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In April 2015, ISHLT launched a strategic planning process to look at the direction the field is moving and to develop a new Strategic Framework to guide the Society over the next 5 years. The initiative is being led by a steering committee of six: Duane Davis, ISHLT President; Maryl Johnson, ISHLT President-Elect; Stuart Sweet, ISHLT Secretary/Treasurer; David Taylor, ISHLT Past President; Andreas Zuckermann, ISHLT Member; and Amanda Rowe, ISHLT Executive Director. The first phase of this process has been to gather data and best thinking from multiple sources primarily within the organization: ISHLT members, Board Members, and Council Members, as well as from a few leaders in the field. The collected data came from 404 responses to a membership survey, 15 one-on-one interviews with leaders in the field, and the engagement of the 11 Scientific Councils.

The output of this process was a Findings Report generated by the strategic planning consultant, Susan Meier. The Report summarized the consensus ideas expressed by many as well as some thoughtful ideas presented by individuals. In October, the Board of Directors, the Strategic Planning Task Force, and several past presidents and former Board members gathered in Durham, NC to participate in a half-day strategic planning retreat at which the Findings Report was explored and from which key areas of focus were identified. These areas of focus will serve as the basis for the work of a Strategic Planning Retreat in January 2016.

Some of the significant findings are shared with you below. Additional information will be shared following the January Strategic Planning Retreat.

Current Perceptions of ISHLT
Through all of the methodological avenues, a consistent and clear message was heard that ISHLT has been increasingly effective in recent years in providing platforms for education and networking for members to engage, learn, and exchange relevant and timely knowledge and practice. No one indicated that ISHLT has been focusing on the wrong types of work or issues or that there have been any crises or flagrant problems to note.

ISHLT's reputation was uniformly praised, with a number of individuals expressing deep, long term affinity for the Society. A few interviewees expressed concerns about the challenges of expansion into developing areas (geographically and professionally) on the forefront of the Society's mandate. Many others focused more on the challenge of being a truly integrated Society when the structure of the Society is reflective of more of a silo-ization by specialties.

There is a high level of satisfaction with the current mission and purposes of the Society. In terms of the value proposition of ISHLT membership, the single most valued offering is clearly the Annual Meeting. And, yet, a key challenge facing the Society is how to address the increasing demands to offer the highest quality program that satisfies a growing diversity of interests and specialties, especially given limited resources.

The Challenges ISHLT Faces
Continual, and at times dramatic, changes have become the norm in the environment in which we live and work. Associations and other organizations have learned that being adaptive to change is integral to remaining vital and relevant. This is further emphasized by the complexity and technological advances occurring in the advanced heart and lung disease field. Even though it is impossible to predict the future, it is essential that ISHLT leaders anticipate both the challenges and opportunities that are most likely to arise in future years.

Those who contributed to the information gathering process identified a number of challenges that ISHLT and/or the field in general will be facing over the next 10-15 years. The identified challenges offer both possibilities and strategic choices for ISHLT as it explores what its priorities should be in this increasingly complex field. How does the Society balance its unique ability to convene professionals involved with heart and lung transplantation with the respective interests of the many specialties within the field? How might the Society better attract and engage younger generations? How can ISHLT effectively extend its reach to parts of the world not well represented in its membership? How will ISHLT continue to distinguish itself from other societies? How can ISHLT best ensure long term sustainability with limited resources? These are just a few of the questions ISHLT is facing as it embarks on developing a strategic plan.

We look forward to the continued engagement of our members as we explore these challenges and opportunities. Thank you again for all of your input. We will keep you updated through the LINKS on the progress of this important process. ■

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