What We Learned, What We'll Do
Here, in no particular order, are a few of the things we learned as a team at ASAE & The Centerâ€™s 2008 Annual Meeting and how we are going to apply them at The American Ceramic Society:
â€¢ We learned that while social media has enormous potential for changing the way associations build community and facilitate learning, the trick is managing implementation within the particular cultural context of your organization. We are exploring new ways to use blogs, collaborative learning tools, forums, videocasts and podcasts, and other media within the context of a community that is not as particularly accustomed to these tools.
â€¢ We learned that our newest members are probably the best people to tell us how to make for joining our Society. We are exploring ways to systematically ask new members why they joined and what they expect from their membership.
â€¢ We learned that, as Patti Digh said, you must â€œchange the structure of the landâ€ within your organization to create an environment that facilitates diversity. At ACerS, our first steps will be convening groups of women engineers, young professionals, and international members to ask what the new landscape should look like and what we need to do to get there.
â€¢ We learned that structures used to promote hierarchy, maintain order, and retain control are things of the past. Collaborative technologies are changing the way knowledge is created and connections are made, allowing people to bypass control-based structures. This is a difficult but necessary lesson to apply within an academic and scientific organization where rewards are based on a much more proprietary view of knowledge (patents, copyrights, the first to publish, the first to present).
â€¢ On the marketing front, we learned that contacting the same audience 5-plus times can increase response by up to 82 percent. We also heard that â€œbrochures donâ€™t sell.â€ As a result, Megan and her team just revised our corporate membership marketing plan to include more â€œtouchesâ€ and take out the costly brochures.
â€¢ We learned (or perhaps, relearned) that a good way to achieve out of the box results is to gather feedback and ideas from those already outside your box. Laura is putting together a plan to use ACerS network of vendors, member companies, and others to come up with solutions to some specific challenges we face.
â€¢ We learned that coaching people and managing people are different skill sets. Coaching is about BEING (vs. doing) â€¦ BEING more curious; BEING more understanding; BEING more encouraging; BEING more empowering. It is about focusing on the WHO rather than the what. Both are necessary to get the most out of your people.
All of this, of course, just scratches the surface, but it is a start. Perhaps most of all, we learned that learning together is important and that being forced to write about it like this has helped to clarify our thinking. It has been a pleasure sharing it with you.
- Laura, Liz, Megan, Peter, & Scott
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