A little more than a year ago, the NCRA Board of Directors launched an effort to create a five-year strategic plan for the association. The process began with face-to-face discussions with members at the 2012 Convention & Expo in Philadelphia and continued with a comprehensive membership needs assessment in September and October. Going right to the membership, we wanted to know what you saw as the biggest challenges within the court reporting industry and in what areas you felt NCRA could have the biggest impact on the industry, on your business, and on your career.
The Board then held two strategic-planning retreats – one in November and one in March – to synthesize what we had learned through our conversations and our membership needs assessment. And then we put pen to paper and wrote a strategic plan. Our success as an organization and even as an industry will be dependent upon our collective ability to succeed in advancing six strategic priorities.
EDUCATION. There is no bigger challenge for the court reporting industry than getting more students into court reporting programs across North America and getting more qualified court reporters out into the marketplace. Education, thus, is the first priority of Vision 2018, the NCRA strategic plan. Here, initially we will follow the guidance of the Vision for Educational Excellence Task Force (VEETF) in three key areas: Assessing the long-term demand for court reporters and captioners to allow court reporting programs to shape their recruitment campaigns accordingly; attracting more youth to court reporting through an innovative Web-based initiative to teach rudimentary theory to prospective students in a low-cost manner; and, finally, isolating best practices of those schools that graduate the highest percentage of students and finding ways to incorporate those best practices into standards.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. The biggest reason that court reporters join NCRA is to build the knowledge and skills needed to advance in a competitive industry and to gain recognition of such achievement through certification. Keeping our certification programs strong, therefore, along with offering an ever-improving array of continuing education opportunities, is NCRA’s second strategic priority.
AWARENESS AND OUTREACH. It is difficult to have a conversation with any member in which he or she does not express the need for more people within the legal community and beyond to have a stronger appreciation for the role of the stenographic court reporter. That has been a major focus for NCRA in recent years and will remain so under our new strategic plan.
ADVOCACY. Going hand-in-glove with our Awareness and Outreach strategy is Advocacy, working at both the national and state level to represent the interests of court reporting and the constituents served by our industry.
RESOURCES. One of the key benefits that members indicate they get out of NCRA is access to information — about technology, about industry trends, about how to better promote your services to your prospective clients and beyond. In digging a little deeper, what we have learned is it’s not just about information — it’s about packaging this information into tools that members can put to immediate and long-term use.
MEMBER VALUE. Our sixth and final strategic priority is probably both the most obvious and the most ambiguous, and that is Member Value. In a way, if we deliver in the way we intend in the first five strategic areas, we will in the process be creating more Member Value. And that’s sort of the point: our strategic priorities all should crosspollinate and complement each other. Beyond that, however, we want to continually enhance the value proposition we offer to our membership in such a way that every court reporter, captioner, legal videographer, firm owner, and instructor — anyone who has a stake in the stenographic court reporting industry — would be crazy not to be a member of the National Court Reporters Association.
Finally, we are taking on some major new challenges with our new strategic plan. Our ability to do so is dependent upon our ability to mobilize the court reporting community to assist us. This year, the NCRA Board is asking our volunteer committees to take on more ambitious charges that are pegged more specifically to the strategic priorities I just described. In so doing, we hope and expect that members will play a more direct and meaningful role in executing the tactics that advance our strategy. That, in turn, will make volunteering that much more of a fulfilling endeavor and, in so doing, will encourage a new corps of volunteers to step forward to allow NCRA to do even more and to do it better than ever before. That is our vision. Now we’re going to make it happen, together.