Mark R. McLellan

The Institute of Food Technologists is embarking on a process of change, which will fundamentally redesign this Institute, its structures and operations. A change process, commissioned by 2001–02 IFT President Philip E. Nelson, focused on the goal of delivering a new IFT—an IFT that is dedicated to meeting its member needs as a top priority, standing up as the chief spokesperson for sound science regarding food policy, supportive and nurturing of our profession, and the place to go to for information regarding the science of food. 

Motivated by the our world crisis of this past year, struggling economics of associations in general, and a overwhelming need to put member and organization back in to step with one another, IFT engaged in a soul-searching process to reassess our current directions and to look at our core values and goals. The result of that process is the release of this, our 2002 IFT Strategic Plan and the engagement of a process of change—a change designed to rework the Institute and fundamentally alter the underlining motivation of action inside the Institute. Where others called for winds of change, we called for a hurricane capable of reworking the landscape of IFT. 

The process was classic, but the intent was anything but typical. The intent was to create a driving force that will pull IFT into a highly dynamic process of change. The planning team reviewed strategic assumptions and assessed future external opportunities and threats. We explored our insight on mega-issues facing our members and framed our view of IFT in a sobering focus. We then envisioned a core IFT ideology expressing both purpose and values. We went on to develop a long-range direction with 3- to 5-year goals accompanied by possible strategies and milestones. 

Our first effort was to study, discuss, and agree on a set of core values for the Institute. Though each could warrant a presentation alone, together they describe a value set worthy of placing your honor behind. Our value set is among those concepts we choose to defend as unshakable and true to our heart as an organization. It speaks to our focus on member needs, our ethics, and our strengths. Our core values challenge us to rise to the occasion and act as foundations upon which we can operate with conviction and a common appreciation. 

Next, we set about defining a new core purpose for the Institute, one that would embody our future, one that recognized the reality of our member needs yet sought to fulfill the dreams and hopes of a yet-to-be-realized future. We captured an untamed sense of possibility produced if we simply started to view ourselves not as a member organization but rather as a community, a family of individuals, a network of friends, a partner when in need, and a globe-spanning set of colleagues. What is IFT? We are a community. And as a community, we have many more resources and talents and opportunities than we ever envisioned as an association. 

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As in any community, the lifeblood is communication and interaction—a combination of which we choose to call simply connection! By nurturing, ensuring, and supporting connection throughout the community, we commit ourselves to the vitality of the community. And by ensuring our vitality, we also commit to advancing that which also binds us together: our profession. When translating this to an even greater vision, perhaps a 20-year goal, it might be voiced as The Institute of Food Technologists intends to become the most respected, most far-reaching, indispensable community for food science and technology. 

Once we described our core purpose, it was clear that we needed to establish our brand identity, a sense of how IFT was to be known. Just as Campbell’s Soup is simply “mm mm good!” IFT will be synonymous with indispensable leading-edge products, services, and experiences. Are we there yet? No way! But we now have a new commitment, a new vision, and a new expectation of ourselves. 

It’s one thing to advertise our brand; it is another to deliver what the brand promises. The planning team did not misunderstand the undertaking we were about to engage. To meet the promise of indispensability and leading edge, we set up four goals to accomplish in the next five years. Reaching for these goals will take us a long ways toward making good on our brand. The goals are a tangible path and guidance as we remake IFT. 

Next the trick was to design a process to change an organization that is far more like an ocean liner than a speedboat. Turning on a dime is not something for which we are known. President Phil Nelson engaged 50 people spread across four task forces whose job over the next six months is now to reengineer IFT resources—including committee structure and charge, operational behavior, and resource distribution—to achieve by summer 2003 a new organization which will be tuned to and focused on our new 5-year goals. Because of the extreme nature of the change possible and the likelihood of conflicting vision, all of the task force leaders will be meeting on a regular schedule to harmonize their task force visions of change. Riding herd over all the change implementation will be the Executive Committee of the Institute. Although the strategic plan goes into great illustrative detail as to possible strategies, it will be these task forces that will fundamentally set up the change needed to sustain a long-term commitment to the plan. 

A few special challenges deserve some special attention. Three supporting task forces were also set up to feed into the process. The first was commissioned jointly with the IFT Student Association to look at student members of IFT, their recruitment and retention; the task force leader is Kirby Hayes. The second was commissioned to look at our members globally and the opportunity to build a community that spans our global membership; the task force leader is Charles Manley. And the third was commissioned to look at IFT from a business perspective and to rethink and explore opportunities to build new revenues through new business models; the leader is André Bolaffi. 

The IFT Foundation is aligning its fundraising strategies to reflect the initiatives of IFT’s new Strategic Plan.

IFT is changing. The process is in place, and the plan is laid out (details can be found at IFT will be a highly member-focused organization devoted to enhancing our community of science by connecting resources, people, and knowledge. We will affect public policy, and we will do so by being a most authoritative and credible resource worldwide. 

Welcome to the new IFT, the community of food science professionals!

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IFT Core Values
• Focus on members
• Act with integrity
• Value diversity
• Foster inventive and adaptive leadership
• Demonstrate responsible stewardship
• Champion sound science in the interest of public well-being

IFT Core Purpose
• To connect the food science and technology community and to advance the profession.

IFT Brand Identity
• Indispensable leading-edge products, services, and experiences for its members.

IFT 5-Year Goals
• IFT will be its members’ primary indispensable resource for science and technology programs, services and experiences worldwide.
Task Force A, Richard H. Dougherty, Leader

• IFT will be the effective advocate for sound science in the development of food-related public policy.
Task Force B, Bruce R. Stillings, Leader

• IFT will achieve significant public recognition and advancement of the profession of food science and technology.
Task Force C, S. Suzanne Nielsen, Leader

• IFT will be the “go-to,” authoritative and credible resource worldwide for food science and technology.
Task Force D, William D. Davidson, Leader

by Mark R. McLellan,
2002–03 IFT President