The Future of Membership in a World Driven by Technology

Membership is about people; people sharing ideas to improve their personal and professional lives, opining on the latest issues, building personal and company brands, and yes, utilizing technology.

My goal here is to listen to the "world" on where membership fits in these fast changing times, and deliver the services needed to get people to "buy" into membership organizations.

Membership is deeper than community. Membership is more personal and takes more effort. It is built on trust.

Stop by often and find out what's happening in the world of Membership... Thank you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

If you don’t vote, please don’t complain! Everyone is welcome to participate in the debate…

Luminary Award Nominations Close Wednesday June 30th!

Thank you to all of you that have been nominating your choice for the STP Luminary Award. As we approach the close of this portion of the award process, I thought I would outline the next steps in what we hope to be a summer of great debate, lobbying, and education about the top 3 people that have been chosen by you.

As I said, nominations close this Wednesday. At the close of business on Wednesday, we will start tallying the results of the nomination process to determine our top three nominees. Those nominees will be input into our online voting survey to be released on July 15th. Although you may not see your nominee on the list, we hope you will take a look at the top three vote getters and get involved in understanding why others have chosen one of these three luminaries.

On July 15th we will also include on the website, under the Luminary Award Crew, a little bit of information about each nominee. Some of that information will come from the comments of the people that nominated them for the award. Some information will come from the research we here at STP will do about the nominees, and then we will open it up to you. We will be opening up the Luminary discussion to all Basic Members (complimentary Membership) to comment and lobby for your choice to receive the award. We will not field the questions of “this is bogus, I don’t see (put nominee name here). He/She should have been on the list.” We can only put forth the people you nominated. If you have not nominated someone you have 2 days left to do so! Once the nomination period is closed it is closed. (Click here to nominate)

The voting will start July 15th and continue through September 2nd. You have plenty of time to vote and if you know who your candidate is “hands down” then vote immediately. But if your candidate is not in the top three, I hope you will take the time to learn why others chose these candidates, and make an informed vote for the one you would like to see win the award. I expect that the supporters of each of these candidates will have an active role in lobbying for their candidate but we will see. This debate could make the “dog days of summer” a little more tolerable and interesting!

I only ask that the debate be respectful of the nominees. I expect we will see plenty of differences in these candidate’s qualifications, and the discussion will revolve around the positive aspect of each of the nominee’s contributions to our industry. This debate should really be a great window into the qualities, values and accomplishments that we believe make for great leaders in our industry.

The final stage of the process will be the actual award presented at the 2010 Software Test Professionals Conference & Expo at the Mirage in Las Vegas. I hope you engage in the debate and the voting so that we have the opportunity to present the winner with a community award we can all agree went through a fair, robust, and open process…

Good Luck to all of our nominees!

Re-cap of Local Interest Chapter Meeting in San Francisco…

The second LIC meeting kicked off in San Francisco on Thursday June 24th and it was a great success! Vladimir Belorusets shared his experience with test automation data (feel free to download if you are a Basic Member) and it offered the group a lot to think about and discuss at the conclusion of his presentation. Dave Willmer, Executive Director of Robert Half Technology shared his insights into some employment trends RHT has been experiencing over the past six months. Beyond the presentation, it was great to see Dave again having worked with him over the past several years so closely. He had a number of his team members attend the meeting and it was nice to get to speak with professionals so closely aligned with the current quality, development and IT testing employment market. They are an impressive group.

Automation continues to challenge the test and quality community in a number of areas. What to automate, what the best tools for automation are, and the relationship between test automation engineers, development, and quality assurance pros continues to dominate the conversation. There are some great practices going on out there and one in particular was shared at this meeting. One organization is driving a culture change that places stronger expectations for a higher quality of code on the developers before passing it on to the quality group. There was some conversation around the process reducing the need for testers, but again a robust debate generated interesting perspectives for the meeting attendees.

I received requests and volunteers for more LIC meetings in the SFC area. One of the attendees was active in a user group and highlighted the important differences between what we are doing at STP and user groups. Boiled down it is simply that we at STP want to encourage discussion on all topics of interest to the software test and quality community - where user groups want to focus on the topics around their tools. That is not a bad thing, just a different approach. We at STP pride ourselves in building bridges between people, process, and technology. We also know that every group and meeting will be different for each LIC. Member control and delivery will guarantee these meetings are timely and useful for the professionals in our industry.

I am so heartened by the fact that this group in SFC like NYC found the meeting a great first step in creating a long term initiative within the local community. It seems like there is a definite interest in our community to get together to help each other. We are optimistic that in a year from now we could have 30 active Local Interest Chapters around the country. That would be a very satisfying result for an organization that believes in the power of connecting people.

I am currently working on a supporting document that will help STP members to host a meeting in their area. It will include the vision of the Local Interest Chapters, logistics for putting on a great meeting, along with topics and facilitation that has proven to be valuable for the attendees. We here at STP will be the backbone of the infrastructure to put these meetings on - but it is the knowledge and passion of our community volunteers that will make these meetings a great success.

My next two meetings will be in Colorado Springs (our home base) and Denver. I have received interest in PA, MI, MA, and TX. If you are interested contact me at

Local Interest Groups Kicked Off in New York City!

Its official, the Local Interest Chapter implementation is under way. Yesterday I had the pleasure and privilege to host the first official Local Interest Group meeting for Software Test Professionals. It was held at Robert Half Technology on 245 Park Street in downtown NY. Our very own Strategic Advisory Board member Bala Muller was the guest presenter and he generated a number of excellent discussions around a host of issues, including a very engaging discussion about automation.

I opened the meeting with an introduction of who we are at STP, our mission and vision for the local chapters, and it seemed to be well received. It was great to have Paul Flaharty Regional VP for Robert Half, who is also a chapter officer for HDI, there to explain and share his knowledge of what they are seeing in the job market for software test and quality professionals. He shared some encouraging numbers and also had firsthand knowledge to share with the group on how valuable the local chapter model is to the professionals that attend the meetings.

Bala Mullur’s presentation generated exactly what I was hoping for which was an engaging dialogue on the specific interests within the group of attendees. The presentation ended up being a facilitated discussion and took many tangents which are exactly what makes these local meeting so valuable. The group was very engaged and willing to share. They agreed, disagreed, and offered offer a host of opinions but more importantly they were sharing their real life experiences with the group. There were also a few questions posed by group members for the group to give input and opinions on. Two topics offered some very good discussion, metrics, and automation. We also had a good discussion around the “cloud” and as expected, security was definitely a concern for the financial folks in the room.

It was a varied group and included a developer/tester team from the same organization who utilized the meeting it seemed to build a stronger professional relationship. It was encouraging to see an example of teamwork between developer and tester. We talked about the importance of teamwork in the meeting, as well as the importance of speaking a common language in IT, and specifically how to communicate more effectively with upper and executive management.

There was a very passionate discussion around automation, and the final outcome was an agreement that we need to really be clear about what we mean when we talk about automation and testing. The group had great feedback and Bala had some interesting examples of what he is doing at his organization with automation, and I am encouraging him to write about the examples he used at our meeting for the website or an upcoming newsletter.

Overall, it was a great meeting that went beyond the 2 ½ hours we scheduled. I even received feedback that the meeting could have been longer. The time flew, and even after we ended the formal meetings, attendees were passing cards and making local connections with the others at the meeting. I will continue to nurture NY and a couple of folks were interested about volunteering for future meetings but concerned about the time commitments. Time is a valid concern but based on the survey I handed out, this meeting was time well spent!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Conversation Begins at STP…

I am extremely excited about the reaction we have been getting to the new features on our new website. Visit the new website at I want to thank the many of you that have shared kind words, bugs, and critiques about the site. All of these comments will help the Software Test Professionals website to serve its members more effectively.

We received feedback from a tester who suggested that they would not become a member of the site because it was not “tested properly”. I was a bit confused by that comment because it suggests that the site would have to be “perfect” or “bug free” to meet their approval. I have to respectfully disagree and ask the question; isn’t finding bugs and functional issues that work better for a user the value of what testers do for an organization?

Our new Software Test Professionals website will be the most tested and functional website on the face of the earth if we get consistent feedback from the most qualified community in the world. The testing will be happening every time one of our testers shows up on the site; daily and on an ongoing basis. To suggest that a lack of testing is sufficient (what is sufficient?) to determine whether or not to become a part of STP is short sighted in my view. Our developers built the website knowing the scrutiny would be as personal and invasive as a colonoscopy, and are excited by the challenge and opportunity serving this community is. Try to get LinkedIn or Facebook to change their site to meet your needs. We are in business for the testing and quality community, not to be everything to every social group in the world.

The framework is up, the basics are built, and the journey begins at STP. I am taking in all of the critiques with an eye toward what the future holds; a site guided and built with an ultimate goal of a website and membership built on superior quality. Keep your testing hat on as you visit the website. We want every comment and suggestion because every comment is an opportunity to reach the ultimate goal; to be your home base, where everybody knows your name (and your value)…

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Getting Ready for Software Test Professionals

We have been feverishly preparing to launch the new “Brand” Software Test Professionals, Software Test & Quality Assurance magazine, and Software Test Professionals Conference & Expo here at STP. We are taking what were simply a magazine called Software Test & Performance and a small conference called STP Con, and turning them into components that will make up what we hope to be the most trusted place to be by the Software tester and quality assurance professional. We will become people focused in the tradition of great associations. We will be launching so much throughout 2010 to support this new focus, and the speed of delivery will depend on how quickly this community embraces the concept. I have outlined a few points of focus for the new membership offering.

Our new membership focus will be to:

• Provide a framework for members to learn, share, and build their reputation.
• Provide the recognition and awards, developed by the membership to validate the achievements of individuals and organizations.
• Provide opportunities to publish works, methodologies, and information to the broader community through white papers, magazines, newsletters, and books to increase the awareness of the overall commitment of these individuals to the profession as a whole.
• Gather the membership together at conferences, local interest groups, and training events to share and recognize the professionals within an industry and their commitment to learning and developing themselves and the industry as a whole.
• Provide a voice beyond the immediate community where other professionals can reference the work being produced by the association’s members. Increasing the overall reputation of the industry.
• Validation of the profession; American Medical Association, American Bar Association; Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Help Desk Institute are examples of associations that validate the role and function of an industry into a profession by providing all of the above.

We are chomping at the bit getting ready to launch the “face” of our association, the website, and today are choosing the 10 testers from nearly 60 that volunteered to make sure when we launch you get a quality experience when you visit the new website. We hope it will be user ready by June 1st!

That’s not all we are working on. We are accepting proposals to speak at our fall conference to be held October 18th – 21st at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. It will include a true “hands-on” track so testers can truly test not just talk about testing. We have a great key note line-up and most importantly a cool party for the attendees! It will shake up the industry, and the experience we plan to provide will be one that we hope will confirm in your mind, that this is the place to be if you are a software tester or quality assurance professional.

The newest edition of ST&QA (Software Test & Quality Assurance Magazine) is being edited as I write this Blog posting. It has articles explaining the new brand and “ community model” along with a great article by James Bach called the “Omega Tester” and a couple of new features, “Ask the Tester”, where Matt Heusser has engaged Michael Bolton to answer some excellent questions from software testers in our community. We have part IV of the Six Sigma article series by Jon Quigley and Kim Pries, and a couple of other features on load and performance testing you will not want to miss! And finally we have added a cartoon feature by Andy Glover who has a great Blog at

We have planned, created, and are about to implement the newest community for software testers and quality assurance professionals. It will only work if we are embraced by you. We are about people sharing with people. We are about promoting you and your knowledge to benefit the community. We are about publishing and vetting the latest and hottest trends in our industry you are discussing. We want to provide Local Interest Chapters around the country, the best conference experience bar none, and the best website infrastructure to support your ability to connect to other trusted testers and quality professionals.

We hope the industry is ready. We hope you are ready. We will be ready June 4th.

Rich Hand
Director of Membership & Publications
Software Test Professionals

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Will you “Crew”?

I was recently given a preview of our new website at Software Test & Performance Collaborative. Not only will we be launching a new website, we are rebranding the organization to align with our membership focused mission. A couple of the features I was briefed on were:

Crew Membership: STP members will be able to create interest groups that focus on the topics that interest them. They can create crews (groups), join crews, create content, present content, and control the experience they want to create as a member. They can simply observe or they can become a highly “decorated” member of the community. Members will have the ability to rate content and comments that will elevate member’s status within the community. I strongly believe and support the ability for members to create their own experience and want to see the next generation of leaders cultivated through this peer process. Of course we will be developing and providing content at STP. But we know the best content comes from the professionals in the field doing the testing.

Social Media Tools: The web is full of social networks enabling people to connect and collaborate. It is extremely important to help people connect based on their interests. Our developers have taken the ability to connect and make “friends” (like Facebook), organize into “Crews” (like LinkedIn Groups), post videos (like YouTube), share documents (like Share Point), and create & deliver presentations (like Live Meeting) all within a website that will be focused on Software Test Professionals. We all know the value social networks have created, but we also know how time consuming the social web can be. For the Software Testing community we want to be the best place to get your information, fast!

I am extremely excited to start serving the community with this new website functionality. I want to give our development team kudos on a great infrastructure but now that I have seen it; I want it yesterday!

Let me know the functionality you would like to see in our new membership area of the website?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The HDI Membership Event in Orlando…

Having spent seven years at HDI as the Executive Director of Membership I will miss not being at the big event this year in Orlando at the Rosen Shingle Creek. I had the honor of working with Fiona Henderson the former Executive Director of Events to manage the conference program team of; John Custy, Phil Gerbyshak, Jeff Brooks, Mary Cruz, Katherine Lord, and Pete McGarahan. These members of the HDI membership are top notch professionals. I was the track Chair for the Maximize Team Performance track, and I wish I could be there to see it all come together. I am sure that all of the sessions that were chosen will be a great success at the event as they always have been.

It is a new day in membership with the introduction of Social Media platforms with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other tools. I am so glad I had the great sense to reach out to ServiceSphere guru Chris Dancy to create what is turning out to be an extremely popular pre-con; “Congratulations; Here is Your BS in Social Media.” Make sure to meet Chris at the event. He will be the one walking around interviewing and engaging attendees and vendors to post on tweet reel and twitter.

I convinced him to create a social media course for the conference, and it looks like the HDI community is embracing both Chris, and the concept. I knew the day I met Chris that he was exactly the type of person membership and community is built on. He was always willing to “drop off” as Ron Muns used to put it - when it came to helping his colleagues. He is now a Local Chapter Officer in Denver, and he is making a true difference in the ITSM community overall.

I am really excited for the members of HDI to experience the great program and pre-cons that are available at HDI 2010. Created by membership for the community it serves. That is the greatest reward any Membership Director could ask for.

HDI has a great Membership community!

Have a great time in Orlando!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The “Model” Remains the Same…

Ron Muns the Founder of HDI, my former employer, had a philosophy; always embrace valuable information and share it with your members no matter the source. And even if the “source” is "competitive", as long as it is credible and valuable, share it with your membership. The philosophy is more relevant today than ever.

Today with the pervasive information “traveling” throughout the networks called social media, information is just information, the value add is getting it to the right people, joining in the conversation, and enabling a vibrant discussion around the topic. The model is the same, the delivery has changed. There are so many new delivery methods.

There are also a ton of people that are trying to jockey for a position as a social media “expert” to help organizations figure out the best way to engage with this new medium. But there can’t be any true “experts.” There are people that are ahead of the curve on the tools and skills needed to navigate the virtual web, but the information is too vast and rapidly changing for anyone to have the time to be designated “expert.” Learn from people or organizations that are willing to help; avoid the "experts."

The greatest value we can add from an organizational perspective is to learn social media so we can share the information that will help the communities, customers, and members we serve. Give them a way to help each other through engaging the social media. Get to know Social Media to understand, learn, and grow with your community.

The goal is the same as when Ron started his company many moons ago before Social Media. You must know how to utilize social media, but it is not simply the social medium that is important; it is how you use it to serve your customers information that is credible and valuable …

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Get Involved in the Conversation…

I tell my kids that the key to a successful life is to get involved and love to learn. Getting people involved is what I spend my time and energy doing in my personal and professional life. It is very rewarding when I send out a request for applicants to get involved as a volunteer, and hundreds of people apply. I wish it was thousands, and it should be, but that is one of the other secrets I share with my kids; so few step up that when you do, you stand out. And standing out in an organization by volunteering your knowledge and abilities always adds to a successful life.

I have also defined success for my kids. Success is not about the money and stuff, success is about strong families, strong relationships, fulfilling your spirit with knowledge, sharing that knowledge to help others, and leaving behind a legacy to be proud of.

The material wealth may or may not come, but mostly you “get what you need” to quote a great Stone’s song.

The way to get involved in the conversation is to engage in your profession through membership or community models, utilize the social network tools and groups that focus on your interest, create a group that focuses on the things that get your passion flowing, but get involved.

Get in the conversation and success will follow. However you define success…

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Social Identity; How many should we have?

A long, long time ago, in a far off land, it used to be that having more than one identity made you either a spy or a two faced B------! Today in the new world of social everything, you have to have as many identities as you have interests. With the lines blurring between business and personal lives we are continuing to see and create social identities on the web that match the personal, business, personal/business, pursuits we have in life. It is interesting times we live in where it is possible and within anyone's reach to be the next “celebrity” personality or “expert” on the social web. The opportunity for existing businesses to change and grow with the times seems dependent on getting connected in the new social world. But how do we do that?

What makes a social identity a celebrity or expert in the social space? What’s the reason 15,498 social identities follow jaybaer (twitter identity)? How did Pete Cashmore (mashable) attract 1,954,790 social identities to follow this identity, and when he created a personal identity of (PeteCashmore) in days he had 5,101 followers? Who is behind (Servicesphere), the IT Service Management expert with nearly 1000 followers?

In a social world of many identities, what seems to be happening is what has happened throughout time, people are attracted to a trusted source on a topic that interests them. What these few examples, and there are many more, have in common is trust, credibility, and a seemingly endless amount of caffeine at their disposal. They are “living” in the social societies of the web. They eat breathe and endlessly create value for their followers. They are pioneers in a social world where people crave information, and they deliver.

So what does this all mean for the rest of us? And in particular those of us that currently have small businesses, have written a book, are running for elected office, and are artists, musicians, and human beings. The answer seems to be to engage with the new social society in the areas that we are truly passionate about. Not just to make money because people can sniff that out a mile away in this new social society. We need to be contributing value to the conversation happening in this new world.

Back to my initial question; how many social identities should we have? My guess is as many identities as we have interests. As long as those identities are created for the purpose of adding value in the chosen social arena of interest, create away. We need to be in the social society for the same reasons we engage in the “real” society; to add value to our lives and the lives of others. We go to work, we go home and coach the kids sports team, follow the politics of the day and rant, read a good book, and sleep. The only thing different between the social web society and “real society” is to make it in the virtual world you just can’t sleep!

Make another pot of coffee dear it’s going to be a long day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Social Media Week!

I learned that this week is Social Media Week! Here is a link to learn more .

The social media “world” is a very confusing landscape to navigate. But if you are in business, you really need to understand how it can help you gain a competitive edge and improve customer relations. Business needs to be in this world just as they needed to increase their presence on the net with a business website. Similar to why a business needs a website, businesses need a social web strategy to expand their brand and image in their respective industry.

NewComm Forum, a conference my company is hosting is looking to help people navigate this social landscape by providing speakers that “live” in the virtual world. And believe me it is a new world. When I talk to business owners and they ask me what I do, the conversation always comes back to social media. These business people are confused by the social web because it is a “new frontier” similar to the .com revolution of years past. But they instinctively know they should be doing something on these social networks.

I tell them this new “world” offers opportunities that will enhance their businesses but the ROI depends on the type of business they are in, and the resources they have to make sure they have a visible, professional, and active social identity.

As the number of organizations that use the social web to build and grow business increases, so will the opportunity to build relationships between social media companies and the customers they serve. That is the opportunity that most excites me in this new world.

Please feel free to comment and if you would please take the 3 question survey I have created about Social Media Week; I would appreciate it! Thank you in advance.

Survey Link

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Some People Just Get IT!

I love to learn, and my favorite way of learning is to share ideas and information with like minded individuals. Today I learned a boat load of great information and knowledge from a social media master, Chris Dancy of ServiceSphere. He is a humble man and will tell you he is learning all the time as well, but when you compare where he is in the social media space, he is light years ahead of many; especially me!! I wanted to thank him for his time and eye opening discussion around the many perspectives and current uses of social media. If you don’t know him you will find him in the twittershere under the ServiceShere moniker.

I have also been reviewing the nearly 200 applications for the Strategic Advisory Board for our Software Testing Professional (STP) Collaborative. I am always honored but never surprised by the willingness of people to get involved in their profession. There will only be a handful of people that will be chosen due to the logistics of managing such a group, but I will find a way to harness the passion of the people that want to offer their time to help others in the software testing community.

The beauty of membership is it is about people. And people are what it is all about. Today was a really good day in my world of people.

Thank you Chris and thanks to the 200 applicants that have offered their knowledge to help the STP community!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Introduction to the STP Collaborative...

Dear IT Software Professional:

I consider it an honor and privilege to serve the membership organization for STP Collaborative as your new membership director. It is an exciting and challenging endeavor for me to join this new organization after spending the last seven years building and managing a very “mature” membership organization focused on help desk and IT service and support professionals. When I joined that organization, we were determined to lead the industry to a more respected position within IT, and I believe with the help of the membership, we did that with great success.

Membership organizations thrive on participation from professionals that believe they can make a difference in the future of an industry. The most rewarding part of working within a membership organization is working with professionals who want to make a difference. Through traditional and online communications and new social channels, live local events and industry conferences, we have the opportunity to have a positive impact and influence on our industry. Many great ideas have changed entire industries, and often are the result of small groups of individuals working together and sharing common practices.

It is this idea of individual collaboration, working together to improve organizational and personal efficiency, and the willingness to share, that I hope to foster here. Content is everywhere, but the implementation, validation, and continuous improvements through the collaboration of people, is the key differentiator in a membership organization.

With the advent of social media platforms that enable people to work together virtually, many have questioned the viability of membership organizations as a whole. I believe that there has never been a greater need for human collaboration than we face today. Technology provides a great introduction to common interests, and allows us to extend that all-important experience of looking someone in the eye, shaking hands, and building a relationship.

Technology will be a key approach of this membership model, but it will be driven by advisory boards made up of human beings. As membership director, I plan to focus on managing a strong strategic advisory board and conference planning board. This year we will also introduce a new executive roundtable level of membership that will bring professionals together at forum meetings, including admission to our annual conference, STPCon. We are working to enhance our partnership with other organizations to support a local roundtable series throughout the country so that professionals in common geographic areas can learn and network together. We’ve introduced a robust professional development offering consisting of quarterly public training events, and plan on increasing our webinar offerings, and will be looking to practitioners to host and highlight the great things they are achieving in their organizations through case study style presentations and articles in the STP magazine.

Software applications are produced by developers based on the business requirements, and include testing and quality professionals, business analysts, project managers, and ultimately result in a product or service that supports the overall business objective. It is a complex maze of individuals, communicating and working together, and is most effective when the team has a common vision and goal. It is an international effort at many organizations, including many teams of professionals working together virtually. If we think about how difficult it is to work with someone two cubicles down, we start to appreciate the issues when we are separated from team member’s two time zones away.

It is our vision and goal to get the members of software teams to effectively communicate and collaborate to improve the reputation of all of the IT units responsible for business success.

We invite you to join us and share your ideas and goals for STP Collaborative. Ultimately you will be the testers of our success. We will do our best to deliver valuable news and information, education and training, and opportunities for professional networking and knowledge sharing to serve this community.

We are here to help you achieve the recognition you deserve by delivering your IT software and applications with the highest possible level of quality, on time and within budget.

Let the journey begin…

Rich Hand
Director of Membership

Friday, January 8, 2010

People are the new IT…

I was in a very engaging conversation with one of my favorite people, a social media guru, ITSM expert, and overall great guy, Chris Dancy, and he made the statement, “people are the new IT” and followed up with “Membership is the new CMDB.” Now I admit we were both drinking (only kidding) when we went off discussing this “revelation” but as I thought more about it, this is a concept worth vetting (It’s Friday after all).

Years ago man controlled machine, and the promise of new technology was a more leisurely world for man at the expense of technology. But if we look at the world today, technology is running the world, and man is being run by technology. Technology is rampant, and it offers endless, new, and different opportunities to do business, connect with people, pay your bills, watch your movies, get your news, and it seems that there is very little we do in life that doesn’t involve technology. It can seem overwhelming, and it is. It seems we are constantly being distracted and driven by technology.

So how does this relate to membership? Membership is the new CMDB. For those of you that are not in technology, CMDB is the acronym for Configuration Management Data Base. It is a way for technology professionals to manage all of the technology in their organization. It is the “connective tissue” that provides the infrastructure needed for technology to work. Your PC is connected to a router, which connects to a server, which hosts the software you need to interface with your database, which connects to the web, which allows your customers to connect to your website and buy your product or service. In a nutshell it is every technology component needed to produce the outcome you or your business is engaged in and important for you to “succeed.”

Membership organizations have become the people CMDB that bring together the service management professional, software tester, developer, knitter, or any other group of people that have a common purpose, into connected “components.” The “components” that make up a successful software tester for example is; access to content that is relevant and validated, trainers that provide relevant training on skills needed to be a successful tester, conferences that provide sessions and speakers, and meetings that bring people together in local groups to discuss important topics to the testers. Membership provides and connects the “components” (people) with the technology, training, and people they need to be successful in their profession.

As I argued in a previous post, membership is where the cutting edge professionals gather to move an industry forward. Membership is disruptive to an industry and is where cutting edge ideas are developed, vetted, and implemented throughout the organizations of the membership. It is where all of the components of a successful industry are “housed.” Just like a CMDB, except today configuration items (CI’s) are people in one place working to provide a service by connecting people, ideas, and excellence.

A bit of a stretch? Maybe but I had an entire 6 pack to get through (just kidding)…

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Role of Membership in a Disruptive World…

“Disruptive” is a term we use often in the social media world and simply means; outside the current wisdom and norms. It seems to me that membership can be as “disruptive” as any technology or new platform similar to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc…

Membership organizations disrupt current norms because when people gather around a common interest things change. People drive norms, and technology supports people’s ability to change process and business practices that over time become the norms. Technology is the platform that enables disruptive behavior but we don’t want to disrupt just to disrupt. The things that should be disrupted are things that need to be changed. For example, customer service practices for service organizations.

Customer service needed to be disrupted because too many organizations were hunkered down in their barracks insulated from customers through phone trees that frustrated people off the phone, self service technology that placed the burden back on the customer, and large marketing budgets that flooded the market with one sided messages designed to replace reality with perception. Companies that had embraced the practices of keeping customer complaints at bay have now had to deal with the disruption that social media enables. In my opinion this is an example of positive disruption.

So let me try to bring this back to the traditional “membership model.” Membership organizations if they are doing it right, are simply trying to drive industry disruption by bringing together the “players” (members) that are the leaders in an industry. Most people that join membership organizations have leadership qualities and are tuned into what is important and relevant in a particular industry. They decide together what is needed in an industry and go about trying to make the changes needed to improve that industry.

It seems on first glance that a practice with such traditional roots could be so cutting edge, but membership is where cutting edge ideas gain credibility and validation. Great ideas and intentions are all over the web today in many different places including LinkedIn groups, Face Book groups, Google Groups, Yahoo Groups, Fan Pages, and advanced through Tweets, but are these ideas making a difference? I would argue absolutely! But imagine if all of the people in an industry came together through membership in one organization willing to promote, fine tune, and through a collaborative effort validate those ideas, what an impact that would have on an industry! That is what membership does when done right.

Talk about being disruptive…