This month’s contributor: Kathleen Borsos-Wooley

ISPI San Diego has been serving the performance improvement and learning community since 1979. Thirty years later, in an effort to increase member engagement and perform a public service, we tried something new. We involved local members in the application of the complete ADDIE process as we created a blended learning solution for a local non-profit organization. While our intentions were well placed, member engagement was significantly impacted as a result of focusing all chapter resources on this one community service project. The impact that year was a loss of community presence and ultimately members.

ISPI SD has a history of innovation. It took courage for the leadership to attempt this approach. It also took courage to apply lessons learned. We are now humbled and freshly focused on listening to our members, which has put us on a path of consistency our members can count on. This is the story of our path to revitalization over the past year.

How We Did It

Shared Vision
2010 was a rocky year at best. Our president was accepted into a doctoral program and resigned mid-year leaving behind a skeleton Board. Anne Knowles (President in 2009) and Kathleen Borsos-Wooley (VP of Marketing for 2007-2010) leveraged their chapter knowledge to get us through.

In late 2010, Kathleen reached out to San Diego’s founder Dr. Allison Rossett and past leaders to gain their support. The President-elect, Phillip Tanzilo, joined and contributed his experience as a National Advisor and Past President of ASTD San Diego to help prioritize our opportunities and emphasize our strengths. Phillip’s experience helping struggling chapters provided a thread of reliable support and direction.

We developed a strategic plan that prioritized and focused our efforts. Our plan identified key areas to maintain a balanced focus and support of our mission. These areas included:

  • Professional Development: Advancing the principles and practices of HPT.
  • Programs: Promoting and disseminating findings on HPT topics through regular chapter programs and services.
  • Community Outreach: Providing support and resource assistance to people interested in HPT.
  • Sustainability: Aligning with national chapter of excellence criteria, governance guidelines, and responsibly investing in our membership.

Established Commitments
We voted to amend our Bylaws and extend terms for Board Members to two years (to develop chapter bench strength). This contributed to continuity and continued focus on creating a consistent momentum with our respective roles. We also committed to providing monthly chapter meetings at a more centralized location that represents the professionalism of our chapter.

Built Community

  • Programs: Our initial support from the San Diego State University EDTEC faculty, enabled us to quickly bring in quality guest presenters with a national presence, such as Ruth Clark, Marc Rosenberg, and Roger Addison. Our interim VP of Programs, Jeanne Strayer, quickly developed a 15 month calendar of programs that included local and national talent who are involved in innovative learning solutions that spotlight areas of the HPT Model.
  • Professional Organizations: We reached out to other sister ISPI chapters in southern California including Orange County, Los Angeles; and local organizations like OD Net, ASTD and SHRM. We conducted our first annual Career Panel in May, inviting high-profile members from these organizations as panelists. This program received rave reviews and got the word out into the community that we are back and providing solid programs! Today, we are developing a job board with Jobing.com, a local career placement company.
  • Member Engagement: Our VP of Membership, Mike Andrews, with support from the Board and Kathleen’s and Phillip’s guidance, developed a New Member Orientation and Chapter Brochure. When a new member joins, they receive a warm welcome from Mike, along with a link to the presentation on our website. We wanted to provide a positive first impression and quickly make our new members feel welcome by providing an understanding of the chapter, benefits, and how they can get involved.
  • Leadership Legacy: We would be remiss if we did not in some way recognize the legacy of leadership our past leaders contributed. The Board voted to offer Past Presidents an Honorary Lifetime membership. This is our way to acknowledge their past contributions and invite them to return.

Technology

  • Website: Our VP of Technology, Shannon Kegey, improved our website presence and functionality by converting our site to a much more flexible tool, Wild Apricot. This enhanced our brand and made it easier for members to learn about our programs and to join. Shannon and Kathleen quickly built out our site, adding information, chapter resources, and links to our partners. Today, we can easily track our membership and communicate with our members.
  • Social Media: We now utilize social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter) to announce our programs. We plan to initiate a forum on LinkedIn to continue conversations about recent presentations and other important topics to keep the conversation going between chapter events and help members establish solid online connections.
  • Video: Our board voted to purchase a video camera and video record our chapter programs. We now place each month’s video presentation, handouts, and resources on our “members only” web page, to provide membership enrollment incentive.

Assessment
Keeping our finger on the pulse of our members is critical. We learned the hard way. Today, we poll our members at all of our programs. We collect Level One evaluations at each of our chapter events to gain valuable feedback on how we are doing and suggestions on topics of interest to our participants.

Results

Current Status
We are surpassing some of our strategic goals and community support continues to gain momentum. 2011 started with 10 members, with one holding a national ISPI membership. We now have 57 members, with 3 holding national memberships.

Lessons Learned
We leverage the strengths of each Board member. There were so many ideas we wanted to implement. We learned quickly to focus on one or two tasks at a time to avoid “death by a thousand initiatives.” This ensured high quality results for each project/product we embarked upon.

Building alliances has been a key to re-establishing our presence in the community. Lacking a VP of Marketing, and having to rely on efforts from the rest of the Board, we have been making slow and steady progress and plan to continue our outreach.

Having monthly Board meetings on a recurring date each month has kept us focused on our priorities and accountable on our deliverables. Having reliable minutes, taken by our VP of Communications (Chris Young) has helped keep us on track, just as establishing a budget and managing our finances has kept us fiscally responsible (Sean Woodard, Treasurer). The dedication of everyone on our Board has made the difference.

We are now “back on track” and making a difference, especially important in these uncertain times. Our members are very important to us. Together, we are having an impact on our community and believe we are leaving a legacy to further our profession.

Thanks and Gratitude
We recognize and appreciate the support we have received from ISPI National, the SDSU EDTEC department, ASTD, SHRM, National University, Jobing.com, and members of our local community who have helped us to become a strong chapter again. As such, we are able to continue to serve our community of learning professionals. We hope other chapters will find inspiration and ideas from our recent experiences. Please visit our website to view our calendar of events.

If you would like to share something that your chapter has successfully implemented, contact chapters@ispi.org to contribute.

About the Author
Kathleen Borsos-Wooley is the 2011 President of the San Diego Chapter. If you would like to know more about the SD chapter efforts, or have any questions, please contact her at kathleenbw@gmail.com.