Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Grassroots Innovation Leader

On a recent association chapter visit to southern California, a chapter president I met described a unique volunteer that he had on his board.  This volunteer was the one who was always suggesting five more things that the chapter could do, or ten ways the chapter could do what it was already doing better.  Lots of ideas, lots of energy....

While the volunteer had quickly taken a position on the chapter board, the other board members did not always love his participation.  His ideas would quickly span beyond the role of his position by either stepping on the toes of their title or potentially giving them additional assignments to their already busy volunteer workload.

Recognizing the potential in this volunteer, and not wanting to lose their insight or enthusiasm, the president created a new committee position for the coming year - the strategy chair.  Instead of overseeing one aspect of the chapter, this coming term the volunteer will be responsible for doing what they loved to do: crafting reflection of what the chapter should be doing that it wasn't and how it could be doing what it already did better.  These evaluations and suggestions would be submitted to the board for presentation and review, and in an ongoing strategic direction review process will be evaluated for implementation possibilities and timing.

 First, I am grateful to the chapter president who realized what they had in this volunteer and did not just passively allow them to reach a point of frustration that they turned their energy elsewhere.

More than that, I love the concept of a position of chief innovator for a chapter.  While some of the best innovation comes from the input of multiple perspectives and I would not be surprised to hear the eventual formation of an innovation committee of some kind, the idea of having a chief innovator for each component - or for every association as a whole - is a concept the I love.  Innovation as intention and not convenience.  Innovation as continuous and not sporadic. Innovation as recognized effort and not a passing suggestion. For growth, vibrancy and longevity this is what our associations and components need.

I am not yet sure if you can create the position without having the right person to fill it, but having it as a concept that is front of mind so it can be put in place when the right leader(s) comes along is something that I certainly intend to pass on to the rest of my chapters.

And do you think this chief chapter innovator has now been identified as a potential future leader on the larger association scene?  You better believe it.

1 comment:

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