IEEE in 2030: Modernizing the Governance Structure for a Fast-Paced Future

IEEE Board of Directors votes the ad hoc committee’s work should move forward

3 August 2016

Speed and agility—the best-designed race cars always have both. But how would the best race car of the early 1960s fare against the competition of 2016…or 2030?

IEEE’s governance structure has served the organization well for more than four decades. It was responsible for the organization’s growth into the world’s leading association dedicated to the advancement of technology. But the landscape on which we operate today is vastly different than it was more than 40 years ago. Then television was black and white, commercial airplanes had propellers, telephones had rotary dials, and neither the personal computer nor Internet yet existed.

As the pace of technological and social change continues to quicken, flexibility and agility are increasingly the hallmarks of sustainably successful and relevant institutions. The optimal governance structures of today’s and tomorrow’s organizations have a built-in capacity for quickly and correctly adapting to changing conditions and requirements.

In January 2015, the Board of Directors came up with four areas to focus on in order to position IEEE for success in the year 2030. The highest priority area was “Create a Nimble, Flexible, Forward-looking Organization.” To streamline and calibrate IEEE’s governance structure to the evolving requirements of the coming years and decades, the Board formed the IEEEin2030 Ad Hoc Committee in 2015.

Chaired in 2015 by IEEE President-Elect Barry Shoop and in 2016 by President-Elect Karen Bartleson, the committee has taken a discerning look at IEEE’s current structure. They have studied and considered future requirements and opportunities. With the input of members from around the world, they are proposing a new, optimized, modern governance structure upon which the Board will vote.

The proposal calls for a three-body structure, assigning very specific spheres of responsibility to each governing body. The Board of Directors would be streamlined to 14 voting members (today it is 31), each of whom would be elected by the full IEEE membership. The streamlined Board would serve the critical strategic needs of IEEE. It would be better positioned to render decisions on key issues and the direction of IEEE, free of the distraction and protracted deliberation associated with a larger board that has dual operations and strategic focus.

The proposal would also form a 10-voting-member Enterprise Board, with representatives from each major organizational unit, that has responsibility for issues related to enterprise-wide operations. The IEEE Assembly, which is composed of the three IEEE presidents, the 10 region delegates, and the 10 division delegates, would continue as currently structured, but it would have new responsibilities to address the ideas, concerns, and needs of the IEEE constituency while simultaneously providing checks and balances to the Board of Directors.


The IEEEin2030 proposal brings greater focus, accountability, and responsiveness to the IEEE governance structure. It will result in a more diverse Board that better represents the makeup of IEEE members worldwide. It will also allow the Board members to be the big-picture, visionary leaders they were elected to be, allowing IEEE to derive maximum benefit from their talents and expertise.

The leading association dedicated to the advancement of technology must itself evolve and advance to sustain that distinction. A leaner, faster, and more agile structure will ensure that IEEE continues to set the standard and remain relevant and influential for years and decades to come.


During the June meeting series, the Board of Directors was tasked with determining whether the work the IEEEin2030 Ad Hoc Committee had done toward an optimized Board structure was on the right track, and whether it should continue to refine the plan.

The Board voted that the committee’s work should continue, and provided valuable feedback as to areas for further development. As a result of this vote, the IEEEin2030 Ad Hoc Committee will present a proposal of its final recommendations at the November Board of Directors meeting.

Readers are encouraged to explore the proposal in greater detail on the IEEEin2030 initiative’s website or provide feedback.

Bartleson is IEEE President-Elect, Michel is 2015 IEEE President, and Shoop is 2016 IEEE President.

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