Hello community presidents, managers, newsletter editors and webmasters!
Jackie Damrau, STC Management SIG newsletter editor, requested a short
article from me to introduce the transformation. Some folks on the
Communication Committee and I thought this might be useful and interesting
for all the communities' newsletters and Web sites, so I'm passing it
along. Feel free to publish, print, and post this at will. :) It will also
be appearing on the Transformation Web site.
THANKS JACKIE for the request. :)
Transformation Update...or Introduction?
by Andrea Ames, STC President
Are you a chapter or SIG leader? If so, chances are you've heard of the
STC transformation. If not, there's a good chance you haven't heard of the
transformation. The following few paragraphs will provide a very brief
introduction to the transformation work, and the following resources will
provide you with more details, updates, etc.:
* firstname.lastname@example.org -- Get answers to questions or provide suggestions,
comments, etc., and you will get an answer or a response within 2 business
* Transformation News listserv (email@example.com) -- Opt in and
receive updates and news about the transformation, status/progress
updates, notifications of Web site updates, etc. (sign up via the
transformation Web page, below, beginning Thursday, July 15)
* www.stc.org/transformation -- Visit often to see the main repository
of transformation information, and sign up for the Transformation News
listserv (above) for update information
What started all this? And what's it really all about?
Frankly, the economy started all this. In short, STC income -- both
membership dues income and conference income that underwrites the cost of
memberships (you might not realize that your dues don't cover the actual
costs of your membership) -- began to drop a few years ago, and the STC
Board of Directors' efforts to cut costs did not solve our problem. When
we dug into the cause of our drop in income, we found that many former
members, for example, were unwilling to renew, because it meant paying for
memberships that their companies had formerly covered. In short, although
the economy moved the Board to act, what we found was that finances were
merely a symptom of a greater problem -- perceived member value. That's
what the transformation is really about: Providing value that members want
and need to develop professionally.
During our research, we confirmed something we already knew: Our industry
and our members are incredibly diverse, with interests ranging from
usability to editing, with skills and experience ranging from entry-level
to senior, working in industries from financial to scientific, etc. We
asked ourselves, "Can one Society really meet the needs and provide
significant professional-development value in all of these areas and
industries, to this entire range of people?" In answering this question,
we confirmed something else we already knew: Our strength is in our
"communities" -- what we currently call "chapters" and "SIGs." The Society
does not provide direct value to members in any or all of these areas;
instead, the Society provides infrastructure, mentoring, financial and
administrative support, policy, etc., for those communities exist and
flourish, providing member value indirectly through those communities.
Unfortunately, the Society support for and representation of communities
today -- and the members' experience across communities -- is
The bottom line
Members want value, and value means something different to each of us. For
the Society to rebuild -- and increase -- its membership ranks, we need to
provide (among other things):
* Consistent, equitably supported and represented communities from
which members will derive their personalized professional development
value (through the Communities, Finance, and Governance initiatives)
* A flexible membership model (through the Membership initiative),
enabling members to opt in and out of various services and community
memberships to customize their professional development experience
* Rich content -- education (through the Education initiative),
knowledge base, research, intellectual property of all types -- that
provides depth of practice in member-identified practice areas (through
the Communities initiative by supporting practice-based communities) and
is readily accessed (through the Technology initiative)
* Richer opportunities to network, within and beyond geographies
(through the Communities initiative by supporting geographic communities
and brand new kinds of communities)
And we need to communicate information (through the Communication
initiative) about the transformation, its initiatives, the changes and
status of those, as well as solicit feedback from members and leaders
around the Society, to ensure that we all understand our options, make
informed choices and decisions, and implement the appropriate changes
during the transformation process.
What we're doing about it: The transformation
Some of these needs are met through today's community success stories --
of which there are many! In our efforts to improve consistency and
equality of support and experiences across communities, we're not losing
sight of those that are working; instead, we're building on the foundation
of their successes...and planning to go a step further to provide even
more to those communities to enhance their successes. For communities that
are struggling, the support we will provide is designed to help, not
hinder, their progress toward providing as much member value as possible.
The work to meet all of these needs is complex... As we change our
community support model to be more consistent, many changes are
required -- in the financial, governance, and technology (infrastructure)
areas, as well as the expected community policy changes.
We have a high-level roadmap that we're following, outlining what we need
to do at a very high level similar to the bulleted items, above. We don't
have all the answers. We still need your input and your help. Contact us
at firstname.lastname@example.org to contribute to the transformation.
Myths and misinformation abound!
If you have heard of the transformation, you might be concerned about some
misinformation circulating. Here are a few of the most tenacious
myths...debunked. For answers to frequently asked questions and more
corrections to misinformation, sign up for the Transformation News
listserv (via the Transformation Web page, starting Thursday, July 15) to
get notification when we add the FAQs to the Web site!
* STC is not a chapter-based organization; it is a member-based
organization, according to our Bylaws.
* The transformation is not about finances; it's about member value.
Although the economic environment and STC's financial situation in that
environment was a symptom that alerted us to the problem, the real issue
was members' perception of the value of STC membership.
* The transformation is not about marginalizing, de-emphasizing, or
eliminating chapters -- large or small. Chapters are communities, just as
SIGs are. The goal of the transformation is to equally support and
represent all communities -- chapters, SIGs, and new, currently undefined
* We are not taking away any chapters' money. At a Transformation Q&A
session on Leadership Day at the STC conference in May, John Nardone, our
Transformation Consultant, mentioned the well-known fact that STC's
chapters have a greater net worth than the Society, and he suggested that
chapters with large reserves might want to volunteer to donate some of
those reserves to the transformation effort. (Interesting tidbit: Some
chapters have contacted me to volunteer to support the transformation
* The transformation was not instigated by STC's Washington, D.C.-based
organization. STC's decision-making, policy-setting body is the Board of
Directors, your elected representatives, who are volunteers and live and
work around the world. STC's implementation and operations body is the
paid staff at the STC Office, located in northern Virginia. Your elected
Board of Directors voted to engage the transformation consultant (in May
2003) and to adopt the the transformation roadmap (in January 2004) that
the consultant and the initial transformation team proposed. The STC
Office in northern VA does not determine how money is spent; they
implement disbursals based on STC Board decisions.
* The current dues rebates that fund chapters are not part of the
transformed financial model. The new financial model has not yet been
developed. Until it is, the Board of Directors will continue with the
chapter dues rebate process: According to STC Bylaws, each year the Board
analyzes the current financial situation -- including the budget,
membership renewals, conference income, etc. -- and determines an amount
to rebate to chapters.