The hard part of this column is to convey to you everything that I think is important
to you as members, with all the color commentary that makes it come to life. I
use “color commentary” because in my mind, sports is an easy, handy
metaphor to explain things that are often strategic in nature, and the Board of
Directors meeting is just that.
• Thanks to Tom Barnett of the Phoenix and UK chapters, the Region 5
web site is live and functioning at /http://www.stcregion.org/region5/.
You’ll find this column and a ton more information at this site. It’s
got a new, current look, and if you want to link your newsletters and other
info to it, let Tom know at the Region 5 webmaster link on the home page. Thank
you, Tom! Well done!
• Thanks to volunteers Ann Wiley and her whole team, and Merrick Bechini,
Director of IT, we put the STC Member Forum live. It is at http://stcforum.org/index.php.
You must register as an STC member. It takes only a second or two, and inside
you’ll see all kinds of STC interests, including STC Governance discussion
areas. Don’t miss this chance to participate.
• Thanks to Rob Moran and the office staff, for the first time ever, we
conducted a member survey before the board meeting. More than 1,000 members
submitted what they thought STC should be doing for them in areas we knew we’d
be talking about at the meeting. There were a lot of diverse opinions! This
information gave us a lot of clear guidance, and we will continue to conduct
this survey before board meetings. The surveys will get better and more specific
as time goes on. Please don’t hesitate to take part in them.
• I received the chapter reports and compiled them into successes and
concerns columns. In particular, I presented as information to the board the
viewpoint of some of you that we aren’t getting enough of the right information
to you fast enough. This view was helpful to shape some of our priorities. In
some cases, we can’t provide more information, because the committees
involved aren’t ready to present their plans for approval by the BoD.
This means that some awkward situations affecting community planning still exist,
despite the best efforts of everyone involved. It is an unfortunate effect of
trying to shape a better Society, and we regretfully realize the uncertainty
this produces. Please contact me if you have any questions at all. I will be
happy to assist you.
• We included STC Society office management staff members Peg Cottrell,
director of administration; Merrick Bechini, director of IT; and Maurice Martin,
director of publications in our meetings. In my opinion, this has proven to
be one of the single most beneficial moves we have made. We are experiencing
a whole new level of effectiveness by having the staff involved while we make
our decisions. They can participate by letting us know what is feasible immediately.
We are no longer simply lofting demands over the wall at them with no background
or context. It is a most remarkable and welcome change.
• We performed a strategic planning exercise that culminated into four
priorities for functioning over a 16-month period:
1. Telling our Powerful Story. We have more than 17,000
members within a hugely diverse profession. We have the resources to impress
corporations about what we do and how we do it. We have focused as a board
to implement changes to make this happen. As you read through, I believe you’ll
see how all the things we are doing are interrelated.
2. Building Relationships and Choosing Partners. We have
significant opportunities to work with other associations and with employer
companies to provide additional benefits and opportunities to our members.
Some of these relationships and partnerships are already under development.
In all cases, as we go carefully into this area, we are using the following
a. How is this relationship good for the members?
b. What are the downsides, if any? Can we contain the risks, if any?
c. Is the business case overall compelling enough to undertake this relationship?
3. Generating Funds to Support Delivery of Member Value.
As we become a more vital organization and deliver the value requested in
your surveys and conversations, it is clear that we need, as a Society, to
learn how to generate funds in other ways besides through dues. Currently,
member dues do not fund everything STC offers to members. Although we are
eliminating those things that do not deliver member value in our current budget,
these efforts alone will not sustain the demands of our members. During the
January meeting, we mapped out the priorities for achieving this goal over
the next 12 months.
4. Building a Business Model. This title is a little misleading.
STC has always had a business model. Importantly, however, the business model
has not supported the membership as it exists today. We put together plans
for bringing a new, more viable model online and aligning it with the old
one. We will potentially adjust the budget to include line items that we haven’t
had before, but we will hold that budget to more rigid standards during BoD
meetings. For instance, in order to “Tell Our Powerful Story,”
we unanimously approved having a special “expert columnist” for
the STC.org web site. Our hope is to get a columnist that already has national
and corporate readership on a “high fame” level, because it is
part of our strategy to elevate STC’s corporate and national image.
It is a new line item for budget approval. Our new business model will have
enough flexibility to accommodate special projects, but we will refrain from
too many “exceptional expenditures.” We will view all expenditures
in terms of whether they meet the majority of STC members’ goals.
• The Leadership Community Resource (LCR) is much closer to providing
support to all communities. In fact, they are about 12 months ahead of schedule
in some areas:
1. Some communities feel they’ve been “on the bubble” for
years and have desperately needed some mentoring and advice. The Triage for
Communities in Crisis will be ready to assist communities by May 2006.
2. By fall 2006, the Mentoring Students Community will be available to assist
student communities that feel the need of the active support of mentors.
3. New presidents or managers of communities have a whole host of questions,
including community guidelines. The Mentoring Leaders and Communities Committee
will be ready by May 2006.
• The work of the board continued:
1. We approved the awards for Fellow, Associate Fellow, and Distinguished
Chapter Service Awards.
2. We approved the recharter of 7 communities.
3. We reviewed the projected budget as it compares to the actual budget. Our
treasurer made his report. Our budget is in good shape. The finance oversight
committee made a report and found everything to be in perfect order. Our auditors
submitted a report and found everything to be in perfect order.
4. We have begun and will continue a technology upgrade that will assist the
BoD, office staff, and community leaders in meeting and exceeding member needs.
Our technology hasn’t given our volunteers or staff the tools they need
to implement well. We are pushing to change that.
5. We are implementing a communications plan that helps us to be more effective.
Our goal is to make communications succinct, accurate, and timely. Our focus
is to continue to get more information from you, respond to it, and get the
results back out to you effectively. It is one of the toughest challenges
we face. It’s a lot harder than it seems.
6. We are working on new models for getting corporations involved. Two other
companies are interested in taking part in a program that involves them at
the corporate level and adds new members to our ranks that would not otherwise
be able to join. Here are the criteria for these programs:
a. Is this fair to new and existing members?
b. Does this provide new members that grow to be loyal members for the future?
c. Does this provide opportunities for all involved?
d. Does this make business sense for the Society and the members?
7. In her board report, Paula Berger announced that the first 2006 BoD meeting
will be held in London, England, to coincide with the R2 conference. The BoD
has met in Europe only once before, in September 1998 in Paris. Paula reported
that she considered the following items in making her decision:
a. Airfare from U.S. cities to Europe is generally less than airfare within
the continental U.S., thus our actual travel costs will be lower.
b. Assistants to the president will not attend this meeting unless they
have a specific business case to present and defend.
c. This meeting is an important opportunity to meet a greater number of
members at one time. Further, it is part of STC’s continued strategy
of global image and impact.
As usual with BoD meetings, the days of the January 2006 meeting were jam-packed.
We discussed many topics and made decisions or asked for business plans. Secretary
Lori Fisher will be posting the minutes as soon as she can. Be sure to read
them to get details without “color commentary!”
Here are some excerpts from John Hedtke’s perspective on this meeting
from his letter to Region 7: “The way I think about [all the changes]
. . . STC was like a room that had filled up with ratty furniture, dusty boxes
of old books, and a threadbare rug. The [Society leadership] has gone in and
cleaned out all the old stuff and mopped and vacuumed. The place looks clean
right now . . . but it’s a little empty. What we put into the room is
something that’s still being discussed, but we’ve gotten the old
stuff out and cleaned up the mess.”
I do not believe we are finished with the house cleaning. Housekeeping is a
nearly daily chore. I would say, however, that we’ve done a fair amount
of work, and we are still thwacking away at it.
All this effort has been very effective and is very exciting. I wonder if previous
BoDs have had this much fun and excitement in the past. I see “old-timers”
on the board who share in our amazement and sense of adventure as we grapple
the old mantras that no longer work and throw them out, replacing them with
the mantra of “Does this provide member value?” It’s so cool!
Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m available at firstname.lastname@example.org
and through the R5 Region site!