One of the challenges in coordinating activities in a volunteer group of professionals is that of empowering professionals properly, so that the energy and work are focused properly and achieve the desired objectives. This becomes increasingly so when discussing several such volunteer groups that are just starting to coordinate objectives and processes. Indeed, it’s probably fair to refer to it as herding cats.
But I am firm believer that the key to addressing a challenge remains in understanding why the challenge exists in the first place. In this case, the challenge exists for two reasons:
1) PSGs are comprised of professionals in transition. Therefore, activity is in some measure inversely correlated to the economy–that is, a strong economy = less PSG activity and vice versa–and therefore, members land jobs, the critical mass of people needed to maintain a group’s activity is potentially threatened.
2) No matter how effective or over how long, most PSGs have had bouts of inactivity, and whatever practices or institutional knowledge was built-up prior was then lost.
So now that the why is understood, how can this be addressed and avoided going forward?
The nature of the group cannot be changed: a group of professionals helping one another find their next jobs is by definition going to be composed of job seekers. But this time, we are making sure that does not happen again by making sure we leave records of our institutional knowledge. We are establishing independent online presences such as web sites, social media and LinkedIn groups. We are coordinating with one another to share, establish and document best practices. And most importantly, we are creating succession plans so those who follow us need not reinvent the wheel.
I have long felt that the best legacy any member of an organization can leave is a method or process that remains in use thereafter.
I feel very good about what ours will be.