The following article was prepared by Mike Taylor, C.P.M., for distribution to ISM affiliate newsletters.

ISM Summer Leadership Workshops
Getting the Maximum ROI

April 2007

Suggestions and commentary by mlt - 2007

Index: First Timers Previous Workshop Notes / Affiliate BOD / Team Lead / Old Timers

First Timers:

Just a few weeks and counting until the Summer Leadership Workshop. I hope everyone involved with affiliate leadership is planning on attending. The programs are looking great and I think everyone will get a lot out of the workshop.

If this is your first time, you are in for an enjoyable experience. Leadership Workshops are a good place to  meet officers and committee members from other affiliates. You will get to share ideas, discuss plans, solve common problems, learn about ISM, explore ways to support your affiliate and just plain have a good time with friends.

One favorite activity delegates reported from previous Leadership Workshops was the time spent sharing ideas.  These discussions work best when delegates share and compare what has been happening in their own affiliates. We can all use some new ideas and help in polishing the old ones.

Please come prepared to share copies, and examples of affiliate newsletters, web sites, and programs. Even new people in the affiliate can talk about what attracted them to join or volunteer. Every opinion and idea about effective communication or improving the value of membership is important. 

Here are a few specific ideas to maximize the return on your personal investment of time.

  1. You are not alone. This is not rocket science. Talk with people in your affiliate who have attended previous workshops and ask some questions:

    What did you like or dislike about the workshop?
    What do you wish you had done differently?
    What do you wish you had taken (or left behind)?
    What do you recommend for first-time delegates?
    Who are some key people I should try to meet?

  2. Meet people! Go out of your way to introduce yourself and speak with delegates from other affiliates and organizations. We are all in the same boat; there is no reason to be shy. Sit with different groups of delegates at each meal. You have all year to talk to the people you came with, but only a few short days to meet and exchange information with new friends.

  3. Network! Make some contacts in other affiliates and plan to share information via email or phone during the year.  Bring plenty of business cards, distribute them all and collect a whole bunch of new ones. We are all Supply Chain professionals who volunteer our time. We all have the same type of “day job” and we all have similar management issues in our affiliates.  Everyone can relate to worries about recruiting members, concerns with upcoming programs, newsletter delivery issues, etc.

  4. Put your name (or staple you business card) on all handouts, bags, folders and copies you want to keep. Everyone will be carrying the same stuff. A small backpack works great – and use a cheap luggage tag to make sure the bag can find you when you are lost.

  5. Put your name prominently on the Workshop proceedings book and use it to take notes and jot down ideas. That way you can keep all of your notes and plans in one location.

  6. Bring stuff to share. Any examples, samples, copies, you bring might be the key for developing a new idea that you and your friends can discuss. Take a few minutes before you attend to review the information, handouts, flyers, newsletters, web site, etc., your affiliate may already be using.

  7. Set definite action items. It's easy to fill up pages of notes and ideas while at the workshop and then loose them on the shelf. Rather than agreeing to too many generalized commitments, establish a few concrete and specific tasks for yourself with specific due dates. This is one area that a new-found network of friends can help with. If several of your new friends are talking about writing a Publicity flyer, set a mutual task due date and then collaborate via email to get it done.

  8. Get specific guidance from your affiliate BOD about why they have asked you to attend and what functions are they hoping you will perform in the affiliate when you return. Use that information to determine the workshop sessions that would be of most value, the kinds of information to track down, the kinds of questions to ask, etc. What office or position will you be involved with and what are the general duties? Be prepared to focus on the most germane presentations and discussions. Discuss the assignment with your affiliate president and other officers. ISM has suggested duties for affiliate officers posted on their web site. Check out the affiliate support and management tools in the ISM web site

  9. Bring your local affiliate organization chart with names and phone numbers. You'll be able to respond with details when talking with other people you meet at the workshop. Example: “Our president’s phone number is…”

  10. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers. Some affiliates operate differently and some delegates might say  “we already tried that”, but every idea and alternative is an opportunity to find a creative solution for your affiliate today.

  11. Assume this workshop will be a self guided training program. Take charge of your own success and seek out the information and ideas you need to do a great job.

  12. Dress for casual business. Relax and be comfortable. You don't need to impress anyone with the suit.

  13. Consider your leadership experience a personal growth opportunity. The skills developed and learn by participating will enhance your personal toolbox. The contacts you make will be your resources for a long time. The challenges will become a success on your resume.   Enjoy it & get involved! This is not a test. It’s a collaborative effort among friends for the benefit of us all. You have all year to refine the details but only one chance to participate in this cross functional task team. [hmmm sounds kind of like resume words]

Previous Workshop Notes

ISM has posted the notes from previous Leadership Workshops on line. Looking for a dinner program or a way to jump start a committee meeting? Print a copy of the notes from a workshop session and then discuss it? What better way to spend a dinner program than giving everyone a chance to contribute ideas and suggestions?

Affiliate BOD Suggestions:

Affiliates need to prepare and plan in advance to get the most from the Leadership Workshops. 

The Leadership Workshops are a significant learning opportunity and a great way to increase volunteer awareness, energy and enthusiasm.  Unfortunately, the Leadership Workshops are also a chance to disillusion, overwhelm and disappoint.

Yes, Leadership Workshops are a significant investment by ISM and committee volunteers.  But more importantly Leadership Workshops participation is a considerable investment by affiliates. More than just budget dollars, participation is an expenditure of volunteer time and enthusiasm.  For many affiliate volunteers it is the first real opportunity to see that their volunteerism isn’t going to be wasted.


1- Assign a responsible member who has previously attended a workshop to be the "team leader". 

a  The team leader will be the focal point for affiliate representation, planning, participation, coordinating activities, addressing questions, allocating budget and making sure the affiliate team is ready. 

b. The team leader will be responsible to make effective use of the affiliate workshop budget (both dollars and volunteer time). 

c. The team leader will coordinate coverage and attendance at specific workshop sessions to ensure the most effective use of limited resources.

d. The team leader will help volunteers feel prepared and comfortable in advance so they will enjoy the experience and get the most from participation.

2- Ensure that volunteers know why you want them to attend the Leadership workshop. Give them a general sense of the information and ideas that would be of value for them to acquire at the workshop.  [If your affiliate has a professionally done newsletter, you might advise volunteers not to waste time looking at newsletter options.  On the other hand, if the volunteer will be responsible for planning seminars then give the volunteer a chance to inquire about specific details that will help in doing that job.]

3- Use ISM Leadership Workshop attendance as a way to invest in future leaders. You might not get as much bang for your buck by just sending the same-old jaded Board [bored?]  members, who have been going for years, aren’t interested in proactively participating in the workshop sessions and won’t be serving as affiliate officers.

Affiliate Team Lead:

1- Communicate with your team before they leave for the workshop. Arrange a way to contact each other and stay in touch at the Workshop. It will be hard to find people once you are there. Trade cell phone numbers or agree to trade room numbers after arrival.

2- Cultivate enthusiasm – recognize team-member volunteers in newsletters and at affiliate programs.

3- Share notes and ideas from previous workshops with the team, so they will have a chance to ask questions and familiarize themselves with possible discussion topics before they get into a workshop session and feel awkward about talking.

4- Contact other affiliates in advance and arrange targeted discussions with specific members of your team.

Example: Our affiliate has a large geographical coverage and so our new officers could benefit by sharing ideas with other affiliate who are geographically challenged. By contacting in advance other affiliates who have a similar problem, we might be able to arrange to meet several delegates for lunch who have similar problems. Even if no specific ideas develop at the workshop, the meeting could grow into a friendship and valuable network.

5-  Plan a way to harvest the investment after the Leadership Workshop.  Arrange to get together, discuss ideas and provide immediate feedback to the affiliate BOD. 


 The newcomers can benefit from our experiences. The challenge for us is to provide positive leadership to  newer volunteers who might be a little nervous. New volunteers need encouragement to formulate their own new plans. They also should have a chance to enjoy the workshop. Our comments about ISM politics or rehashing old issues need to be reserved for a time when it won’t be detracting from the positive experience of the newer members. The future leaders of our organization deserve all the professional support we can provide. 

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