UPA leaders share experience,
plot future plans
and Whitney Quesenbery
Board of Directors
Just before the beginning of the UPA 2004 conference, more than 20 people
gathered for the UPA leadership summit. Planned as the first version of
an annual event, the meeting brought members from chapters, the conference
committee, UPA projects, and the board of directors together to talk about
the association’s future direction.
The event started with short presentations
on the lifecycle of associations, the role of strategic planning, and
the impact of being an international organization; then discussions branched
out to the annual
report and a look at UPA activities from many different directions.
Around the world, chapters
have taken many different approaches to creating a local UPA organization:
- In Chicago, the chapter is part of a network of organizations that
share a calendar.
- Boston holds an annual mini-conference.
- Many chapters have job boards and a focus on networking for jobs or
The group discussed the value
of having student chapters, or a way to introduce local students to UPA.
Mary Beth Rettger suggested connecting with colleges that have usability
programs so we can invite new graduates to join. Paul Sherman pointed
out that many continuing education programs are budgeted based on their
enrollment, so a connection to UPA could be a good business decision for
Diane Wilson suggested that
not everyone lives near a chapter. For her, “you get out of it what
you put into it.” (And as UPA’s former Web manager and conference
chair, she has put in a lot!)
The value of sharing
Many UPA members are the only
usability professionals in their companies. For them, UPA is an important
collegial resource. The group discussed ideas for providing more support
to these types of individuals. Many centered on using chapters as a way
to gather bits of material from chapter meetings and then distribute it
out to the rest of the organization – creating tentacles of connection.
Other ideas included:
- Running workshops and idea markets at chapter meetings, and then posting
the results for all to share.
- Creating professional profiles locally and sharing them (see UK UPA’s
to Ask Your Usability Supplier as an example).
- Providing samples of material for how to build business cases to
help people who need inspiration, as well as providing Web
resources on the subject.
- Offering a collection of sample deliverables from competitive research
to usability test notes and standard participant releases.
- Creating a “news feed” or some other way to gather the
best of the chapter newsletters for everyone to reach.
Additionally the group wanted
to increase awareness about UPA through the Web site itself. Lyle Kantovich
suggested the UPA site should be free like the Society of Technical Communicators’
site, which “helps build their brand” be making resources
available to the public. Caroline Jarrett commented she points people
“to the STC because there is a lot of 'stuff' to start with [on
usability].” By offering some free Web resources, UPA could build
its brand while also becoming an authoritative place for information about
The first annual leadership
summit at this year’s conference provided a great venue for gathering
ideas on promoting and growing the organization. It was great to see so
much energy and great ideas. UPA plans to do it again next year to create
a broad, deep pool of leadership within the organization. Connecting all
of our work is critical so we can see how much we are doing within the