by a successful and efficient business, because without that we have little hope of delivering what our members need of us.

So we’ve been doing all the end-of-financial-year things, while also starting the membership renewal process to ensure that our recent membership growth continues. We have more to tell you about this, and I’ll return to these topics in future editions of GeoMessage.

The end of 2018–19 also signifies the end of the first year of delivery of our Strategic Roadmap 2018–2021. It has been a tough year with some very significant changes, and again I look forward to telling you more about the year’s achievements in a future GeoMessage.

It has not been perfect, and we have learned some lessons along the way. All in all though there has been much more positive than negative, and most of our three-year goals are closer than they were a year ago. To paraphrase Churchill: it’s not the end, it’s not even the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning.

That said, we are about to start the second year of delivering our three-year Roadmap and it is the year which will deliver some of our greatest results and challenge us with many of our hardest choices.

Each of these steps – every decision – is about choice and change.

I will again come back to these choices and changes in a future column here; for now, I’d like to give you some of my thoughts about change, and why it is both important and inevitable for SSSI.

In truth, change is easy because it will happen anyway, whether you drive it or not. The change you really need is hard because it involves judgements about priorities, and resources, and timings, and a hundred other variables.

Consider your own business or organisation. Is it completely static – the same internally and externally as 10, 5 or 2 years ago? Of course, the answer is no. This is the single most important thing I have learned in nearly 30 years of change management: every single organisation changes constantly. There is no such thing as a status quo. Nothing you want to change is from a standing start.

An organisation taking over the world is changing.

A business going broke is changing.

A corner shop, in the same place with the same owner doing the same things for 50 years is changing, because its supply chain and its market is changing.

And a professional institute, doing the same things for 10 years is changing, because its members and its clients and its supporters and its operating environment are changing.

Whether change is planned or unplanned, focused or scattergun, strategic or short term, useful or self-destructive, it is real and always present. This is important because we want to focus change, so that it is planned and strategic and useful.

We often hear about how member organisations have inertia, but I believe that this is wrong. If organisations are always moving, always changing, then what they possess is not inertia – it is momentum.

A Formula 1 car about to win the Australian Grand Prix has momentum. So does the drunk driver’s car about to hit a tree. And so does the car that has taken a wrong turn, and needs just a slight nudge on the steering wheel to get back on course.

I have been behind the steering wheel of each of these cars in my career and, I am guessing, so have many of you. And being honest, I have been behind the wheel in the car about to hit the tree more often than I’ve won the Grand Prix.

And yet, more than 20 years on, I am still managing change. Why would anyone trust me with the keys?

Because it’s not about the Grand Prix or the tree, but about recognising and knowing when to apply that slight nudge on the steering wheel. It’s about using the momentum that is already there to get on track.

And that is what makes it hard.

It’s hard because it’s about timing, and decisions about resourcing, and what to do and what not to do, and decisions about what to say no to.

And it’s about doing the right thing, for the right reasons, every time. Which is why SSSI exists, and why we are all part of it.

I look forward to discussing the next stage of SSSI’s journey of change with you in more detail. Watch this space!


Peter Olah
Chief Executive Officer
Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI)

Telephone:  +61 7 3367 0262
 Address:  3/18 Kilroe St, Milton QLD 4064  |