by Richard Steel

Taking a long, hard look at ourselves

Mar 04, 20093 mins
IT Leadership

Shey Cobley hosted a Socitm workshop, at Oxford Town Hall, to consider how the Society can more effectively support the broader objectives it set itself in the remit agreed at October’s EGM – “to be the professional association for all people working in ICT and related disciplines in the public and third sectors…” – particularly young professionals.

Adrian Hancock, David Houston, Bernard Gudgin, Steve Jones, David Clayden and I, were assisted by Shey (Oxford City Council) Frances Kettleday (Cambridgeshire) Alex Birtwell (Hyndburn BC) and also Vicky Sargent and Elaine Davis.

Our failure to engage effectively, to date, was exemplified, this week when, following the publication of the latest “Better Connected” report, for the most part, the newly changed username and password for the Socitm Insight pages were not passed on by Socitm Lead Members to the very people who needed them – the web professionals.

We covered quite a lot of ground, in a very productive meeting, but two clear priorities were in establishing mentoring facilities for members – both peer mentoring and mentoring by more experienced people – and supporting professional development.

The latter is being worked-on through our Membership Board but, today’s discussion served to reinforce the urgency of this work. Other issues, such as the way we welcome and support new members, were linked to these requirements.

A lot of the discussion was of facilitating the involvement of younger and less senior professionals who, generally, don’t have the same access to budget or time to attend formal meetings. Also, why is it that their managers always get to don dinner-suits to attend formal events to receive the awards their staff have earned?!

This also chimed with senior management/ executive perceptions (misperceptions) and assumptions of what’s involved in roles (such as web development), which also embraced some apparently sexist attitudes.

We need to look again at some of the data Socitm has about its own events and services. Is the attendance at our events as representative of the people we want to attract as we think it is, and are the conclusions we draw from surveys well-founded, or are outcomes skewed because of undue influence of the “Old Guard”?

We also covered communications – viral marketing, topics/ workshops – time-limited panels to brainstorm and move-on rather than arrangements “set in stone”, personal responsibility/ motivation for career development and other issues including, of course, the need to make better use of the web/ technology.

Full notes of the meeting will be circulated among meeting participants, with suggested actions arising, and we are aiming to develop a detailed action plan for agreement at the next National Advisory Council, which is on 29th April. A “quick win” should be in establishing member mentoring facilities.

As always, I’ll be glad to receive any suggestions and comments.