SEPTUAGENARIANS like myself are supposed to be enjoying retirement time, taking it slow and easy, playing with grandkids, traveling and visiting friends and relatives, catching up on readings, or writing memoirs. But here I am and still at it, helping a non-profit organization build a secretariat team, volunteering for an association to build an online community, and working with the family to build a house in our hometown.
Building something must be my calling. So let me share my experiences and insights on the three “building” projects I mentioned:
1. Building a team. I subscribe to Aristotle’s mantra, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” which implies that a team working together can accomplish more than what each team member working individually can contribute.
In my column last September 16, 2021 entitled, “What Associations Can Learn from Google’s Project Aristotle,” I cited five essential traits of team effectiveness based on what Google researchers found out:
a) Psychological safety (tolerance to failure leads to success);
b) Dependability (reliance on one another for better performance);
c) Structure and clarity (understanding of expectations, goals and outcomes);
d) Meaning (alignment with own sense of purpose and personal goals); and
e) Impact (knowing their work makes a difference and creates change).
When I first met with the secretariat team I was tasked to lead, I imparted these traits and impressed upon them the importance of having to work as a team, with specific tasks and back-up plans. Now on our second month, I think we are working well as a team.
2. Building an online community. In this digital world dominated by new technologies and millennials, I thought the best way to reach out to more association members and to make the organization more visible is to build an online community. My learnings to date as we prepare for its launch shortly are as follows:
a) Engage your key stakeholders (board, members, staff) at the outset to get inputs and feedback;
b) Visualize from the start what benefits and impact will the community provide to your members, then start small but plan to scale up;
c) Organize a team of two (minimum) to manage the platform, i.e., a community manager and a webmaster;
d) Upload content and other resources steadily into the platform to keep users coming back; and
e) Encourage more communities to grow within the platform.
3. Building a house. Being an association professional, I have realized that building a new house is like starting a new association. You need the following:
a) A purpose of why you’re building it in the first place;
b) Plans on how to put up the structure according to your vision;
c) Funds to finance what are needed to complete the structure;
d) People to carry out the task of building; and
e) Tons of patience and tweaking as challenges and changes happen along the way until finally your dream comes true!
Come to think of it, what these three seemingly unrelated activities of building a team, a community and a house have in common are three essential ingredients that need to be present to attain success: purpose, planning and resources, and principally, people.
Octavio Peralta is currently the executive director of the Global Compact Network Philippines and founder and volunteer CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives, the “association of associations.” E-mail: email@example.com.