September 2014

As chief elected officer of the Society, ASSE's president promotes the advancement of the Society and the safety profession, and represents ASSE before members, other relevant professional societies and various governmental agencies. Professional Safety shares his latest thoughts on the Society, the profession and its practice.

Read past messages in the President's Message Archive.

President's Message - January 2004

H&E professionals should give back the control to the those who should be the owners—the senior management team.

2003-2004 ASSE President James "Skipper" Kendrick, CSP

Thoughts on Knowledge

Meaningful information and knowledge are essential in today's dynamic world, particularly as we face ever-more complex issues. Competition for our time and attention continues to increase as well, thanks to the demands of family, job and myriad outside interests. As a result, we are less tolerant of mass dissemination of information.

Instead, we want customized information and insight. We want the ability to obtain information on demand so we can transform it into relevant knowledge-which, in turn, can be used to determine how to best allocate our finite resources to our many competing interests.

Knowledge-knowing something through experience or association-facilitates the ability to apply facts when turning ideas into action. It enables us-both individually and as an association of like-minded professionals-to make decisions based on "I know" rather than on "I think" or "I feel."

To build and sustain this knowledge foundation, ASSE leaders and staff need a deep understanding of industry/profession issues, as well as enhanced skills and tools to gather and manage the necessary data. Thus, the role of collecting, interpreting and sharing knowledge with members is increasingly important.

Of similar importance is the ability to clearly communicate knowledge between the Society's governing bodies and the membership. Members must understand critical issues and accept key decisions. This requires enhanced education which must be provided in a manner that is easily accessible and timely, and that uses both "push" and "pull" systems. How well the governance of the organization communicates and creates a transparent decision-making process will determine the degree of member buy-in.

This communication process must be a two-way street, however. Mechanisms for gathering input from members, past members, customers and stakeholders regarding their current and future needs and concerns, and their perceptions of future trends must be developed and constantly refined. ASSE leaders and staff must continually strive to seek input and blend this information into the decision-making process.

Being a knowledge-based organization will not only help us meet current needs, it will also help ASSE react both efficiently and effectively as those needs change and evolve. As Peter Drucker says, "The organization of the post-capitalist society of organizations is a destabilizer. Because its function is to put knowledge to work-on tools, processes and products; on work; on knowledge itself-it must be organized for constant change."

To govern well-that is, to effectively execute our oversight and management role-your ASSE leaders must have access to relevant knowledge. To guide the future development of this organization, we must also understand the implications of that information. Finally, we must have the will to use the knowledge and information in a responsible manner.

James "Skipper" Kendrick, CSP