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Planning for the ARRL's Second Century


Strategic planning is an imperfect but necessary art. It involves:

  • assessing the present and future environment;
  • setting long-range goals that will lead to fulfillment of the mission;
  • considering and selecting among alternative means of achieving these goals;
  • setting priorities; and
  • establishing milestones so that progress can be measured.

In July 2006 the Board devoted the second day of its meeting to a revision of the League's Strategic Plan. The document was refined by the Executive Committee in October 2006 and adopted by mail vote of the Board later that month. The Plan begins with a list of ten-year assumptions and key external trends that may represent future opportunities or threats. Space precludes listing them all, but here are some examples:

  • growing competition from other means of communication;
  • continued growth of non-licensed transmitters;
  • increasing land use regulations that restrict or prevent amateur operation;
  • growing complexity of government relationships; and
  • changes in publishing technology.

Next the Plan lists the key questions -- the "mega issues" -- that we must try to answer as we confront these opportunities and challenges, for example:

  • How can ARRL increase Amateur Radio's overall image and relevance with the public?
  • What is unique, different or interesting about Amateur Radio that will keep the interest of current amateurs and attract new ones?
  • How can ARRL make the needed cultural, organizational and financial changes to sustain future success?

There are other aspects to the Plan, but the Board's vision is best summarized in the following five long-range goals for 2014, the League's Centennial Year:

  • ARRL will be Amateur Radio's proactive advocate and representative voice in achieving key regulatory and legislative goals.
  • ARRL will be the primary source of high quality Amateur Radio educational information and resources.
  • ARRL will be the recognized and respected leader in Amateur Radio public service and emergency communications.
  • ARRL shall attain the financial security to advance and advocate Amateur Radio.
  • ARRL will have a well-trained, team based, member-responsive environment to advance its membership base.

The Board intends to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the Strategic Plan at its July 2009 meeting. As a part of the process leading up to that review, the Board would like to hear from you. You are invited to share your thoughts on the future direction and priorities of your national association.

The current ARRL Strategic Plan, down to the level of the long-range goals listed above, is posted at (To view the Plan you will have to be logged into the Web site as an ARRL member.) Please look it over with the following questions in mind:

  • Assumptions and Key External Trends: What items should be added? Modified? Deleted?
  • Mega Issues: Again, what should be added, modified or deleted? Also, what are your thoughts about how to answer these key questions?
  • Value: Do you agree with the statements of what the ARRL must offer, and must do, to enhance its value to Amateur Radio?
  • Long-Range Goals: Do the five long-range goals capture your vision of how the ARRL should be positioned for its Second Century? If not, how could they be strengthened or improved?
  • Strategies: What should the ARRL do over the next several years to pursue its long-range goals?

The Board wants to tap the wealth of experience, in virtually every field imaginable, that exists within the ARRL membership. Your job and your other activities and interests outside of Amateur Radio may give you a unique insight that will contribute to the success of our planning endeavor. Your detailed knowledge of some aspect of Amateur Radio could illuminate an opportunity that the Board itself might overlook.

In particular, we need the perspective of newer members and amateur licensees. Those of us who have enjoyed decades of involvement in Amateur Radio know that what attracted us is quite different from what attracted you. We know that our needs as ARRL members are likely to be different from yours. But -- as hard as we may try -- we cannot put ourselves in your shoes. To do a better job of serving today's and tomorrow's radio amateurs, we need to hear from you.

The Web site will explain how to share your input with the Board and with your fellow members. If you would like to participate but do not have Web access, drop me a note (the address is on page 14).

With your help, the next revision of the ARRL's Strategic Plan will set the stage for a successful Second Century for our national association -- and for Amateur Radio itself.

David Sumner, K1ZZ
ARRL Chief Executive Officer



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