Dec '09/Jan '10

Reimagining CIM

A community for leading industry expertise

By R. Bergen

The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) was created to represent, shape, lead and connect Canada’s mining industry. Over more than a century, CIM has facilitated and driven the development and exchange of ideas and technological advances. While booms and busts have come and gone and the world around it has changed rapidly, CIM has remained stable and secure and has continued to thrive. This has been possible because CIM has had the vision and the courage to subject itself to critical examination through strategic review exercises that have helped the organization identify opportunities, head off threats and cope with change.

Today, the change around CIM is fundamental and far-reaching. To take its rightful place in the international arena and to ensure its continued relevance in a changed world, CIM had to examine its objectives and strategies — and indeed its very character — more intensely than ever before.

“Seeing global trends and what some of the world’s leading high-performance societies looked like and did, it was clear that we needed to leave the traditional strategic planning model behind,” explains Jean Vavrek, CIM’s executive director. “The goal was to get a fresh perspective on ourselves and our place in the future.”

A blueprint for the future

CIM hired Blueprint Business Architecture, a firm that helps organizations identify and express their core principles. “We help figure out a definition of what your organization is in seven words or less,” explains Ian Chamandy, a partner at Blueprint. “With this as a reference, you can examine your various parts and ask, ‘Does this match with our DNA? What do we need to add to make it — and us — whole and complete?’”

As part of the blueprinting process, participants had to ask, “What makes CIM unique?” From the answers to this question came the answer to another important question, “Who are we?” CIM’s leaders arrived at the consensus that we are “a community for leading industry expertise.”

  • We make global expertise readily accessible to our members.
  • Our members enhance their leadership abilities through their involvement in CIM and reinvest that expertise back into the industry.
  • We make the communities in which we operate stronger. This, in turn, makes our members stronger.

By articulating this inspiring proposition and clearly understanding our organization’s core principles, we can re-energize our members and employees with a renewed sense of purpose and direction. CIM is committed to collectively broadening its reach in the years ahead.

“The message had force,” says Vavrek. “They reminded us that we truly have the potential to be much more relevant to many more members in Canada and to the sector globally.”

CIM’s executive committee urged Vavrek on, and a group of CIM’s leaders huddled together to work out how to realize this potential. Together, they pulled CIM apart to rediscover its fundamentals and design a “blueprint” for its future. “Every organization needs to step back periodically and plan for the future, says CIM president Michael Allan. “This was the right time for CIM to do this and gave us all a perspective on who we are and what we do that I don’t think we had appreciated before.”

To Zoltan Lukacs, chair of CIM’s Society for Innovative Mining Technology, his participation in the exercise was an eye-opening experience. “When our reputation for professionalism, expertise and collaboration was pointed out, I realized the impact we could have on lives in mining communities.”

Proven values, enduring impact

Just as Canada’s native resources have international significance, CIM’s core values can — and should — extend beyond our borders. These values include:

  • Over a century of innovation, collaboration, rigour and discipline in extracting natural resources despite challenging and diverse geology, geography and climate.
  • A strong sense of community and fellowship and a willingness to collaborate with others who share our objectives.
  • A strong foundation in a stable and globally respected regulatory environment.
  • A tradition of research and development, innovation and accessible financing.
  • Global leadership in university-level academic support for the industry.
  • An ethical framework that captures and manages safety, environmental and cultural concerns.
  • An appreciation of the necessary balance between generating short-term results and sustaining communities and the integrity of the industry for the longer term.

Through its knowledge-sharing endeavours at conferences, in print and online, CIM strengthens its individual members, making them more knowledgeable and better connected. CIM also creates opportunities to raise profiles, elevate reputations and exercise leadership in the industry.

CIM’s corporate members can, through various CIM forums, benefit from the industry’s finest human resources, develop innovative ideas, exchange information, harness best practices and recruit top-class talent.

Growth: a common goal, a collaborative effort

With CIM’s values sharply defined, our growth will rely on the coming together of several inter-connected factors.

Consensus: Propelling CIM onto the global stage as a vital and assertive industry advocate will require consensus on our course for the future. Every branch, society, tier, leader, employee and member of CIM — whether they hail from industry, academia or government — can be an ambassador for the organization’s principles and objectives. Once such a broad consensus is secured, management must find the resources needed to execute the strategy.

Engagement: We must fully engage our societies and branches in the task of achieving growth. CIM’s relevance to its 12 societies and over 30 branches must be enhanced. In turn, the many arms of CIM can raise the profile and impact of the CIM brand. To achieve this, the vision for and the roles of these groups must be made clear. Realistic responsibilities must be assigned to every one of them.

Information: The collection and exchange of information must be expanded. The national challenge, to which CIM was a response, now exists on a global scale. Silos of expertise and experience exist on every continent. CIM must connect them and make them accessible internationally, just as it has done on the national scale. To begin, we must scrutinize our conventions, conferences and publications to appraise how well they capture both our fundamental values and the realities of the global industry. The information gathering and sharing infrastructure — especially the Internet and social media — needs to be improved, expanded and more thoroughly utilized.

Funding: New and increased streams of funding are essential. Visible progress in consensus-building, engagement and information-sharing should catalyze increased revenue generation. Potential members must be made aware, through the tools and networks they use, that CIM membership is relevant, valuable and easy to obtain. CIM must be more innovative in recruiting members. To better reflect the global industry, we must create new connections with the public, other like-minded organizations, academics and indigenous peoples worldwide.

Unification: Across CIM — at each branch, in each society, throughout the administration — we must speak coherently in a single compelling voice, especially when we represent the organization to the world. Shaped by the shared vision that guides the entire organization, our communications must be clear and impressive.

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