Hurricane Sandy, the elections, the economy and everything else competed with our Competition but thankfully we were blessed with a feisty alliance between New York Metro and Philadelphia chapters. Soon we also got calls from the STC New England and the Houston Chapters who had wonderful experienced judges who wanted to participate. Halleluiah!
On this page, we have collected the shared thoughts and reflections of several volunteers behind the scenes who have helped us implement and manage Regional Technical Competition from the start till now.
I declare the 2013 Greater New York and Philadelphia Regional TechComm Competition a successful example of immense sweat equity, collaboration, creative use of technology, and teamwork. Anyone who knows NY Metro Immediate Past President and our 2013 competition manager Malu Schloss knows that you just can't say no to intriguing professional development activities. Back in August, Malu started the ball rolling with team development and planning calls. When I look back on the competition activities calendar, I see an exciting array of collaboration events that used technology and teamwork:
July 10: The seeds of Collaboration between STC Philadelphia Metro and NY Metro were planted with conference call (in-person attendees met in NYC)
July 27: Competition team call using GoToMeeting (I was talking through my iPad at the Trenton Airport)
Aug. 28: Judging team building meeting with Malu, Carolyn, and I. We used Google Hangout (not a total success, but we tried!)
Aug. and Sept: NY Metro President and Google Docs wizard Nitza designs, refines, tests, reworks, and maximizes the usability of our first-ever online competition entry form.
Sept. 11: Practice for the TechComm Roadshow
Sept. 12: Malu, Carolyn, and I meet by phone to build team lists
Sept. 17: Malu, Carolyn, and I meet by phone with members of the STC New England Chapter. Now our regional competition involves judges and entries from a third chapter!
Sept. 27: TechComm Roadshow an outstanding success with 54 participants. This innovative collaborative event was hosted live in three states (NY, NJ, and PA). Technology connected virtual attendees from as far away as New England, Texas, and even a presenter from India!
Oct. 3: Malu and team work on project timeline. We used Google docs to share and collaborate on the project planning aspect of the competition.
Oct. 19: Malu, Carolyn, and I meet by phone to confirm final team list. A lot of work went into pairing experienced judges with first time judges.
Oct. 20: Entry packing event in Telford, PA, hosted by Karen at the Draeger Medical office. (Photos tell the story) I meet Malu for the first time (my new best friend is now a real life friend!). More than 8 volunteers showed up to sort and pack entries so that each judge gets appropriate entries. Entry Manager Karen mans her laptop to keep us on track. Carolyn wrote each judge a personal letter with their assigned entries and team members. A LOT of work was accomplished in this single event. NY Metro volunteer Scott rented a car and drove team members from NYC. Scott volunteered to manage the shipping. He also retained the master entries. His rental car was FULL to the brim with entries and team members.
Oct. 29: Super Storm Sandy hit NJ and NY with hurricane-force winds submerging judges cars and leaving judges and volunteers without power for up to week.
Nov. 2 and 3: Carolyn hosts two online judge training events. Carolyn wins the 2012 competition sweat equity and best results award. Serving as judging manager for 23 judges was a big job.
Dec. 8: Onsite consensus day in four virtual locations! (Photos tell the story) Three teams and a few other PA and NJ area judges met at Vertex, Inc. in Berwyn, PA. Vertex consistently supports STC with facility use, stellar volunteers from their workforce, and event leaders. The newly remodeled conference room had technology that allowed us to speak into integrated table-top speakers. At the conclusion of team consensus, all onsite and virtual judges collaboratively viewed entries to achieve consensus on Best of Show awards. I think this is the first example of virtual discussion, viewing, and Best of Show voting.
Dec. 9-Jan. 23: Competition managers continue to use email, phones, and moral support to encourage all judges to complete and submit their final entry assessment forms. The geographical diversity allowed more judges to serve, but also made a successful conclusion a difficult task.
Jan. 24: Today, I sit in awe of the effort that went into this competition. And we're not finished yet! I admire the entire team of chapter leaders, competition managers, judge team leads, judges, and volunteer site hosts for their stalwart participation and professional dedication.
It takes a village! In the 2013 Greater New York and Philadelphia Regional TechComm Competition case, it took two villages. Thank you everyone for your time and your talent.
am a judging team lead for the 2012-2013 Greater New York and
Philadelphia Regional TechComm Competition. I've been a judge for
several years and, to be honest with you, it is a great professional
development activity for all concerned. I expect that a potential
employer will think so as well.
You get the chance to participate in organising and carrying out a
rather complex event. If this is not good for your professional
expertise, I don't know what is. It takes almost an entire year from the
first planning session to the awards dinner, so you can get involved at
any time and in any way that suits.
If you are an entrant, you pay a fee and, for your investment, you get professional feedback from peers. You know where you stand. You have neutral people who are trained to represent the user tell you how your presentation comes across. Priceless?
We have technical communication managers who invest their employees’ works in our competition. They use the feedback to improve their standards and to show that they make a vital contribution to their organization. You can do the same as an individual contributor.
As a judge, I get to meet and work with other professionals in my field. My team this year is from New York USA, Connecticut USA, and Colorado USA. Of course, we all enjoy the chance to network, but there is more...
It is great to hear our unique perspectives on the entries we judge. I feel like I am a better-rounded evaluator of good technical communication for having heard their perspectives.
I enjoy getting a handle on technical works that are different from what I produce at my workplace. It's my chance to see what else goes on in our world and see the challenges that others face in effectively explaining their world to their customers.
We designed this year's event expecting it to cover the title locations. We have entries from all over the map and judges from all over the map.
We are becoming a known competition. You know, next year, this grand event could officially stretch all the way from New England to the Mid-Atlantic states of USA. And who knows where you might see entries from and meet colleagues from.