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From Site Selection magazine, September 2019

Planning with a View Toward Inclusion and Transparency

Charles Waltz

IAMC had annual strategic plans in its early years. That sounds like a contradiction of terms, doesn’t it? A one-year strategic plan? But I’ve also heard the process worked just fine for a while. As a brand new organization, the logical planning horizon was relatively short. Of course, as IAMC matured, this needed to be extended. And soon, we did begin multi-year planning.

I’d like to use this letter to give you some context about the current strategic planning process. Why now? Why not next year or the year after? What will be different about this plan? What planning process are we using? The finished product will be announced and detailed at the Milwaukee Professional Forum.

It’s been five years since the last full-fledged strategic planning process. The useful life of such plans is often in the range of two to five years. Then-Board Chair Mert Livingstone began the process for the previous plan, which he christened “IAMC 2020.” It was completed the next year by George Manos. They did a great job. The one thing that stands out in my mind about it was their extensive efforts to get member input. We learned a lot. IAMC grew and prospered as a result. But today the membership and competitive landscapes are very different, and the old plan is too dated to help us move forward.

Today, we have big changes to navigate, many of which are not even mentioned in the old plan. The Corporate members’ companies are demanding more and better professional education for their employees, with less travel to obtain it. The Service Provider members are facing stiffer competition from companies based in the U.S. and abroad. The Economic Developers see strong pressures for better returns on their marketing budgets.

New technologies appear set to change the face of the real estate industry. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are forecast to take over many research jobs, repetitive tasks and clerical chores. This will affect IAMC’s membership, but most likely not reduce its size.

The ultimate retail buyers’ demands for next-day or this-afternoon delivery of their purchases will revolutionize corporate supply chain processes and facilities. This is happening quickly. The old facilities are often in the wrong places to serve the evolving supply chains. They also lack the technology to support robotic stocking, picking and packing that is the wave of the future. The new facilities will require about 25% of the labor as used by the old.

I could go on and on about these changes, but you get the idea. IAMC will be supporting its members and their companies in this changing environment. The organization must anticipate and change with the times to enable it to do this.

Moreover, the governance capabilities of IAMC’s board, leaders and staff have matured in its 17 years of existence. Today, we have a more orthodox view of strategic planning. We know better how to craft the plans, and we understand better how to implement them. In 2019, we need and are ready for more sophisticated planning.

Following current professional association and general business practice, our planning process and the end results need to be comprehensively communicated to and understood by the membership. We’ve engaged service providers, who are professional association experts, to guide and advise this process. In turn, they have made 250 member contacts (an impressive representative sample size) to better understand the needs of the organization. I’ve been impressed by their support. I believe we’re going to deliver a strong strategic plan at the Milwaukee Forum. I hope this letter gives you some background and context for understanding the planning process and the ultimate product.

Please register and make plans to attend the Milwaukee Forum if you’ve not already done so. You can do this at, where you can read about the Forum’s 15 CRE professional development workshops and the event’s outstanding leadership and motivational speakers. Be there. You won’t regret it.

Best regards,

Charles Waltz
Chair, IAMC Board of Directors

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