URISA - Urban and Regional Information Systems Association


URISA's leaders were emerging from a period of crisis management.  "We need to find a focus, a galvanizing vision."  The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association represents geographic information and IT professionals working in state and local governments.  How could they make URISA the one association their public sector audience joins and becomes active in, with their tight budgets and volunteered time?  URISA's leaders built on previous member input and invited their Board into a conversation about what really matters to them.


URISA's Board members reached consensus on two strategic initiatives to guide their next phase of growth.  Task groups were formed and continue to make progress.  In her report to the membership, the Board president wrote that in addition to the two top strategies, a third high-leverage strategy emerged that day:  "The need to celebrate our successes, and make the accomplishments of URISA and its members more visible."

Although many of the Board members have known each other for decades, they had never given themselves time for extended, uninterrupted exchange about the things that matter most to them.  That personal contact among respected peers transformed the way they look at themselves and allowed them to expand their organizational self-concept.


We designed and facilitated a day-long strategic visioning retreat with the purpose "To broaden our shared vision of URISA's future, building on our existing core strengths and focusing on strategies that can leverage our organization even more."  We used the format of an Appreciative Inquiry summit with brief, rich discovery of strengths through paired interviews, description of the organization's positive core, visioning, and selection and initial design of the two critical strategic directions.