December, 2009
From the ASHI President.
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Times are a-Changin'

WILLIAM (BILL) RICHARDSON

Wow! It’s almost a year since I started serving as your president. It’s been a hectic one, for sure. I’ve been able to travel to several of our chapters for their educational seminars and meet with many members. I have had the pleasure of seeing several non-members sign up at these events. I think most home inspectors realize that belonging to the largest and most respected home inspector association is beneficial to their business and success.

Also, I’ve had the pleasure of chairing three of the four Board meetings scheduled this year. The pleasure comes from working with the other members of the Board. Our Board members are all volunteers and they give their time and knowledge to benefit all of us. During the meetings, they bring many things to the table and are as outspoken as you would expect home inspectors to be.

That brings me to this month’s topic: governance. ASHI has a unique governance model, much different from other associations. We have the Council of Representatives (COR), which is made up of representatives from chapters and unaffiliated groups of members. This creates a dual governance structure that sometimes can be cumbersome. The Board makes motions based on knowledge presented at Board meetings and sometimes during  Executive sessions.

Sometimes, the COR disputes what the Board has decided because the representatives do not have the same information as the Board has. The result is a mixed message to the members. Also, it means the Board must send motions up and down the COR ranks, which keeps the Board from responding to changing issues on a timely basis.

The Board has been working on this governance issue for some time. At the July meeting, the Board hired an organizational consultant to present models of governance to it in December. These models will be based on effective and successful associations. The Board will look at these models and decide which one fits and should be presented to the membership for a bylaw vote. I believe whatever model is chosen will not look anything like what we have now.

Having been involved in leadership for many years and seeing how our governance operates, I know we need this change. ASHI is no longer the same organization, nor does it have the same type of member as it did when our governance was changed in the early 90s. Before the change, the Board was made up of chapter presidents, and when I served on it, I was one of 54. We changed to what we have now. Now, it’s time to change again.

The Board must make decisions on the course of the organization and the profession. Sometimes, these decisions need to be made and implemented quickly. We are unable to do that now and sometimes end up behind the curve. In my opinion, the Board needs to be smaller so it’s nimbler, and it should have access to an outside advisory council made up of various real estate and inspector entities. It might be better equipped to make decisions for the future if it was not limited to home inspectors.

Also, the Board should have a say in the nominating process. Today, both officers and director nominees are chosen by a small group of council representatives who may not have been to a Board meeting or know how the nominees work with others. ASHI Certified Inspectors vote for the officers, but the directors’ ballot goes to the 100+ council representatives, not all of whom vote.

If the Board was responsible for soliciting and nominating officer and director candidates, the position would find the person rather than finding a person to fill the position. Current officers and directors are familiar with the skills needed for national leadership, and they would be able to identify qualified persons who fit that need. Both the officer and director slates should be presented to the full members for their vote.

This year, my mantra has been “this ain’t your daddy’s ASHI.” You have seen how ASHI has changed the way it looks, has introduced new programs and has taken a new direction. ASHI is taking the steps necessary to provide members with the tools, skills and knowledge they need to be more successful in their businesses. ASHI has also put in place programs that enhance the profession. Changing our governance will help ASHI be better equipped to make decisions that benefit the members and the profession.    

I’m sure there will be conflicting views on what I have written. There will be some who are dead set against any change. Remember, without change there is no growth. We all have made changes in our lives and businesses to keep up with the times. Now, it is time for ASHI to do the same. Let me know your thoughts.