IHBC Yearbook 2013

R E V I E W 15 As a measure of that success, we continue to benefit from widespread and enthusiastic support from members and volunteers, old and new. In fact, despite more organisational infrastructure, we rely more than ever on the goodwill of supporters as they – you – help not only through fees but also by contributing time, e"ort, skills and guidance. That we can now be guided by person specifications for our most critical volunteers, our trustees, shows how much we can target the particular skills and contributions of volunteers. With that volunteer support, we have spread our ambitions wider than anticipated in +,%$. The NewsBlogs have developed as a service that, to our surprise, has proved to be as valuable to the IHBC as outreach as it is as a service provided to members. The NewsBlogs have played an important role in underpinning the success of our social networking initiatives. The growth of our social network, primarily driven by our LinkedIn group, has been timely and has contributed substantially to council reducing its estimation of the risk associated with sector ignorance of the IHBC. Circulating NewsBlogs about the IHBC’s work via social media – a process led by past IHBC chair Dave Chetwyn – has communicated our messages to a wide range of specialist and non-specialist interests in the historic environment. And as the NewsBlogs can be forwarded by anyone direct from the NewsBlog page itself, everyone is encouraged to contribute to this wider dissemination and promotion, while for non-members our online member registration is then only a few clicks away. Our +,%$ target was to have /$ per cent of all IHBC members in our social networks by #$%*. This target had become meaningless by #$%# as we already had twice as many people in our networks as in our membership. The fact that we didn’t foresee the speed with which our networks would grow may reflect our past inexperience with social media but we can take pride in our progress, especially when this is compared to that of other, comparable bodies in the heritage sector. More recently, the introduction of the IHBC’s ‘Webstarter’, a mobilefriendly introduction to the #*,$$$ pages on our website, has brought more – and more early-career – interests into our fold. As so many of the younger generation of mainstream professionals are just as comfortable with the environmentally friendly processes that the IHBC espouses as they are with mobile technology, these early introductions to the IHBC are critical investments in the future of the profession and the institute. That said, our actual membership numbers have remained relatively static in #$%# with new members roughly balancing those retiring and resigning. However, against the backdrop of a static economy and a wholly unsympathetic political climate, this is a good achievement – and a comparatively rare one. More important, though, is that the NewsBlogs have delivered a substantially higher profile not just for the IHBC but for the sector as a whole. LOOKING AHEAD With the annual review safely negotiated, we can turn to the future. As one of the targets for this year is the review and promotion of a new corporate plan for 2015, to scope out issues for our changing work environment, I will conclude with a ‘scatter-gun’ selection of points that need to be integrated into our future plan: • one local council has recently approached us about securing our formal involvement in sta" training and development • accreditation, howsoever it is interpreted, remains critical, whether in terms of identifying skills internally or for national and European standards • social media and the accompanying softening of professional boundaries lets us reach new sectors and create new interfaces and networks • governance, especially around member and volunteer contributions and trustee skills development, is central for the future • sustainability, in its widest (and uncorrupted) sense, still o"ers huge hope for our environmental aspirations, even if political and economic environments remain challenging • progress through partnering is critical for any small organisation and, since we are in a stronger position here than ever before, we must build on that • agreeing educational priorities in the sector, especially regarding relevant conservation skills, remains central, not least in the context of the ongoing challenges of new legislation and planning processes • course evaluation and evolving links to vocational qualifications represent a major opportunity for extending our values • reductions in local authority capacity, alongside new priorities that put growth over other public values, mean that we must find new ways to maintain civic and amenity priorities in how we manage change. So there you are: a stab at future issues that will need to be integrated somehow into our next corporate plan. If you have any more thoughts on what the IHBC needs to highlight or address in our future planning do let us know when our NewsBlog calls for more ideas. Seán O’Reilly, director@ihbc.org.uk Branch Connection Day held at the Old Joint Stock, Birmingham, November 2012