A Bright Spot in Chapters

Your association and chapters probably face the same challenge the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) wrestles with: filling the industry and association leadership pipeline.

Their New England chapter meanwhile was acting. In 2013, IIDA New England launched the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) answering one of the top requests from firm principals:  provide specific professional development training to rising designers in the chapter. The focus was on designers with at least 3 years and a maximum of 8 years of experience in the design industry. The goal was preparing these professionals for leadership roles through a series of interactive seminars covering a wide spectrum of skills and business fundamentals over an 11-month program. In 2019, the chapter expanded the program with L.E.A.D (Leadership Exploration & Development) designed for professionals in the 10-15 year category to provide continued advancement and development throughout their careers.

IIDA New England is a bright spot in the IIDA network. While we often in chapter management look for the problems to provide help and solutions, we might take a page from Dan and Chip Heath’s book and instead look for the bright spots.

Interestingly, many of us in the chapter management are practicing at least the first step in tapping bright spots: we actively ask chapters to share best practices and successes like the Grant Professionals Association online form for submitting ideas or the American College of Physicians which collects success stories on chapter awards nomination form or the Association for Computing Machinery – Women in Computing’s monthly Facebook contest for student chapters (best post wins a $50 prize for the chapter).

It is what we do next that makes the difference.

We explored the what and how of leveraging bright spots in two sessions at CEX 2020. The first session, led by Charlotte Muylaert of Billhighway gave us a working definition of a bright spot and a process for identifying and sharing. We heard from NACE chapter manager Cathi Horner about the Maine Chapter’s bright spot and how they are sharing. Session two featured three other associations sharing bright spots: Associated General Contractors Austin Chapter’s virtual training win, NACE Maine’s awareness campaign, and the Illinois Principals Association’s membership win. Read more on what’s a bright spot and how it can be used to help chapters innovate, six steps for identifying bright spots, and how to share exceptional chapter behavior and practices.

Back to IIDA. What makes this a bright spot? Instead of working alone, the chapter partnered with local firms to solve a mutual challenge—filling the leadership pipeline. That support was instrumental in both marketing and growing the program and in developing a revenue source. And IIDA’s bright idea was offering Catalyst Grants so other chapters could replicate.

What problems are chapters experiencing right now that could be solved by a bright spot approach?