RE: The STC and me

Subject: RE: The STC and me
From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 2004 15:21:57 -0400

Congratulations on your accomplishments Robert. However,

bounce-techwr-l-106467 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com wrote on 07/28/2004 09:52:01 AM:
> If you find that local activity in your area is not to your liking
> , then get on the board and set an example!

Nice argument, and it's used often by organisations around the world.
Problem is, the argument is completely specious. For an organisation to
work, it needs leaders and followers. For it to survive it must attract
new members.

Was there room in your chapter for ten job bank coordinators? Didn't think
so. So what choice do those that didn't like your approach have? Yes, the
followers can get involved but they can't simply take the lead and will
have limited influence at the local level and little to none at the
national or international level. Followers aren't necessarily inactive.
But, it requires leaders and structure to motivate and direct the efforts
of the followers. It takes leadership and structure at a higher level to
organise and direct (or more importantly support) the leaders at lower

"Join and set an example" is a perfectly pathetic argument when
considering those that are looking for support and guidance as technical
communicators. For those for whom it could be relevant, well you have to
prove to them that the effort is best expended there and that the
organisation provides the best payback compared to the alternatives.

To be prosperous, an organisation as a whole MUST offer value to members
and provide them with services. Otherwise, the organisation will never
prosper or it may experience spurts as motivated members join but
ultimately suffer a long and slow death as the motivated members are
sucked dry and decide to leave and new members are turned off either by
the dearth of services and activities or the work required to get them

So, to keep members the organisation must provide at least as much value
as it demands in effort from members, to grow it must first offer services
and value to new members that they will not find elsewhere.

I will however argue/agree that a good organisation will require more of
its membership than simple payment of dues to stay as members in good
standing. But the solicitation for further input or involvement has to be
targeted and organised.

> No association is going to be perfect. No association is
> going to meet everyone's needs. Just because one person's
> needs weren't met doesn't mean that the entire organization
> is bad, nor does it mean that everyone else should write it
> off just because one person wasn't satisfied.

But we're not talking about one person. And, we're not talking about a
healthy organisation that can survive indefinitely by continuing to
operate in the same manner. Revenues and membership are declining. If
membership and revenues were stable, your arguments would be valid. In
that light, naysayers could be dismissed and current members could remain
confident that the kool-aid is safe and a brilliant future awaits. ;)

The reality is that at the current pace the STC will cease to exist (zero
or negative net worth) in little over 6 years, or sooner if spending isn't
curtailed and membership continues to fall. Discounting outside naysayers
will only guarantee the demise of the organisation, unless membership can
be held steady (currently it's falling) and costs can be cut (about 10%
across the board to break even).

Eric L. Dunn
Senior Technical Writer


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RE: The STC and me: From: Robert Milkovich

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