The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
has begun a process that will assist the Association in creating
clarity and focus on how it should invest its valuable resources
on the identified wants, preferences and needs of its members and
other stakeholder groups. As part of this effort, the AAPG has begun
a strategic planning and thinking project that will lead to growth
for the organization. This plan facilitates (a) AAPGs identification
of the future needs of members and other identified stakeholders
and (b) AAPGs options for satisfying those needs. The planning
process marks a significant juncture in the organizations
history and the results of this plan will initiate choices that
the association will make for future success.
Strategic Planning Steps
1 -- Initial Planning by AAPG Advisory Council
On August 22, 2003, the AAPG Advisory Council
began the strategic planning and thinking process with a discussion
about current conditions and future assumptions regarding their
profession. This information was used to form an initial set
of options for defining the organizations core ideology
and envisioned future. The framework used for this initial discussion
and the entire planning process is a model of strategic judgments
organized into four time-related horizons outlined on page 5.
2 -- Test
Initial Planning Elements
Following the initial strategic planning meeting, qualitative
research in the form of telephone interviews was conducted with
a selected group of AAPG leaders. The purpose of the qualitative
research was to test the Advisory Councils initial thinking
on their suggested strategic direction for AAPG with other leaders
both past and present.
3 -- Program
The next step of AAPGs comprehensive strategic planning
and thinking process was to assess the organizations current
portfolio of programs and services to determine their fit with
the Associations strategic direction. The assessment was
conducted by a team of AAPG senior staff and volunteer leaders
assisted by an outside consultant. The tool used to assess each
program and service was introduced by the consultant and is
currently used by hundreds of other associations.
4 -- Identification
The final report generated from the program assessment exercise
assisted the AAPG Advisory Council in formulating strategies.
Strategies are the action statements articulating how the Association
will implement its strategic plan.
On February 6, 2004, the Advisory Council continued its discussion
of the strategic plan. At this meeting the Council used the
results of the qualitative interviews as well as the Program
Assessment to refine the existing strategic planning elements
and to create an initial set of strategies.
5 -- Testing
of Strategic Plan with Larger Leadership Group
On February 7, 2004, the completed draft strategic plan was
offered to a larger group of association leaders to comment
on at their Leadership Conference. Session participants were
offered opportunities to discuss the draft strategic plan in
small groups. Their feedback was tabulated and provided to the
AAPG Advisory Council for their review and consideration.
6 -- Testing
of Strategic Plan with General Membership
Prior to the Advisory Councils next meeting, a survey
was developed and made available on AAPGs Web site for
member participation and response. AAPG members were notified
by e-mail that the survey was available. The survey results
represented 1,016 member responses. This feedback was used to
finalize the draft strategic plan to be reviewed and refined
at the Advisory Councils next meeting.
7 -- Final
Completion of Strategic Plan
On April 17, 2004, the AAPG Advisory Council met together to
consider the suggested changes recommended by participants of
the Leadership Conference and to consider the results of a quantitative
survey that was available on AAPGs Web site for members
to complete. At the completion of the meeting, the Advisory
Council finished the strategic plan and discussed a communications
strategy and next steps.
8 -- Implementation
Association staff is responsible for creating the operational
plans to execute the strategic plan. Volunteer leaders articulate
direction through strategic planning and staff identifies the
resources and how the strategic plan will be implemented. With
the assistance of an outside consultant, staff will begin the
ongoing process of creating action plans and the operational
structure and processes to support the strategic plan.
Outline of Strategic Planning Process
Using the Four Planning Horizons model as a framework and
group dialogue and deliberation as the information source, the session
participants created the following:
- A set of assumptions about the future of the petroleum industry
and the professionals that work within it.
- A list of relevant factors in the long-range horizon (10-15
years into the future), core purpose, core values, Big Audacious
Goal (B.A.G.) and a vivid description of future success.
- Six goal areas that identify where the AAPG will direct its
energy in the next one - 10 year planning horizon. The goal areas
focus on outcomes beneficial to AAPG and its members.
- A set of strategic objectives (3-5 years) in each goal area
setting measurable direction for the organization to head in to
achieve its goals.
- A set of strategies that identify the actions the organization
will undertake in the next 1-3 years in order to achieve each
An Ongoing Process of Thinking Strategically
AAPGs leadership views the process of strategic planning
as an ongoing process within AAPG. This is not a "strategic
planning project" that is completed. Adoption of a plan is
an affirmation of the general intent and direction articulated by
the vision, goals and strategic objectives.
Progress toward achieving plan strategic objectives will be assessed
annually, and the plan will be updated based on achievement and
changes in the needs of the stakeholders served.
Assumptions About the Relevant
In order to make progress against the 10-15 year Envisioned
Future; an organization must constantly anticipate the strategic
factors likely to affect its ability to succeed, and to assess the
implications of those factors. This process of building foresight
about the future assists AAPG in constantly recalibrating its view
of the relevant future, a basis upon which to update the strategic
plan on an annual basis. The outcome-oriented short-term goals are
based on the long-range assumptions identified below. Annual review
of the assumptions and their ongoing relation to the short-term
goals is an appropriate method of determining and ensuring the ongoing
relevance of the strategic plan.
- The industrys professional community will increasingly
- Career opportunities will continue to be volatile and will affect
student interest in entering the profession.
- The professions North American work force will increasingly
- Company policies will continue to change in order to encourage
women to enter and remain in the profession.
- Ethnic diversity of the membership will increase internationally
as AAPG becomes more global in its outreach.
- The work force will increasingly be self-employed and will rely
on outside resources that are easy and inexpensive to obtain.
- Younger people are less likely to support association membership
- People will change careers more often.
- Internal company training will continue to decrease.
- Sectors of the U.S. government will continue to view the industry
- Increasingly, countries will have a unique and different relationship
with the industry.
- Governments will continue to be "crisis motivated"
in reacting to the industry.
- Special interest groups will increasingly provide one-sided
advice to governments on the industry and the information will
be interpreted as scientific fact.
- Geologists will continue to be a small voting block.
Global Business/Economic Climate
- Oil prices will remain somewhat predictable and within a stable
- Gas prices will continue to be influenced by regional differences.
- Consuming areas will increasingly diversify their gas sources.
- There will be increased international partnering by oil and
- There will be increased opportunity for independent oil and
gas companies outside of North America and Europe.
- Instability in the Middle East will continue to affect oil prices
and may affect gas prices.
- World economies will improve.
- Industry research will continue to decline due to company pressures
from Wall Street to make profits.
- Most research will be conducted by universities, government
labs, NGOs, and service companies.
- Small and midsize companies will continue to adopt exit strategies
reducing exploration drilling primarily in the United States and
- Water resources availability will increasingly become an issue.
- Management will continue to respond to the volatility of the
market by making short-term operational decisions.
- There will be an increasing disconnect between classic geological
education and training and new technologies.
- The industry will continue to be influenced by cross-over technology
coming from other industries.
- New technologies will continue to come from small entrepreneurial
companies who now have the tools to compete with larger companies.
- The speed in which technology becomes outdated will increase.
- Drug technology will continue to extend life.
- As resources for research decline, companies will partner with
academia for their research needs.
- The resources available for research will be different in different
parts of the world.
- As technology grows, the understanding and application of the
fundamentals of the profession will decline.
- There will be an increase in environmental awareness and responsibility.
- Oil and gas will continue to be important energy resources for
productive economies worldwide.
- There will be increased consumption of oil and gas resources
in developing countries.
- International political instability and terrorism will continue.
- Political issues will become more global.
- Oil prices will continue to affect world economics.
- Climate change will necessitate changes in the energy industry.
- Government regulation of the energy industry will increase worldwide.
- Governments will look to the energy industry for increased revenue.
- Globalization of membership will lead to a relative decrease
in volunteer time and money.
- In the United States, the concentration of petroleum geoscientists
into the Houston area will continue.
10-15 Year Planning
Core Ideology & Envisioned Future
Core ideology describes an associations consistent
identity that transcends all changes related to its relevant environment.
It consists of two elements: core purpose -- the associations
reason for being; and core values -- essential and enduring
principles that guide an association. Envisioned future conveys
a concrete yet unrealized vision for the association. It consists
of a big audacious goal -- a clear and compelling catalyst
that serves as a focal point for effort -- and a vivid description
-- vibrant and engaging descriptions of what it will be like
to achieve the big audacious goal.
To advance the science and profession of energy-related geosciences
- Scientific excellence.
- High quality membership services.
- Recognizes responsibility to society.
- Professional development.
- Open communication.
- Recognition of scientific and professional achievement.
Big Audacious Goal:
To be indispensable to all professionals in the energy-related
A Vivid Description of the Desired Future:
- Society recognizes geoscience professionals as contributing
to the availability of reasonably priced and environmentally
- The petroleum industry is publicly perceived as a protector
of a healthy and sustainable environment.
- The standard of living worldwide is enhanced as a result of
- Employers recognize the value of geoscience professionals to
- Members are aware of and depend on AAPG for their career tools.
- AAPG members are preferred by employers.
- AAPG members are the resource for the public, governments, and
- For their understanding of energy related resources.
- For unbiased and factual geoscience information.
- For finding and producing efficient and environmentally sustainable
- AAPG members are professional and ethical and are accepted by
courts, states, and countries as expert witnesses.
- AAPG is recognized for publishing and teaching at the cutting-edge
- Every energy related geoscientist belongs to AAPG.
- AAPG develops, supports, and promotes environmentally sound
practices within the profession.
- AAPG is recognized for promoting environmentally friendly production
of hydrocarbons worldwide.
- AAPG has the best student placement programs within the profession.
- AAPG offers high quality professional development and continuous
- AAPG is the preeminent source of information on the energy
- AAPG is the preferred place to publish for energy-related
- AAPG offers the best career long benefits package.
- Other organizations recognize the benefits of merging or partnering
1-10 Year Planning Horizon
Outcome-Oriented Goals, Strategic Objectives and Strategies
The following thinking represents goal areas for the next one
to 10 years. They are areas in which AAPG will explicitly state
the conditions or attributes it wants to achieve. These outcome
statements define "what will constitute future success."
The achievement of each goal will move the organization toward realization
of its vision. The goal areas are not necessarily in priority order.
Strategic Objectives and Strategies provide direction and actions
on how the Association will accomplish its articulated goals. Strategic
Objectives are considered in the 3-5 year planning horizon, while
Strategies are considered within the 1-3 year planning horizon.
The Strategies are listed under the Strategic Objective they support.
Strategies are reviewed annually by the AAPG leadership.
The Strategies are prioritized to reflect the urgency of accomplishing
them. Each strategy is labeled with a (H) high, (M) medium or (L)
low rating. High Strategies are to be accomplished within the next
operational year, medium Strategies are to be accomplished within
the next operational year if resources permit, and low Strategies
are to be accomplished within the following operational year. All
Strategies included in the Strategic Plan should be considered accomplishable
at some point in the future.
Advance the Science
Foster, facilitate and disseminate knowledge in leading-edge research
and its practical application in the energy-related geosciences
- Encourage geoscience research both leading-edge and applied.
- Expand role of E&P Notes, Search and Discovery, and Explorer
to publish research results. (H)
- Increase effectiveness of the AAPG Research Committee. (H)
- Investigate the development of a separate publication like
SEGs Leading Edge. (H)
- Promote the value of publishing research to companies highlighting
E&P Notes, etc. (M)
- Create a plan to increase grants-in-aid to students and research
institutions to fund and publish research. (M)
- Identify high priority areas of cooperative research with
selected institutions. (M)
- Develop alternate distribution channels for research results
such as Web-based and CD ROM publications. (M/L)
- Create an AAPG-sponsored recognition program to recognize
companies for participating. (L)
- Increase corporate support for the publishing of employee and
company generated research.
- Increase cooperative research efforts with AGI and other energy
related societies and government institutions.
- Aggressively pursue sources of additional money for research
- Create and maintain a program to offer immediate publishing
opportunities (12 month maximum). (L)
Continuous Professional Development
To be the educational provider of choice for members worldwide.
- Increase timeliness and focus of publications.
- Create a strategic plan for publications (Bulletin and special
- Aggressively target editors and authors for specific themes.
- Review role of Publications Committee and Associate editors.
- Continue efforts to decrease the production time for publications.
- Shorten publications and papers for the purpose of faster
editing and reading. (H)
- Create more thematic issues of the Bulletin. (H/M)
- Make special publications more accessible (Datapages, GSW
and others to increase circulation). (M)
- Consider devoting an annual volume of the Bulletin to a geographic
- Increase the accessibility of AAPG educational opportunities.
- Create opportunities to communicate the value of educational
programs to company management using testimonials and personal
- Conduct more Education Forums in more places. (H)
- Create a curriculum of courses in conjunction with global
partners specifically for NOCs and large independents.
- Input additional posters and papers onto Search and Discovery.
- Create materials for one-day courses with local/affiliates.
- Evaluate distance learning programs. (M)
- Increase the exposure of the Distinguished Lecture Series and
Visiting Geologist Program worldwide.
- OTC Funding -- use budget surpluses to establish new DLs
- Raise additional money for Distinguished Lecture Series. (M)
- Co-venture DLS and VGP with international affiliates. (M)
- Create regional AAPG offices -- better prepared to run tours
on different continents. (M/L)
- Consider Taping DLs and offering to an expanded audience.
- Increase corporate support for member continuing education.
- Increase the role of the existing corporate liaison to include
promotion of continuing education programs. (M)
Public Awareness and Understanding
Increase the publics awareness and understanding of
the value that energy related geoscience professionals contribute
- Increase coordination and unity of public messages and communication
channels within AAPG.
- Determine and implement optimal structures within AAPG for
formulating and projecting messages. (H)
- Increase coordination of public messages among geoscience organizations.
- Contact all energy-related organizations and determine existing
outreach programs. (H)
- Identify common messages between organizations. (H)
- Expand outreach programs to increase awareness and understanding
of the geoscience professions.
- Coordinate with other industry organizations public outreach
messages and opportunities. (H)
- Create a unified campaign to deliver information to the public.
Membership and Member Services
Attract and retain members worldwide by providing programs and
services that are essential to professional career development.
- Increase member participation in existing programs and services.
- Highlight the value of an association program or service each
month in Explorer. (H)
- Increase the Associations understanding of the value of
existing programs and services.
- Conduct program assessment annually and include membership
trends in the review. (H)
- Create or use an existing committee to provide ongoing oversight
to assessment process. (H)
- Increase the value of the publications to members.
- Require Hedberg conveners to provide a summary article for
publication and encourage speakers to provide expanded abstracts
for publication. (H)
- Investigate remote publishing sites and compare with sister
societies methodology. (H)
- Continue to reduce production publication time for Bulletin.
- Solicit Review articles for the Bulletin and the DEG environmental
- Review value of entire publications program and make
recommendations for changes. (M)
- Facilitate opportunities for member networking.
- Expand regional meeting opportunities. (H)
- Conduct a membership recruitment event annually at affiliated
- Increase value of Web-based programs and services to members.
- Expand digital access of publications. (M)
- Increase retention of young professionals and students.
- Develop a plan to increase the number of affiliated society
members to become AAPG members. (H)
- Develop and implement a plan to increase the number of student
members transitioning to active membership. (M)
- Develop a plan to increase the number of associate members.
Maintain an annual balanced budget (+/- 3%).
- Increase the Foundations fundraising program.
- Develop a fundraising program to double the Foundation portfolio
by 2008. (H)
- Increase the diversity of AAPGs income stream.
- Conduct program assessment annually and develop multiple profit
centers and eliminate non-essential programs. (H)
- Research other associations for income diversification opportunities.
- Increase revenue from APPEX, international and annual meetings
- Improve publication selection process using a value vs. income
generation approach. (H)
- Develop and implement a plan to offer continuing education
units at annual meeting. (H)
- Identify and implement opportunities to increase revenue from
meetings and expo by 10 percent. (L)
- Increase training partnerships with companies, NOCs, and government
- Continue to partner with sister societies in offering training
- Continue to develop training partners program. (H)
- Reduce expenses where appropriate.
- Increase profitability of educational programs.
- Increase sustainability of Research Conferences.
- Increase profitability of Datapages/GIS.
Evolve into a global association strategically, responsibly and
to the benefit of the membership.
- Increase members knowledge and understanding of globalization.
- Conduct rigorous analysis of membership dynamics both current
and future. (H)
- Increase member support for the advantages of a global organization.
- Gather information on associations that have transitioned
to globalization. (H)
- Gather information on worldwide economic development, petroleum
industry activities and geoscience educational trends. (L)
- Sustain value and participation in all sections and regions.
- Analyze the structural, financial, and organizational changes
and impact to becoming a more global organization. (L)
5-10 Year Planning
Mega issues are issues of strategic importance, which
represent choices the organization will need to make in defining
the ultimate direction of its long-range plan. These issues represent
potential impediments to achievement of the Envisioned Future, and
form a basis for dialogue about the choices facing the organization.
These questions can serve as an ongoing "menu" of strategic
issues that, using a knowledge-based approach in gathering insights
relative to AAPGs strategic position and directional choices
for each of the issues, can be used by the board to create regular
opportunities for strategic dialogue about the issues facing the
- How does AAPG engage early career professionals so that they
retain their membership?
- How does AAPG get more people to join our profession?
- Should the AAPG consider merging with other sister societies?
- How will this organization balance the declining interest in
petroleum geosciences of North America students with the increasing
global demand for energy?
- How will AAPG address the increasing the interest in alternative
- How can AAPG be more effective in improving the involvement
of underrepresented groups in North America in the geoscience
- How can AAPG create an endowment?
- How can AAPG assist in changing the publics perception
of the "oil industry?"
- How can AAPG use our divisions more effectively?
- How can AAPG increase visibility/recognition at geoscience universities
- How can AAPG truly become a global geoscience organization?
- How does AAPG engage and retain new professionals?
- How does AAPG retain semi-retired professionals in our association?
- How should AAPG better disseminate energy-related research and
knowledge to our members and the public?
- How can AAPG encourage increased membership participation in
the work of the Association?
- How does AAPG bring the issues of sustainable resource exploration
and development into K-12 and undergraduate and graduate classrooms
- What can AAPG do to bring better science to federal environmental
and land management sciences so as to facilitate appropriate energy
- What can AAPG do to lead all of the profession to a coordinated
and funded public outreach program?
- How does AAPG maximize the availability of information and data
to members in a timely and cost effective manner?
- How can AAPG assist members with personal career development
throughout the career spectrum?
- How does AAPG operate to maintain a balanced budget and create
a small surplus?
- Is Tulsa the best place for AAPG headquarters?
- How does AAPG get management "buy-in" to the Association
so as to allow geoscientists to publish their work?
- How can research be rekindled?
- How can AAPG leadership better represent the future organization?
- How can AAPG influence more earth science students to enter
the petroleum industry?
- How does AAPG address the instability in the industry?
- How can AAPG positively affect employment opportunities for