Advancing Strategic Plans

Advancing Strategic Plans
National Council of Architectural Registration Board logo on a blue background


Michael J. Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer of the National Council of Architectural Registration Board talks with Jay Younger, FASAE on how McKinley Advisors has helped shape the organization’s future and ensure its success through effective strategic planning..

Interview Transcription:

Michael: I’m Mike Armstrong and I am the Chief Executive Officer at the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. One of the big challenges facing architecture today is regarding the expectation of what we call the “emerging professional,” the person that might be in school today, or maybe they’re out of school and still pursuing their internship and are at the very beginning of their career. And this generation has been discussed—in a variety of contexts, by a variety of professionals—in terms of attitude, expectations, goals and objectives. They are influenced by the availability of social media and by technology as an assumed tool rather than as an optional tool or as a luxury. And also they are impacted by what has happened in the post-recession economy. Whole businesses have had to reinvent themselves to create new types of job and get rid of other types of jobs. This has caused this generation to have to be more agile and flexible in terms of what they might pursue. And they also have this passion for design that sometimes is hard to reconcile with the rigor that’s required to become a licensed architect. So how does a passion for design, a knowledge of technology and the awareness of the post-recession economy impact how we design a path forward for emerging professionals? That’s a real challenge for us.

Jay: NCARB is a really unique organization. It has a kind of dual purpose: it provides direct services to tens of thousands of licensed architects, but also serves as the national organization and convener for 54 state boards. Having that dichotomy within the organization can be a challenge, particularly given all the dynamic issues that are facing the profession.

Michael: Member boards, by their nature, tend to have architects that are in the latter half of their career, yet they are trying to develop policies or execute rules that largely affect people who are at the beginning of their career. And you get this tension between, “this is necessary even if you don’t like it,” versus “you’re so removed from the real experience that you don’t really understand,” or “you’re not aware of what it is we know or what we’re going through.” So sometimes we get pulled in as a broker between these two extremes.

Jay: Listening to all those points of view and reflecting that each one is special and unique is a big part of building a consensus.

Michael: Ideally, if you have a consultant that you hire to do strategic planning or advising, they should go as deep as they can, because the success of the CEO is tied to credibility one has with both their board and staff and their stakeholders. An extra set of eyes and ears that says: “you’re missing this,” or “they didn’t hear it the way you thought you said it,” or “something needs to be done to fix this.” You need a realistic colleague along the way and sometimes that has to happen from the outside.