The Fork in the Road

In the May-June issue, I talked about branding and how every little thing matters. What I didn’t talk about specifically was IAEI’s brand: Who we are.

Our mission statement states that we promote electrical safety throughout the industry by:

  • Providing premier education
  • Certifying inspectors
  • Advocacy
  • Partnerships
  • Expert leadership in electrical codes and standards development

Historically, we know what IAEI was intended to be and the seven objectives we were expected to fulfill. We know also who we have become and the stories of triumph and trouble, fulfillment and failure, success and stagnation, autonomy and arrogance. We’ve seen it all because we’ve been around a long time — 85 years. However, the dream and the commission remain: to participate in making, promoting and enforcing standards for the safe use of electricity, both nationally and internationally.

But we have reached a fork in the road. This is a deciding moment in IAEI’s history when a major choice of options is required. We must decide two things: Who are we now? and Where do we want to go from here?

Sometimes we assume we know the answers to what appears to be an easy question. However, what the IAEI Board of Directors perceive and what I perceive the answers to be can differ from the perceptions of our members and from the electrical industry. So the fact is, it doesn’t matter how the Board or I perceive IAEI, what really counts are how our members, the public, and the electrical industry view us.

I could go out on a limb and give you my opinion, but I’ve been around enough not to assume I have all the answers. Yes, there are indicators which prove that we have character, credibility and reputation that extends back to the beginning of our organization. These indicators include positive comments from members, support from our industry partners who understand the importance and vital role that IAEI plays towards electrical safety, and requests we receive from reputable organizations that want to partner with us.

In order for IAEI to serve the current and future generations of the electrical industry, it is important that we step back to see the big picture and make sure we are working to improve and change with the wants and needs of the industry to benefit our brand, and to change our brand to benefit the industry itself. However, it’s not enough to be great at something or to be an expert in your field. The electrical industry is buying our bigger mission of promoting electrical safety, in many cases, first. This has to pervade and drive a brand’s messaging and actions no matter what the outlet we use— such as, meetings, seminars, media.

The strength of our association lies in our constancy to our mission and to our guiding objectives. Our success derives from us remaining relevant, credible and trustworthy. Our character rises from our avoiding the search for power that undermines and choosing instead the reputation of disseminating life-saving information.

So we start with who we are now, what the target mindset is and what the shared values are between them. We study, learn, and build how the IAEI’s brand (member community) and the nonmembers’ user journey collide in fortuitous ways to create action, conversation and conversion that cements them to the brand.

To take our quest to the next level, we asked our members and our industry partners, by survey, what was their perception of IAEI. Were we being true to our mission statement? Why did they want to be part of IAEI? How could we serve the electrical industry better? As soon as the results are available, we will share them with you.

By the way, Yogi Berra, catcher for the New York Yankees, said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Follow Dave on Twitter @DavidEClements


David Clements
David Clements is CEO/Executive Director of IAEI. He has been an active IAEI member at the local, section and national levels for more than twenty-five years. He served as international board member from 1995 until 2007 when he served as our 2007 international president. In 2010, he retired after twenty-nine years with Nova Scotia Power, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, as their chief electrical inspector. During his tenure as chief electrical inspector, he was a voting member on the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Technical Committee on the Canadian Electrical Code, Part I, a member of the Regulatory Authority Committee and member of the Canadian Advisory Committee on Electrical Safety. He has served on NFPA Smart Grid Steering Committee, Electrical Infrastructure Training Program and is presently a member of the UL Electrical Council.