Growth and Change: Leading the Way to ITE’s Future

By Mr. Michael Sanderson P.E., PTOE, LEED AP posted 10-01-2018 08:49 PM

At the recent Joint ITE International and Midwestern/Great Lakes Districts Annual Meeting and Exhibit in Minneapolis, MN, USA, I had the opportunity to address attendees as ITE International President to discuss recent progress and the future of our organization during the opening plenary. Understanding that not everyone can travel to an annual meeting, I want to share those thoughts with the entire membership here.

As we look to position ITE and our profession for the future, we must first understand that maintaining the status quo is always the easy path. Whether changing the way transportation systems are planned and designed to accommodate a new world of mobility choices and technologies, or changing our organizations to remain relevant to a modern workforce and a 21st century economy, change is hard. It can be disruptive, and it requires a lot of hard work to push through the inertia of legacy organizational structure and systems and entrenched ways of thinking. But, ultimately change is the only path to transformation and growth.

To achieve the change demanded of us as a profession, it will take people of uncommon commitment—people with a keen vision for the future and the ability and the courage to lead—to step up, initiate change, and put in the hard work needed to push past the inertia of the status quo. Indeed, these committed people are at the heart of all progress ever achieved by humanity. Our profession and our organization, ITE, are no different.

You should be proud to know that we have a group of such leaders on the International Board, which it has been my privilege to serve alongside. Leaders you elected who are committed to making positive change—they see the vision, have embraced the hard work, and have pushed through the resistance of “that’s the way it’s always been done” to create a momentum that, I think, has not been seen in our organization in decades. They are supported by ITE staff that also embraces the vision. This is a winning combination.
I hope you can feel the positive energy as we are beginning to see the positive results. We see it in membership growth, growing attendance at our annual meeting and exhibit, improving financial performance, and a regained relevance and standing in the profession.

This transformation began with several new technical initiatives launched over the last few years— Vision Zero, Connected & Autonomous Vehicles, Smart Communities, and Transportation and Health. At the same time, we have undergone a thorough reorganization and retooling of our operations`at ITE headquarters. And now, we have begun to look at other aspects of institutional health and sustainability with two new initiatives, one on Diversity and Inclusion and the other called ONE ITE, the most comprehensive organizational evaluation and improvement effort undertaken in decades, if ever. These initiatives represent big change for ITE. But, with the changes occurring in the world, in
our industry, and in our profession and workforce, no organization can stay the same and expect to  stay competitive and relevant. These changes are more than due.

The biggest threat to ITE is not erosion of membership by competitors from the outside. The biggest threat is and will be our own resistance to change, an unwillingness to try new things, and the fear of taking a risk on innovation. The future will belong to those who are occasionally willing to disrupt their own status quo so that they might innovate and invent a better future for themselves and their organizations. I believe that ITE is now on that path to innovation, invention, and a sustainable future. Thank you to the ITE International Board and headquarters staff, to our leaders at every level, and our members for embracing the ONE ITE vision and helping us “Lead the Way” to a bright future for our Institute and our profession.

This blog is from the President's Message in the October 2018 issue of ITE Journal.