Adaptation Chairman Develops New Approach to Revitalising the Professions

White paper shows how professional bodies can remain relevant, current and vital.

Peterborough, United Kingdom, December 11, 2009 --( Professional bodies and the professions face a variety of pressures at a time when resources are stretched. A new white paper “Revitalising Professional Institutes and Associations” suggests a realistic and affordable way ahead that could benefit both the professions and the many members of the public they serve.

The white paper’s author and Adaptation chairman Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas points out that: “The various professions impact upon just about all of us at many points in our lives. We use or benefit from their services on a daily basis. Starting from scratch and re-inventing a new form of professional organisation could be a mammoth and risky enterprise.”

The Professor has drawn upon his research to assess current ways of operating and find a more effective way of undertaking the traditional activities of professional bodies and supporting professionals in the field. The new model of operation he advocates could simultaneously address multiple challenges and improve performance and standards in a number of areas. The model is based upon an established framework and the successful experience of early adopters in the corporate sector.

The integrated and comprehensive approach uses a new way of managing the knowledge base of a profession, and associated tools to support the training, assessment and qualification; continuing professional education and development; communications; member updating; practice support; compliance and standards; and other activities of a professional body.

Coulson-Thomas has investigated practical ways of capturing and sharing what top professionals do differently. He has found: “A new generation of support tools can provide practicing professionals with easy access to the information and knowledge they require and day to day support to help them to adopt the approaches of high performers when confronted with difficult tasks.”

Support tools can be used to capture and share best practice and built-in checks can ensure compliance with relevant standards. They can also be designed to raise professional standards by ensuring that users learn with each application, while on-line up-dating ensures they are kept current with regulatory and other developments.

The new approach could both embrace and offer a more accessible and cost-effective channel for the delivery of many of the core activities of a professional body. Experience suggests that once set up a profession’s knowledge repository and support tools could be easily updated and managed by a relatively small team.

Coulson-Thomas’ investigations have found: “Implementation is manageable, affordable and achievable within an acceptable timescale. Benefits include greater understanding, improved performance, reduced costs, quicker responses, less stress, higher standards and enforced and evidenced compliance.”

The Adaptation chairman believes: “Professional knowledge frameworks and support tools do more than enable existing activities to be undertaken more quickly and effectively at lower cost and offering a noticeably enhanced service to members. They also provide a new rationale for the professions and a new purpose for professional bodies.”

Coulson-Thomas is convinced that: “Professional bodies can be revitalised to such an extent that the heyday of many of these institutions that originated in the Victorian age may be yet to come. They can be instrumental in creating a better future for their members and the wider public.”

The new white paper “Revitalising Professional Institutes and Associations” can be obtained from Examples of how support tools can be used to help average professionals to adopt the superior approaches of high performers can be found in ‘Winning Companies; Winning People’ by Colin Coulson-Thomas, which is published by Policy Publications and available from

Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas is chairman of adaptation and an active international adviser and consultant. A fellow of seven chartered bodies he has served as Chairman and President of professional and representative bodies. His PhD was a comparative study of professional bodies and he was the founder director of the Centre for the Study of the Professions.

Colin is the author of over 40 books and reports, including ‘The New Professionals’, and has helped over 100 organisations to improve director, board and corporate performance and spoken at over 200 national and international events in some 40 countries. He can be contacted via and his recent publications can be obtained from

Adaptation Ltd
Colin Coulson-Thomas