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Presidents Message July 2008

Our Remarkable Society
By Robert W. Bruce

In a recent study, seven things were found to make associations “remarkable.” As many of you know, STLE is doing each of these and doing some of them quite well:

  • Customer service culture
    • Headquarters staff is a good example of STLE’s commitment to customer focus.
  • Alignment of services with STLE’s mission and vision
    • Mission: To advance the science of tribology and the practice of lubrication engineering to foster innovation, improve performance of equipment and products, conserve resources and protect the environment.
    • Vision: To be a leader in the global network of individuals, institutions, societies and corporate entities with a common interest in advancing the science of tribology and the practice of lubrication engineering.
  • Data-driven strategies
    • The 2005 Membership Needs Study is a good example of how STLE sets its priorities.
  • Dialogue and engagement
    • Sharing and communicating knowledge.
  • Executive as broker of ideas
    • Shared vision and collaborative action.
  • Organizational adaptability
    • Clarity about mission.
  • Alliance building
    • Recognize strengths and weaknesses.

I want to summarize this coming year’s efforts around the question: How can we make this remarkable society even more remarkable?
We are encouraging each activity-driven group within our organization to outline and pursue improvements. Top priorities right now are focusing specifically on how to improve our governance structure, how to improve our Web site, and how to increase membership.

STLE’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee are re-inventing themselves. We have been educated for a couple of years now about how to govern better, and we certainly aim to communicate better and more often. We are streamlining communications with those activities most central to STLE’s existence. That should enable us to delegate more and focus on special issues and the future, while many of the organizational functions are on auto pilot.

One such issue already has been put on auto pilot, and I want to thank Wayne Ward, chairman of the Finance Committee, for developing a method for setting membership dues and attendance fees based on his more than a dozen years of experience with this issue.

We have planned outlays for improvements to the capabilities of our Web site. You might have seen the Web demonstration booth in the exhibit area in Cleveland that shows the latest features that are being added in an ongoing plan to better use the Internet to serve our mission. Local sections, technical committees and industry councils, as well as our Education and Membership Committees, are encouraged to use the new features of the upgraded Web site to better accomplish their goals and STLE’s mission.

Our Membership Committee has been working with HQ staff to develop an operating manual for local sections. A year-long effort with contributions from many individuals has resulted in a compilation of proven methods and useful guidelines for local sections that will be published shortly.

The manual is another auto pilot project that helps local sections flourish without extended help from STLE’s regional vice presidents. After having done an excellent job of minimizing the loss of members (by monitoring what their interests are and providing expected benefits in a timely fashion), the Membership Committee now will start focusing on recruiting new members.

Based on the above, I am anticipating that we will see some significant improvements this year, making STLE even more remarkable.

Bob Bruce is principal engineer, tribology, at GE Aircraft Engines in Cincinnati. You can reach him at robert.w.bruce@ae.ge.com.


1. Golden, M.J., “What Makes Associations Remarkable?,” Journal of Association Leadership, Spring 2007.

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