Building the IA Summit team: 10 weeks since IA Summit 2014

These past two weeks I’ve very much enjoyed a visit to Iowa to visit my alma mater and to Illinois (near St. Louis) to visit my family.

Along the way, I also got to see Des Moines (in just two hours) with a most excellent tour guide: Scott Kubie. You may recognize his name from either of his IA Summit presentations about telling your job search story and making concept diagrams. Through a series of unfortunate situations, I didn’t see much of Des Moines while living in Grinnell, IA, and I was really happy to finally sample its awesomeness. So, big thanks to Scott!

Things that happened list

Meanwhile, things chugged along in IA Summit land.

  • Carrie drafted, shared, and discussed the first version of our content strategy;
  • The web team (Paul, Stéphane, Steve) made progress on the website, including…
  • A really productive and fun meeting (Paul, Steve, Carrie) that they allowed me to sit in on (and stir up a little trouble, I admit);
  • Sylwia made further progress on her accessibility plan;
  • Dan got started meeting and interviewing the people he’ll be working with as Experience Director;
  • We had another co-chair meeting (Mike, Veronica) with Jessie following from her travels via asynchronous means;
  • And all of the co-chairs now receive and send enough email that we’re starting to miss stuff.

A bunch of excellent things!

The last one I am partially listing as a cover and an informal thank you for your patience with any of the three co-chairs’ response time. You = both our official team as well as the community at large. We’ll let you know if we come up with a way to sort it out better.

Building the IA Summit team

10 weeks ago, many of the people on our (still growing) team had never heard of one another, let alone met each other. Indeed, not long before that, even Jessie, Mike, and I barely knew one another.

And that’s the brilliant thing about IA Summit: its awesomeness naturally attracts awesomeness, as long as you use a bit of strategy. So far, we’ve had four main requirements in who we recruit. We look for people who:

  • Are passionate about the role they fill. They might already be good at it, or they might really want to learn about it. Either way, they are dedicated to filling their role to the best of their ability.
  • Will gain satisfaction from their role. If a volunteer is already skilled in their role, satisfaction may come from finally getting to do it right, on a team that empowers them. If a volunteer is learning in their role, satisfaction may come from the opportunity to learn something they’ve been aching to learn.
  • Willingly and knowingly give their time. Volunteers for IA Summit give precious hours of their week in exchange for an etherial return: that the IA Summit and our community will be better for it.
  • Want to join our team. Working on IA Summit is not a place to hide away from people, despite the remote nature of our team. In fact, the only way we’ll make this thing work is if everyone is intentional and proactive with their collaboration.

And, happily for us, our team has worked very well, in part thanks to these four attributes in each of us (including the co-chairs).

I was pretty sure we were doing it well, but attending the web meeting last week was concrete evidence of how well this can work. Everyone in the (virtual) room was dedicated to making a helpful and excellent website.

Most were clear in their role, but even better: When someone wasn’t sure about the role of a person or a document, instead of keeping that wonder and worry inside them, they openly asked for clarification.

La! For me, these moments are so satisfying and make me so happy to have the team we have. Being sure of yourself can be a help on a team, but the self-awareness and confidence to admit when you don’t know what’s going on and then figure it out, well, that makes a team really effective and satisfying.

New teammates

This fortnight brought on a single teammate, one who many IA Summit speakers know and love:

  • Adam Polansky is our speaker studio coordinator. Welcome back, Adam!

That’s all for this update. Until next time, y’all!


About Veronica Erb

Designs, researches, illustrates, and writes code. Plays ukulele. Dances Balboa. Grew up in a geodesic dome, and hasn't gotten over it.
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