International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Strategic Planning Results in Goals Based on New Mission Statement

Posted 1 October 2001 in StressPoints by Bonnie Green and Stephen Ketchum

ISTSS adopted a new mission statement this past summer. Members approved an amendment to the bylaws that reads:

The ISTSS is an international, multidisciplinary, professional membership organization that promotes advancement and exchange of knowledge about severe stress and trauma. This knowledge includes understanding the scope and consequences of traumatic exposure, preventing traumatic events and ameliorating their consequences, and advocating for the field of traumatic stress.
This mission statement defines ISTSS fundamentals, establishes the scope for major society activities, and provides the framework that will allow ISTSS to achieve its goals and tasks.

For business to be carried out effectively, the society needs a solid financial structure and clearly defined operations. Without the necessary infrastructure, there is no organized way to move forward. The most important part of the infrastructure is the society's strategic plan. This three-to-five-year plan is based on the mission statement but needs to "translate" these general missions into more specific goals and plans. The plan grew out of a strategic planning meeting held in Washington, DC, and developed in the summer of 2000 when John Fairbank was ISTSS president.

The board, led by a facilitator, discussed the mission of ISTSS and the various areas where work was needed to assure its viability and relevance to members. Marti Buckely, ISTSS headquarters staff member, summarized tapes of these discussions and extracted goals for the society. President Bonnie Green, Past President John Fairbank and President-Elect John Briere ordered the goals and worked with Ketchum to refine objectives. The board of directors officially adopted the goals at the mid-year meeting in Edinburgh in May 2001.

ISTSS leaders view the plan as a dynamic and flexible document that changes to meet new challenges and circumstances. Although the order in which the goals are stated does not necessarily reflect the order in which the society places value, it does reflect the importance placed on tasks to be tackled. For example, while the main purpose of the society is to promote knowledge about traumatic stress, solid finances are necessary to accomplish this. Therefore, fiscal issues are a high priority. The board has selected five areas and eight goals.

Fiscal Resources

  • Goal 1: Establish the financial policies needed to create and maintain a healthy financial record for ISTSS.
  • Goal 2: Determine how fundraising relates to ISTSS priorities and programs.
  • Goal 3: Increase ISTSS membership.

Membership

  • Goal 4: Increase accessibility to membership and provide for greater member participation in ISTSS activities.
    Structure and Governance
  • Goal 5: Define the relationship of the board of directors to the affiliates, committees, task forces, special interest groups and liaisons, and detail the roles of each.

Programs, Products and Services

  • Goal 6: Increase programs and services to meet members' growing needs.

Advocating for Traumatic Stress Field

  • Goal 7: Increase collaborative efforts with other organizations in the domains of traumatic stress advocacy and in the provision of member services.
  • Goal 8: Improve existing tools and develop new ones to advocate for the field of traumatic stress with both the public and the policy makers at the national and international level.
To date, objectives have been developed for each goal, and many tasks have been specified. While some of these have been accomplished, others still need work. Development is ongoing. Plans need to be updated and course corrections implemented.Because routine monitoring is needed to verify that ISTSS resources are being used appropriately, a task force has been formed. Its members include Bonnie Green, John Briere, John Fairbank, Danny Kaloupek, Patti Resick and Merle Friedman. This task force will monitor implementation and propose modifications to the plan. We constantly need to be aware of where we want to be compared with where we are.