Category Archives: STC

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Continued Thoughts on an Agile STC

Category:Infosec Communicator,Leadchange,STC,STC Rochester Tags : 

I’ve been contributing to an ongoing conversation about the Society for Technical Communication on Larry Kunz’s excellent Leading Technical Communication blog (https://larrykunz.wordpress.com) where he’s recently posted An Agile STC? As I’ve taken part in the conversation, I’ve realized that this is a subject I should be writing about as well. I’ll start by sharing some of the discussion here. (Note that I’m actively involved in STC and a former Director.)

Background

The Society for Technical Communication (STC) was established in the late 1950s and currently has about 6000 members worldwide. Like other professional organizations, it has seen decreases in membership as the baby boomers age and the technical communication profession has become increasingly specialized. The Society has somewhat autonomous self-governed geographic chapters around the world that range in membership from around 10 members up to 150 or so. Geographic chapter membership is not mandatory, and about 50% of STC members are members in local chapters. I’m a member of the STC Rochester Chapter, which has been recognized as Community of the Year twice in the last four years.

Discussion of Agile Methodology

Larry referenced a recent post by Australian technical writer, Swapnil Ogale, The ASTC is failing us in which Sawpnill discusses the need for new structures and focus on gaining new members. Building on Sawpnil’s discussion, Larry wrote about the application of Agile principles by STC communities and the need to, as I would describe it, discard old wineskins and use new wineskins that may be more appropriate to our culture. (The wineskins terminology comes from a Bible passage, Mark 2:22, “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (NIV translation). I believe that terminology is apropos for structural discussions concerning chapters as well.

In reference to Larry’s assertion that Agile principles are needed at the chapter level, smaller focused activities might provide a viable path forward for many communities, especially given the challenge in recruiting volunteers for long term roles. (There’s a free CAC webinar on recruiting volunteers on July 22nd, 2016. Alice Brzovic and I are speaking. The webinar will be recorded. Register on Eventbrite (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/recruiting-new-volunteers-tickets-26552383895)

Rochester Chapter

When I look at the Rochester Chapter’s ability to continue to provide service to our community, sprints play a key role. Along with ongoing programming, there are a large number of shorter sprints associated with our annual Spectrum conference. These sprints provide a relatively short high-impact volunteer engagement period that I believe has really helped hold the chapter together (along with some outstanding leadership.)

Next week we are engaging our Buffalo-area members and their colleagues in a networking dinner–our first engagement with them in well over a decade. This wasn’t part of our planned programming, but connections were made, an idea floated through LinkedIn messaging, and several people have put an event together very quickly.

Innovation

Given STC’s changing demographics, it’s important that we examine new models and embrace those that are effective. STC’s Community Affairs Committee is well positioned to play a mentoring role here.

We absolutely have to innovate and attract members who become active volunteers. STC at the society level and chapters are structured very differently. There’s ample opportunity for innovation at the chapter level. Some structural changes at the higher level may be beneficial.

Alienating long term members who are used to that structure is somewhat of a concern. However, the baby boomers who built professional organizations are retiring in droves, and the structure and programming has to work for succeeding generations. Although I don’t agree with all of her points, Sladek, The End of Membership as We Know It, has good discussions around the need for organizations to transform. Post-baby boomers generations are looking for meaningful engagement for shorter periods and not necessarily a lifelong commitment.

I’ll continue this discussion in an upcoming blog post.

 

 

 


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community

Building a Virtual Introverted Leader Community

Category:EDUCAUSE,Introverted Leadership,introverts,Leadership,STC,Summit Tags : 

Building a Virtual Introverted Leader Community

Anyone who is at all connected to me on social media has seen my Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter posts about the Introverted Leadership Slack Channel I’ve set up. I wanted to share what’s happened so far and my my vision for this nascent virtual community.

Background

At the Society for Technical Communication Summit 2016, I presented An Introvert’s Journey to Leadership. The presentation is a brief discourse on my leadership journey and my thoughts on introverted leadership strategies based on my readings of Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking, Lisa Petrilli, An Introvert’s Guide to Leadership, David Keirsey, Please Understand Me II, many discussions with fellow leaders, and my own experience and observations at conferences and events.

My experience in in presenting An Introvert’s Journey to Leadership was profound and I was able to connect with attendees to a much deeper extent than I have experienced at other conferences. Keirsey talks about the ability for N’s to make instant connections. I saw that firsthand at Summit 2016. (I’m typically pretty reticent at home. Being able to make deep connections is not typical for me. I’m an INTJ and dread small talk.) (For those of you unfamiliar with Myers-Briggs and Jungian temperament studies, humanmetrics.com and 16personalities.com provide an overview.) Given the positive response at Summit 2016, I really wanted to extend the experience and find a way for introverted leaders to support one another.

Planning and Action

As an INTJ, I often spend a good amount of time in analysis and planning. I didn’t feel that I had that luxury. Conference connections can be ephemeral and excitement abates. I needed to act quickly. Three weeks ago, I knew next to nothing about Slack. On May 20th, I put up a Slack channel and recruited one my new “instant N” connections, Carrie Sheaffer (who had some familiarity with Slack), to help me administer it.

We are a little over two weeks into the creation of a virtual community. We’re at 81 participants overall. We’re discussing Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking at a leisurely pace of a chapter a week. (We’re currently at 22 team members in that discussion.) We’ll choose another book relevant to introverted leadership after Cain.

Multiple Focuses

Although my primary focus was providing a forum for introverted leaders to support each other, I also saw an opportunity to create a study group for the Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) exam. We’re currently at 25 students preparing for the exam and most of us will take it in October/November.

Building the Virtual Community

I’ve built the community by reaching out to the two professional organizations in which I’m involved, the Society for Technical Communication, and the EDUCAUSE Higher Education Information Security Council Awareness and Training Working Group. (As you might imagine, there are a good number of introverts in both organizations.) I’ve also increased my LinkedIn contacts by about 200 connections to build my network and have shared An Introvert’s Journey to Leadership with that network. I don’t believe I’ve met more than 60% of the current team members face to face.

My Vision

I have developed a passion for mentoring and coaching introverted leaders. I want this virtual community to provide a place for introverted leaders to talk safely about personality, the challenges their facing, and to encourage each other. (I realized a couple of days into building the Introverted Leadership Slack channel that I needed to provide group rules that I’ll share in a future post. The rules can be boiled down to a statement Garrison Keillor made during his Radio Romance tour that he was determined to lead a life of obstinate kindness.)

I will measure success based on how much we can accomplish goals derived from “I have seen firsthand how difficult it is for introverts to take stock of their own talents, and how powerful it is when they finally do.” –Susan Cain, Quiet, p. 7,

Will we build an enduring community? The jury is still out, but I’m excited about our first baby steps. We have discussions around introverted management, personality types, the CPTC, techcomm, and even a channel set up to facilitate playing Exploding Kittens.

I’ll provide occasional updates on our progress over the coming months, and I’ll also share how well our CPTC study group does on the exam.

It’s not too late to join us! If you’re interested, get in touch. I’m not hard to find.

Ben
@benwoelk
https://www.linkedin.com/in/benwoelk


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Keeping the Magic of Summit Alive

Category:Introverted Leadership,introverts,Leadership,STC,Summit Tags : 

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Keeping the Magic of Summit Alive

STC Summit Anaheim was my ninth Summit! For the last several years, I’ve almost always returned from Summit energized, excited to have made new connections, sad about saying goodbye to friends that I see only once a year, and full of new ideas that I want to try.

Invariably, the magic fades

The tedium/rhythm of everyday life returns, and the excitement is over. Summer is traditionally a slow period for many chapters as well, so there’s not always an opportunity to put Leadership Day recommendations in place while they’re fresh.

This year, I decided that I did not want to lose the magic so quickly.

Here’s what I’m doing to keep the magic alive

I presented An Introvert’s Journey to Leadership at this year’s conference. The presentation was about my journey to leadership and included strategies and resources for introverted leaders. Like many of the sessions, it was standing room only. I had numerous conversations with attendees, realized the impact of the presentation, and decided I wanted to continue the discussion.

  1. I’m in the process of connecting on LinkedIn and other social media with my session attendees (Names gleaned from SCHED, the social networking tool STC provided for Summit attendees.) I’m also inviting them to #2 below.
  2. I have created a Slack channel to discuss introverted leadership, personality types, and the books I recommended as resources. (The channel is open to anyone interested. Contact me and I’ll invite you.)
  3. Using that Slack channel, I’m forming a study group for the Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) exam, STC’s revamped certification program. (Initially, I was unsure what to think of certification. However, we’re living in an age when industry-specific certifications are becoming ubiquitous.) I received my Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSP) designation last year, so why not add a CPTC? I’ve also been talking to security professionals about techcomm basics, so it makes sense for me to have the certification I’m recommending.
  4. I’m doing selected follow-up conversations with connections, aka peeps, made at Summit. Individual followup provides an opportunity to strengthen these new connections and to determine how I, as a seasoned leader, can best support them. (I have a passion for mentoring and coaching new leaders.)
  5. The Rochester Chapter is holding an end of year celebration of our Community Achievement Award recognition as Community of the Year, Platinum Community, and Pacesetter Community. We’re going to share our best takeaways from Summit.

 

It’s less than one week after Summit. I’m writing this now because I need to get my thoughts together before they fade.

What are you doing to keep the magic alive?

Here’s another blog post from STC Director, Alisa Bonsignore!

After STC Summit

 


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