We’re Not Sure Where We’re Headed and We Don’t Know Who is Drivin’ But Hop on Board Anyway.

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER’s new mantra is- as ID regulation goes so goes the ID profession.  Unless of course you feel that HGTV is the real public face of “interior design”…..THEN YOU CLICKED ON THE WRONG BLOG. This post is another in a continuing series of pondering and analysis of our professional identity issues.

I have yet to see a clear and succinct goal statement that justifies the copious amount of time and effort as well as intellectual and financial capital that we are investing in the pursuit of government regulation of our profession. What is the ROI with this marketing plan?  Who decided licensure is to be our prime PR effort and who exactly are the stakeholders?  Why after 35+ years of effort are there only 3 states that regulate the practice of ID (which now apparently is being used against us in Florida )?

I have seen every justification for the effort from “it sorts out the qualified from the not” to “because we protect the health safety and welfare of the public” to “it protects our right to practice”– all worthy but with slightly differing paths and end results.  Even ASID & IIDA, our supposed professional representatives, have differing policy statements in favor of ID regulation (another story). Ask any two ID professionals and you will most likely get two opinions or validation if that. Given the impact of the regulatory effort on our collective value to society don’t ya think we should all be on the same page?  Unfortunately, lacking a viable alternative, ID regulation has become our de facto public relations campaign. Please know that I am willing, and actually hope, to be proven wrong. Anybody care to disagree?

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER makes every effort to analyze this professional validation effort from a neutral and high enough perch to allow a broad perspective of the legislative battlefield, or chessboard (choose your analogy).  Granted I am not privy to the intimate strategies (if there are any) of the various regulatory proponents (ASID/IIDA/IDC/IDEC/CIDA/NCIDQ et. al) but as far as I know I am the only one looking at this with a critical eye- for what it is worth.

Here are just few issues that I can see from my perch;

1.  Are we prepared to cede control of our professional domain to the State?

In order for the state to “regulate” either the title or the practice of ID the state must make sure that all registrants and licensees commit to a regimen of continued education and professional enhancement.  Makes sense but isn’t this why we have professional organizations?  Uncle Sam also requires that its regulatees to be of strong and/or clean moral character (actual wording varies from state to state). I guess this is the government’s way of making sure we are ethical. Each state ID/Professional Regulation panel is charged with this somewhat subjective and contentious assessment. One can only imagine how 50 different regulatory bodies might approach policing this issue I am a liberal and this thought frightens me.  Again isn’t ethical business practice a tenet of our professional organization?  I don’t know, maybe it’s me, but it seems that in our zeal to enlist the protection of Uncle Sam- ASID and IIDA just may paint themselves irrelevant. 

Political dogma aside (mom told me never to discuss politics and religion with strangers) are we also willing to cast our professional fate to the vagarious whims of the ruling party? Florida could very well deregulate its ID practice act in one fell swoop of the governors pen (see my previous post).  That would mean that 25+/- years of effort will be wasted. Sorry I cannot rationalize that- can you?

2. Who exactly is in charge?

The ID regulation effort is motivated, and generally manipulated, by ASID, although I am sure they would deny it publicly. Of course the actual groundwork is done by individual state “coalitions” which do in fact include non-ASID and independent professionals. So the effort, by design, is disparate and lacks a clear central command.  Consequently it lacks cohesion and consistency.  All one has to do is read the wide variety of existing and proposed legislation to realize that the left hand is unaware what the right foot is doing. Unfortunately PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER must rely on the anti-regulation proponents to glean any up to the minute, albeit biased, news on ID regulation throughout the US. Much as this pains me I have truly learned more about ID regulation from the con’s that I could ever glean from the pro’s. I try mightily to keep it all in perspective and remain unbiased. It is however helpful to have both sides of the story.

If the ID profession powers that be want to appear to be neutral on this effort it is too late, the cartel (real and imagined) has been exposed. But what if the collective profession (not just ASID) did endeavor to create an independent regulatory advocacy entity whose sole purpose was to monitor and facilitate federal and state regulatory efforts? This organization could efficiently disseminate up to the date information, uniform legislative strategies and status reports so that all ID’ers could be on the same page. Imagine the benefit of lessons learned, consistent strategies and reduced redundancies. Some call me a dreamer.

 3. There is a powerful coalition against us- Where is the coalition that supports us?

Anybody who has looked into the anti-ID regulation effort realizes that it includes numerous influential and well-financed organizations. From the AIA to the NKBA and the Institute for Justice those who oppose ID regulation represent a formidable legal and political force. PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER is not naive enough to believe that the path to practice licensure is paved with roses and lined with silk swags. But the fact that some of our primary professional allies have joined forces to oppose our regulatory efforts strikes me as….let’s just say it is not very constructive. This isn’t just about a few angry disenfranchised interior decorators who feel threatened. It is far more. Some say it is a turf war. Well duh! Then is that not our real goal here? Let’s stop assuming that licensure will put the disenfranchised interior decorators in their place- that is not the goal.

I digress back to my point.  I see no coalition of allied organizations that are willing to support our regulatory efforts. And I am not talking about ASID or IIDA or CID…that is the choir preaching to the pastor.  Has anybody approached the International Facilities Managers Association (IFMA) or The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) to see if they might be willing to support and endorse our cause? How about the USGBC? Just three of many allied professions that one (OK me) would think might have a vested interest in our effort to validate our value to society. How about our trade publications?  Seems that, although their circulation is predominately trade oriented, they could offer a platform of supportive press coverage.  Or at least a few well-timed editorials. It will be interesting to see who offers support in our effort to fight deregulation in Florida….How about it Florida AIA?

Again strength in numbers- unless of course they all decline to endorse the effort. Then we know we are really headed in the wrong direction.

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