We rely heavily on volunteers, especially the SIG chairs and Oracle liaisons who spend so much time with the members, they have so much insight to share. Twice a year we try to get all the volunteers together, once is just before what is now known as the TEBS (Technology and E Business Suite) conference in December but the main opportunity to learn from them is our summer volunteers day. It is a very long day with lots to be packed in and then a dinner to say thank you for all their hard work.
This year we met in Birmingham near to the airport which seems to be a pretty central place to get to. The format of the day had in many ways been dictated by the group who are very good at giving feedback. What I was particularly interested in what getting solid feedback and ideas on the areas we had started to look at in our board meeting the day before. A few years ago we introduced 'Speed Networking' into some of the SIGs, where people get to meet and talk to a lot more of the delegates and this has proved very successful. So a variation on this theme was tried out at volunteers' day. We had 'Speed Brainstorming', we looked at a number of areas and each table that had about 6 - 8 volunteers, also had a director or two with them. Once they had captured their thoughts on the first topic, the directors moved onto the next table and we looked at the next topic. It meant that volunteers were not intimidated by directors,(although I am not sure any are in the first place), but it also meant ideas were mixed up. It was fun and produced a lot of good ideas, all of which were captured and fed into the strategy working groups we are now running.
The board is looking at our products, our members, our membership model, our partners and our costs. To stay healthy, and we are a very healthy user group, we need to ensure we deliver what people want at a price they are able to pay. To do that we need the input of everyone and I hope the 'Speed Brainstorming' has allowed us to do that.