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State Board Report

April 2016

I am writing this month’s President’s Memo after arriving back in Nashville, TN, from a trip to Canada where I attended an international financial meeting. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is the opportunity to meet and work with other associations, regulatory bodies and individuals from all over the globe that have nexus to NASBA. After a few years of experience as President and CEO, I have become much more interested in the various cultures of these organizations and their people, and I have begun to compare and contrast NASBA to them.

Merriam-Webster defines "culture," as it pertains to organizations, as: "The set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterize an institution or organization or its activities." Of course, any institution or organization is made up of people who often come from different backgrounds and experiences, with resulting contrasting attitudes. Some time ago it occurred to me that, for our organization to move to the next level of efficiency, we should redefine our culture.

NASBA, as a business entity, is made up of highly qualified, competent and often competitive individual staff members who work in various, and sometimes very disparate, sub-organizations and business units. As in any organization, there is a natural tendency to gravitate to what I refer to as a "bucketed mentality." Our infrastructure and processes had only amplified that tendency. With the support of our governance and staff leadership, we have taken it upon ourselves to begin changing our culture and to aspire to continuing to ramp up our capabilities and capacity to provide greater service to the Boards of Accountancy.

During this past week we completed the second construction phase of the major move in our Tennessee site, as staff from the 13th floor were relocated to the 7th floor. By the first of May we will have completed the third, and final, phase and all NASBA staff in both Nashville and New York will be in recently redesigned environments.

In Nashville we focused on light, transparency, collaboration and opportunity. Literally every employee has access to direct sunlight. High walled cubicles and most offices have been eliminated and collaborative work spaces (glassed enclaves, stand-up areas, and community areas) are placed throughout the floors. Individual break rooms were reduced to coffee areas and a new centralized employee cafeteria area encourages all staff to break together to get to know each other better. I am very pleased to report that we are already seeing a difference in behaviors, relationships and work methodologies. As importantly, the new spaces and technologies are promising greater productivity.

In the New York City office, which moved to the 12th floor last year, the atmosphere is also light, but quiet and efficient, with a conference room ready to accommodate meetings with representatives who are attending professional gatherings in the financial hub.

So why is all this, including the effort to change our culture, important to State Boards. Frankly, this is about you and the type and level of services and support NASBA can provide to you. We have made a large investment in the infrastructure changes and I like being transparent about how we spend – and make – NASBA money. More importantly, as we want Boards of Accountancy to be the benefactors of our transition, having you know of the changes we are making invites your feedback.

To be a continuing, growing, relevant association, a process of ongoing improvement and change is critical, and often requires alteration of culture. To quote Frances Hesselbein, author, speaker and former CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA: "Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day."

Semper ad meliora. (Always toward better things.)

— Ken L. Bishop
President and CEO

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