Charting IEEE's Future: An Update on IEEE in 2030 Efforts

Much progress has been made

8 September 2015

The IEEE in 2030 Ad Hoc Committee, working on behalf of the IEEE Board of Directors, continues to make progress on the four strategic objectives that emerged from the Board’s January retreat: (1) Create a nimble, flexible, forward-looking organization; (2) Foster public imperatives; (3) Foster diverse technical communities with IEEE and industry, government, and academia, and; (4) Empower the discovery, development, and delivery of cutting-edge products and services.

The first objective has been a major focus throughout 2015. Regular, face-to-face meetings, punctuated by socialization with members of the Board as well as other volunteers and members, have resulted in substantial feedback. This feedback has continuously informed revisions of a potentially new governance structure for the IEEE. This effort was originally motivated by recognition from the IEEE Board of Directors at its January retreat that the current governing structure is not as effective or efficient as it could be and will work against the organization as it moves toward 2030.

As an example, the current Board of Directors makes financial decisions on matters ranging from US $5,000 to $500,000 that, at times, are not strategically oriented. While some decisions are strategic, the majority of the Board of Directors’ efforts focus on operational and tactical activities, which is both incredibly inefficient and consumes a tremendous amount of time.

Additionally, the current IEEE organizational structure is inextricably linked and does not allow either the structure of the organization or the Board to change independent of one another. This dramatically reduces its flexibility to respond to a changing and dynamic world. An example of this linkage is the current number of IEEE Member and Geographic Activities Regions and the number of Region Directors serving on the Board must be the same. Therefore, increasing the number of Regions would require a corresponding increase in the number of Region Directors on the Board.

In addressing this topic the committee has adopted several guiding principles, including improving the diversity of the Board and strengthening the voice of the member through both structure and the election of the members of the Board. At a macro level, the proposed governance construct provides for three governing bodies: a smaller Board of Directors focused on strategic issues, an Assembly with increased roles and responsibilities focused on IEEE’s constituency and ensuring the voice of the member is present within the senior governance of IEEE, and a new Enterprise Board focused on the business operations of the IEEE enterprise. Deliberative engagement mechanisms such as meetings, reports, and updates, and officers serving in overlapping capacities will ensure the three governing bodies communicate effectively.


Progress is also being made on the second strategic objective, that of fostering public imperatives, which are activities that primarily promote social good. The committee’s effort thus far has been to identify activities IEEE is already engaged in. IEEE’s wide range of humanitarian actions and technical public policy engagements fall into this category. Much is already being done by IEEE in these areas, but they are distributed across the institute and are often duplicated. Bringing together and focusing these efforts could result in even greater impact.


Efforts to foster diverse technical communities are also progressing. This effort is focused on identifying ways to facilitate, connect, and engage with our community of entrepreneurs and industry professionals. The emphasis of the work in this area is on gathering and sharing best practices from successful IEEE communities as well as non-IEEE communities, especially those focused on technical professionals. The committee has identified and reached out to various IEEE programs that are promoting these sorts of communities. This strategic objective seeks to create a greater sense of IEEE’s overall efforts and encourage joint activities to accomplish mutual objectives.


Finally, IEEE is not immune to issues affecting the global economy. Therefore, many IEEE Operating Units are working to develop new ways to serve their communities and accomplish their goals. The fourth strategic objective is to facilitate and encourage new product development by creating a formalized three-stage process (ideation, evaluation, and funding) that will gather ideas from across IEEE and develop them into new products. This effort also includes creating a centralized database that will allow a 360-degree view of the people, both members and others, who interact with IEEE.

Make no mistake, IEEE is an absolutely great technical professional organization. The IEEE in 2030 efforts are intended to position IEEE to maintain its prominence and influence through 2030 and beyond.

To view the materials mentioned in this article, visit the IEEE in 2030 Archive website.

Shoop is IEEE President-Elect. Coughlin, Land, Moses, and Yoffa are members of the IEEE Board of Directors. 

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