Monday, January 28, 2008

response point 5

To me, a proposal of recruiting a number that would lead to an actually shrinking of the LC- a shared proposal by more than one at the retreat- seems to be two steps in the wrong direction, and gives very mixed messages to newer members on how we actually plan on carrying out our mission. (Katy)

More on this later, but the instant you decide to decrease in size, you, your future members' experiences, and your past servants' legacies are FUCKED, and the foundation many others toiled to lay will have proven to be not nearly as mighty as they may have thought.

UPDATE: The conversation is delicious, and I'll weigh in more thoroughly tomorrow. A birthday party tonight got in the way. Keep the thoughts coming, here, there, there, or on your own blog. Let's try to keep the conversations on target (whatever the target of that exact conversation may be - some are focused around slightly different points), progressive, and DARING. Push your brain hard.

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23 Comments:

Blogger Molly said...

no one actually proposed a decrease in size, the lowest number proposed was 15

with only 12 graduating, and more returning from abroad by the time we start again in fall, even before our new recruitment drive, we wouldn't be shrinking.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I couldn't agree more. You should always grow at a pace that at least scares you slightly. That's where potential is reached and innovation happens, on the edge of our limits.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Katy said...

Trying not to be two nit picky, the numbers I remember were 13 graduating and six possible that right now think to be going abroad on a traineeship. That is 19 people- and only a recruitment of 15.

Even with the case of the people coming back from abroad, that at best is minimal (6, 7?) And we haven't even considered the people we are recruiting wanting to do a traineeship in summer and carrying to fall, or anyone in any of the LC who will be studying abroad next fall.

All factors that contribute, and if we recruit 15 we would shrink.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Stagnation is the most dangerous concept in a thriving LC, while the most powerful concept is a visionary sense of possibility.

Leaders should expand their minds and think about creating a bold new
AIESEC that they have not yet seen, as opposed to holding themselves to the AIESEC of their pasts. Yes it's scary, yes it requires risk, but if the AIESECers of the past had not created bold and daring visions that pushed their limits, the AIESEC of today would not exist.

6:28 PM  
Blogger T-rent said...

Just to reiterate: Organizations only cease growing when their relevance is decreasing. My understanding is that AIESEC, especially at a campus like Madison, is no where near the size it could be. Having a strong returning class should signal the ability to grow more and increase the relevance and work of the organization.

Its interesting how AIESEC has been typically quite conservative towards trying to expand its relevance with some people, past and present, pushing for some kind of elitist form of membership. In reality, AIESEC has a broad relevance, or should, and thus should be reaching out to as many students who would be willing to embrace the mission.

Of course resources are a question, and growing fast without a plan is not a good idea. But that is really the question for the leadership: How can we increase our relevance? How can we make this work? An LC at this stage should behave more like a startup, actively trying to grow ambitiously and answering the question "How?"

11:04 PM  
Blogger Bruhaha said...

Mix, You just condemned everyone in the LC who did not promote growth, without having looked at any of the FACTS of the REALITY of the LC. That is GROWTH FOR THE SAKE OF GROWTH.

There are very large problems that are being vocalized very strongly from many regions of the LC. These problems need to be solved NOW. Not tomorrow, not in a couple weeks, not at the end of this semester, not next year, NOW.

I am agreeing with Trent, the LC should be treated as a start-up. Most start-ups do not fail for lack of initial growth; they fail for lack of adaptability. And right now the LC is not adapting. There were glaring examples during the retreat where members were calling for the changes of our current ways in-order to accommodate the increased membership, and the ideas were shot down by the existing leadership instantaneously with no discussion at all. The same leadership that was calling for the an open discussion about its growth strategy.

Adapt or die. And right now the LC is not adapting, but at least it's growing!

3:33 AM  
Blogger Hero of the Light said...

Trent, you seem to be under the trendy assumption that relevance and growth are directly related. Why, then, is Madison 10, 20, 30 times more relevant of an LC (both locally and nationally) than other LCs around the country that have 2 or 3 times our membership?

We should have more relevance and be reaching out. But why does that require constant growth in membership every single semester? Greater limitations than size would be the fact that we only put on events or do activities that relate directly to exchange. Or that we recruit and grow solely with the mentality of trying to increase our exchange numbers.

The irony is that we AIESECers tend to act with a certain level of arrogance; that we are exempt from the rules of growing an organization that any profit or non-profit business is forced to abide by. This includes adaptability and implementing the structure AND the work BEFORE acquiring more personnel, not acquiring as many personnel as you can without collapsing just because we assume that more people in the LC automatically means more people impacted outside of the LC.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Bruni, I agree with you. Adaptability and changes in the current structure are critical for growth. And this is what I mean when I say that AIESECers have to picture a new AIESEC. The current structure can't take on 200 people. Has anyone brainstormed different structures that could? Has anyone pictured a structure where project teams are in there 20's and 30's? Has anyone pictured a structure where there are 5 rooms for GMM with 5 simultaneous ones going on instead of just one? Has anyone pictured how an event with 500 person attendance should be organized? Has anyone pictured what an exchange structure sending 50-75 people each semester should look like? Has anyone pictured a BD structure where there are about 20 BDs in Madison simultaneously? Until you start looking forward and having conversations about how to structure yourselves to accommodate BIGGER work and more membership, the LC will forever limit itself to the limits of the current structure.

Right now, I think that is the important conversation.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Bruhaha said...

As I have posted on my blog, I have envisioned functioning bigger LCs. And I am willing to implement the visions. BUT we're not. And without IMPLEMENTATION, dreaming of this larger LC is ludicrous.

For a funnier rendition of the LC, check out IBM's take on the situation.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Hero of the Light said...

I think Sara makes an excellent point, and that's where we have wanted the debate to go. This is more concrete. Personally, I've thought about these numbers and structures and have yet to think of a way to maintain overall community with that large number of people, even if we maintain efficiency, work, exchange and BD numbers. I am still thinking.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

man, I hate to be building Adam up like this, quoting him in TWO blog comments, nonetheless, he makes a point when he says:

[We think] "that we are exempt from the rules of growing an organization that any profit or non-profit business is forced to abide by. This includes adaptability and implementing the structure AND the work BEFORE acquiring more personnel, not acquiring as many personnel as you can without collapsing just because we assume that more people in the LC automatically means more people impacted outside of the LC."

BEFORE is the most important word, I think people are all willing to have conversations about what a 200 person LC would look like, if someone brought it up! But not everyone is willing to vote on that number, before they see systems of support in place. If we're throwing number like 500 hundred around, that's a conversation that should be taking place at least a year ahead of time in my opinion, because no one likes to implement unfinished structures on the fly.

National making us implement a new structure, while one GIGANTIC piece of the puzzle was still missing and not finished- the financial structure, anyone? anyone?

11:37 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Hey everyone,

glad to see a pretty phenomenal conversation getting somewhere. It sounds like everyone is at a place where they can start brainstorming what a 200, 300, 500 person LC could look like, while still keeping the same LC principles. This doesn't mean any or all of these ideas will be implemented, but what is important is that these ideas are thrown out there and debated. An LC of this sort could structurally look about a hundred different ways. It'd be cool to see some blogs detailing different ways that an LC of this nature could look.

12:25 PM  
Blogger cmckim said...

I'm gonna say it all again...

I'm the pessimistic fellow who raised his hand and said the number 15.

I'm sorry. I was wrong and realized it immediately when Kaitlin responded to my comment.



Something we need to do in AIESEC Madison is come together and decide where it is where want to go. You know, like a Vision Session or something! We had a session at the retreat that we CALLED a vision session, but in reality all it was was a history lesson and a rewriting of our LC's principles.

WE NEVER VERBALIZED WHERE WE WANT TO TAKE THE LC AND WHAT OUR ULTIMATE GOAL IS! Because of this we weren't prepared to start talking about goals like RECRUITMENT NUMBERS and because of this the conversation broke down... again.

This probably sounds incredibly silly to all of you not at the retreat, but it happened. We had never decided where it was EXACTLY we wanted to go, but we began talking about how to get there (goals) anyways. I helped facilitated that session. I take the blame.



We have all the pieces we need to begin growing and expanding and impacting on an incredible scale. We have the majority of the people in this discussion to thank for those pieces.

But the pieces obviously aren't perfect yet.

The functional teams are functioning far below their capacity. Processes and procedures still need to be hammered out and tacked down to make sure things are happening efficiently. There are tweaks and adjustments to be made to the system...

It's going to happen.

I'm not anxious to see what lies in the future for AIESEC Madison, I'm pissing my pants with excitement. I'm not worried by the challenges lying before us here in the badger-state, I'm elated.

My deepest apologies for saying "15", it was a momentary lapse in my judgment.

My deepest apologies for seeing the enormous flaw in the Visioning Session that took place at the retreat.

Mix: We're not "fucked" and we aren't going to be "fucked". We just have some very tactical and careful decisions to make.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Katy said...

Chris's comments today have made my day (see my blog!).

On the retreat- I don't think there is anyone to blame for the sessions, its easy to look black and go, oh fuck, what were thinking, why did we do it like that? But sometimes, that's what it takes! We didn't do a vision session and we learned pretty damn quick that this semester will be a crucial ones to get all future leaders of this organization(aka all members who will be here next year and beyond to lead this beast of aiesec) on the same page so they can continue on with increasing our potential

If we can all agree on our mission, i'm positive that we can all agree on a vision- if we only talk about it. Then I'm positive that with some hard as work and some 'very tactical and careful decision making' we can keep what we love about aiesec and keep it on the move.

I had a conversation last that where 150-200 was seen as the max that aiesec madison could ever be. Forever I asked? Whether the number is 85, or if that number looks like 200, i'm pretty sure my work, and the work of others,is and has been in vain if we don't keep STRIVING.

I know some of you say no one is meaning to undermine work of former generations- but stopping aiesec's local growth when there is a clear demand for it on campus, i'm pretty sure is.

And ill say it again, I don't want community to be lost. The past 3 years I've been so excited in the fact that we have been growing in a way that supports members, fosters connections, and brings opportunities to the members- the only thing is the past 3 years, I haven't been challenged by others to develop myself, challenging others to develop themselves, or working my booty off- or having others work THEIR booties off to stop at 85.


YAYYYY! :)

5:51 PM  
Blogger A King said...

Hey Friends,

Its definitely exciting to see some first steps towards having this conversation, although there's a pretty significant need to do this "irl" as they say.

I'd like to contribute one fact, one question, and one clarifying piece of info pieces to the mix.

First the fact, which is straight up some math, y'all, and has to do with how the number of people proposed to recruit would affect overall growth or shrinkage of the LC.

15 individuals was I believe the lowest number of people suggested to recruit, and the notion has been put forth that this would not have shrunk the size of the LC. However, with an LC that is currently 81 individuals strong, adding 15 would give us a total of 96 - or six less than we had after recruitment last semester. Meaning that even before taking into consideration the number of people who would graduate or go abroad after the spring semester, the LC would diminish in size.

Second, the question. During the conversation, the future ability and past inability to integrate new members has been brought up as a concern, along with the need to maintain a sense of community. But what does it mean to be integrated? And what things are most important to building a feeling of community?

51 out of 55 new members felt so connected to this LC that they wanted to devote an entire weekend to intense, difficult and long strategic conversations. Are we really in a position to tell them that they are not integrated into our community?

Finally, the piece of clarifying information. People in this organization have thought a lot about how an LC can be structured to support growth and how growth plays a strategic part of how we accomplish our mission. No one, as far as I know, has proposed "growth for growth's sake", and framing the conversation as such is a gross misrepresentation and frank dismissal of the completely reasonable and well thought out view points of quite a number of individuals.

I'd like to say again how great - and really reassuring - it is to see this conversation taking place. The onus is on those of us who are still members of the local community to engage each other and every one else in these kinds of conversations. Let's take it to the streets!

6:33 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

"51 out of 55 new members felt so connected to this LC that they wanted to devote an entire weekend to intense, difficult and long strategic conversations. Are we really in a position to tell them that they are not integrated into our community? "

I think whether they wanted to devote an entire weekend is up for debate, some of them were looking quite antsy to leave...and one of the largest reasons for attendance is obviously because it's required for membership. A desire for membership could be linked to multiple things...it would be my wish that it's the community, but it also very well could be so they can get that internship this summer.

Also, no one told them they weren't integrated, without them saying it first...a fact multiple newbies raised their hands and attested their frustrations to.

7:38 PM  
Blogger A King said...

"I think whether they wanted to devote an entire weekend is up for debate, some of them were looking quite antsy to leave...and one of the largest reasons for attendance is obviously because it's required for membership. A desire for membership could be linked to multiple things...it would be my wish that it's the community, but it also very well could be so they can get that internship this summer."

I guess the question is, should people want to be members of AIESEC because they want to be part of a community? Or should people want to be a part of AIESEC because they care about our mission?

Our community does not exist for its own sake, but because it allows us to accomplish our mission in an unbelievably impactful way. If people choose to come to the retreat because they want to be members of AIESEC, and if they want to be members of AIESEC because they want to go on a traineeship, and if they want to go on a traineeship because they want to build international cultural understanding and cooperation, then I say we have 81 members who are integrated into our local community.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Hero of the Light said...

Until we begin waterboarding, we cannot hope to know the intentions of the members.

I worry that integration is becoming such a buzz word that it's losing its meaning. We can define it however we want, but who are we to determine if someone is or is not integrated? What gives us that judgment?

On the other hand, if someone tells us that they're not integrated, at what point to we point to the structure and the leadership, and at what point do we point to the individual and say "Screw you, it's your own fault"?

8:15 PM  
Blogger A King said...

I absolutely agree with the growing meaninglessness of the word integration. Making it challenging and frustrating to discuss our potential in terms of how well we were able to integrate someone in the past or how well we will be able to integrate them in the future.

As for the question:

On the other hand, if someone tells us that they're not integrated, at what point to we point to the structure and the leadership, and at what point do we point to the individual and say "Screw you, it's your own fault"?

I'm not sure that I have an answer to that question, or that an answer even exists. What I can say though is that we should strive to build a community, and to integrate members into it, because it enables us to achieve our mission. If people feel that they are part of an organization that does that (strives to achieve its mission), mightn't we say that they are integrated??

Some interesting questions that have been on my brain are the relationship between the size of an LC and your ability to achieve integration, however you choose to define it.

Also, how does the environment that is present when new members enter the organization affect their ability to become integrated?

One thought provoking thing brought up by a member who joined last semester was that, in his experience, integration into the community was possible because he was able to build relationships and form bonds with other new people. Might it be harder for 15 people to integrate into a group of 80 experienced people than it would be for a larger group of new people to use each other as a means for integration in itself?

Food for though...

8:39 PM  
Blogger A King said...

PS: I'm Back

9:29 PM  
Blogger Jesse said...

this reminds me of when i had an LC.

the main reason we had for moderating our recruitment was the fear of a loss of intimacy.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Jenna V said...

I'd go with waterboarding...not for any specific reason...just for fun. Maybe for those late to GMM.

1:54 PM  
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11:00 PM  

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