Keys to Success as a Volunteer Organization (BayCHI Ignite CLS West2010)


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We capture comments from 16 current and past BayCHI volunteers about how our organization has attracted members, and functioned for over 20 years. BayCHI, the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI), brings together scholars, practitioners, and users to exchange ideas about human-computer interaction and about the design and evaluation of human interfaces for products and services. BayCHI was founded in 1989.

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  • Founded in 1988-89, we have a 5000 person mailing list and roughly 800 members. BayCHI nurtures a variety of professional development activities.
  • The priority from the beginning was to serve the community - all who are interested in our topics related to human-computer interaction - over building the organization’s coffers, membership or other financial goals. We have done it with volunteer effort.
  • People who are not local to the Bay Area nonetheless join BayCHI to get the Job Bank notices to find out what’s happening in user research, interaction design, user experience activities.
  • This is an inclusive organization: we don’t pay attention to prior backgrounds, preparation, job titles, employment status. And our monthly meetings cover topics beyond the obvious (computer science and cognitive psychology).
  • We keep trying new methods to engage with the people: Tutorials that were successful at national conferences have been repeated in the Bay Area to benefit local audiences.
  • Find us on the 2nd Tuesday of the month starting at 7 pm (socializing and coffee), 7:30 pm for the program, at PARC in Palo Alto CA.

    Many people know Richard only as “Mr. BayCHI,” because he often forgot to introduce himself before introducing the evening’s speakers.

    BayCHI has had a continuous monthly program meeting at PARC (with a single exception of Sept 11, 2001). First program had 6 people in attendance. Over the dozen years Richard organized and chaired the programs attendance averaged between 150-200 people in the PARC auditorium, and the most at a single meeting was ~600 (Don Norman’s talk); we anticipated that surge and moved from PARC to a large auditorium at Stanford for the occasion.
    paraphrasing PJ Plauger: "Either everyone agrees, or the majority agree that the minority are being disagreeable.” I.e, not “majority rules”, nor “executive decisions”.
  • We’ve had lots of changes over the years, from topics we are interested in, format for our meetings, and how we choose to govern or make changes in the organization. We held our first unconference in May 2006 led by Stacie Hibino and Rashmi Sinha.
  • Howie met Clark Streeter, then an officer, who promptly turned over the role of taking minutes at Steering Committee meetings to Howie. We went from literary conceits which were fun and funny to minutes that made sense to those who hadn’t been present.
  • Lucy’s learned a lot from Van about how to support the variety of Birds of a Feather sub-specialty groups that spring up inside BayCHI. This season (early 2010) the “eye tracking” BOF is most active. BOFs might be based on location (North Bay, East Bay), or on a specialization within HCI such as the type of audience we’re addressing (Kids, designing for Japan), or the technology (Java, Mobile Applications, Web). Lucy is ready to help you reawaken a dormant BOF or startup a new one.
  • Working online and via electronic means is often fine, but f2f meetings help solidify relationships. Van demonstrated his belief in this principle by organizing CLSWest and the evening IGNITE event that this talk first appears at.
  • Mitchell Gass, a longtime volunteer and perpetual BayCHI advocate, encouraged Claudia to go to BayCHI meetings because he knew she is passionate about design. And when she did, she realized that this is an amazing organization.
  • Steve is committed to offering the great content BayCHI presents to the largest possible audience, and to that end he’s not just been recording the monthly meetings; he’s also figuring out how to publish them as podcasts, under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial ShareAlike license, using the Conversations Network channel to get larger reach.
  • The Usability Engineering BOF has been going for 11 years now. With roughly 5 meetings per year, that makes over 50 meetings. Mary along with a co-chair (previously Howie Tamler, now) Jenny Gove, we’ve partnered with the local chapter of UPA to share the responsibility for meetings - and help the audience choose one meeting instead of splitting their attention and time.
  • Andrew says “I only volunteered for a couple of years. I attended programs, volunteered and made a career transition supported by BayCHI. I was a graphic designer in advertising, and now design websites with a greater understanding about human-computer interaction.” We love that phrase “only volunteered for a couple of years.”
  • Ellen gave us two more great bits of advice:
    • Focus on what you love to do best
    • Enjoy the company of others during the inevitable gruntwork
  • Understanding the principles of BayCHI, a community based group to benefit the community. There is no single person who controls BayCHI but it is steered towards its goals by all of us. Understanding this, and playing a part in it, is a vital part of being a successful BayCHI volunteer.
  • I’ve been a member of BayCHI since 1991, but only stepped into its governance in the past 2 years. I’ve benefitted tremendously from the organization in deepening my awareness of the depth and breadth of the field of HCI, the many roles our members take in product development from engineering and marketing to user.

    You can contact me directly either as (at least through June 2010), as (since I anticipate taking on new roles when my term as Chair is over), or as .
  • BayCHI operates with a volunteer team of amazing continuity, refreshed regularly with new participants. This slide deck shares the keys to success from handful of current and alumni/ae volunteers, that would fit into the IGNITE format (20 slides, 15 seconds per slide).
  • Keys to Success as a Volunteer Organization (BayCHI Ignite CLS West2010)

    1. 1. Reflections on 20+ years of BayCHI 1
    2. 2. What is BayCHI? Local chapter of ACM SIGCHI Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 2
    3. 3. Serve the people Don Patterson Computer & Security Specialist • BayCHI Founding Father and Membership Chair (retired) Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 3
    4. 4. Great services that reach beyond local Keri Carpenter Usability Researcher • Job Bank Volunteer Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 4
    5. 5. Include everyone Fred Jacobson Tech Writer • BayCHI Steering Committee member-at-large Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 5
    6. 6. Engaging people creates community Diane Boross Interaction Designer • Treasurer, Membership Chair Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 6
    7. 7. Keep at it Richard Anderson Consultant on UX Strategy, Practice, & Management • Program Chair (12 years) Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 7
    8. 8. Govern by consensus Steve Williams Software Developer • BayCHI Treasurer (8 years) Web developer & Podcast wrangler Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 8
    9. 9. Expect change Stacie Hibino Research Scientist • Past Chair, (interim) Volunteer Chair, Meeting Logistics Coordinator Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 9
    10. 10. Participate immediately Howie Tamler Usability Consultant, UI Designer & UX Researcher • Meeting reporter, Vice Chair Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 10
    11. 11. Get involved Lucy Dobler UX Specialist • BOF Chair Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 11
    12. 12. Regular face-to- face meetings Mike Van Riper Software Developer and Designer • BOFs Chair, LinkedIn Group manager Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 12
    13. 13. Promote the practice Claudia Brenner Entrepreneur & Business Strategist • Vice Chair Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 13
    14. 14. Open source content Steve Williams Software Developer • BayCHI Treasurer (8 years) Web developer & Podcast wrangler Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 14
    15. 15. Welcome everyone Mary Van Riper Instructional Designer, User Researcher • Usability Engineering BOF co-Chair Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 15
    16. 16. Value from the programs Andrew Wong UX Designer • Intranet redesign, Job Bank Coordinator Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 16
    17. 17. Recruit help or replacement 20% sooner Ellen Francik UX Research, Technology Assessment • Past Chair Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 17
    18. 18. We all steer BayCHI toward its goals Niranjan Krishnamurthi Developer, HCI, User Research • Postmaster Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 18
    19. 19. New ideas and fresh perspectives Nancy Frishberg UX Strategist, User Researcher • Chair, back-up Program host Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 19
    20. 20. What is BayCHI? Monthly Programs • Job Bank • BOFs • LinkedIn Group • Tutorials • unconferences • online Discussion list • Consultants Directory Ignite-CLSWest 2010 Keys to Success 20