The Global Expansion Committee of Women in Localization: Or the story of friendship, partnership and efficiency that took the world by storm!
About a year ago I replied to an email to volunteer at Women in Localization, a 4000 member organization. I wasn't particular about what I wanted to do, however, I knew I wanted to be part of this growing organization. I was intrigued, I wanted to see how they work as an all volunteer organization. How do they accomplish so much? Little did I know that I would end up having the time of my life with a group of amazing women, located all over the world, and that we would accomplish what is a really a big deal for an all volunteer organization.
We hardly knew each other, most of us had never worked together. Anna Schlegel, one of the Women in Localization founders, knew most of us and she organized our Committee, but as far as having cooperated, there was little of that in our past. And yet we hit it off. We are all friends now.
After a year of hard work, several successful Chapter launches and a lot of fun, we have some tips for our fellow Committee members and for all those groups around the world that suddenly sign up to work together! With this strong and incredible base we implemented our ideas across 12 global chapters. We established best practices for opening new chapters, we opened new chapters, we spent hours talking about our values, how to communicate, who would own tasks, and mapping our year ahead by quarter. We meant business. We had goals. We started by understanding the Mission of Women in Localization: “Foster a Global Community for the Advancement of Women and the Localization Industry.” With that guidance, we set out to work!
Toward the end of our first year together, we started thinking about what made our committee so special and what made it so easy for us to work together in a very effective way. Anna calls this our “secret sauce”. We thought we would share this with you!
Our Committee had several roles. An Executive Director, a Lead for Social Media, a Lead for Content, A Board Sponsor, and 3 Geo Managers. We stuck it out for 1 year, that is what we signed up for. We showed up to every single call.
Michele Smith, Executive Director of the Global Expansion Committee (GEC) thinks that the right people, strong organization, and clear communication were key to working like a “well oiled machine”. Michele noted that “It is important to pick a group of well-organized individuals because this is a volunteer position and you have to be able to manage your full-time job with the volunteer activities”.
Here we go. Got a pencil? We suggest copy and pasting this list and reviewing it with your own organization. See what you have in place. What I write below is what we thought made us successful, it may be food for thought, or just take it as our lessons learned!:
Leadership, Mission and Vision:
We had a Leader from the Board in our Committee to guide us. We had the mission for the organization. And together we created our own vision for our working group or Committee. We even spoke about our values.
We wanted to be very well organized. If your committee doesn’t have folks who like order, get someone to help and project manage it like a pro! Order helps, trust me. We defined all roles, and who would own what. We chose when to meet, the same time every 2 weeks for 1 year. We created a drive to collaborate and we cleaned it often. We had minutes after each meeting. We stopped each meeting 10 minutes early to review actions and make sure names were attached and the actions clear. We sent the meeting minutes as soon as the calls stopped. Clockwork. Rinse and Repeat. Secret Sauce. Not complex, doable. Not difficult, it’s the little things.
Well run meetings:
We had a WebEX for each call to collaborate, we had the same call-in number for the whole year, we called in on time, we showed the notes as we wrote them, yes, we talked and captured at the same time. Sometimes we even turned those video cameras on… Each meeting had an agenda compiled before the meeting. The agenda could be modified at the beginning of the meeting. We knew how to move topics forward.
We spoke a lot about how to communicate. With 4000 members, and 12 global sites we had to map this out. How will we communicate, who will talk to what country? Who will talk to the Board? Who will talk to the other Committees?
Positive collaboration with accountability is what we defined. We all brought in our ideas, our skills but we were all ready to learn, compromise and step back if necessary. In other words, it was clear to all of us that we were all committed to seeing the organization grow in a positive and productive way. And if our name was attached to something, we did it. Active listening was key. If we didn’t understand we clarified.
We mapped it. What do we want to do each quarter? We looked at that all the time, we said it, we did it. We had a table that mapped our goals, and each row had an owner. Divide and conquer! That was our star. When we wanted to add, we calmed each other down. No no, no more! We knew what we had to achieve.
How are you today? Are you ready to share? Who needs help?
On a more personal note, although we did not know each other much before starting to work together on the committee, I always felt that there was profound respect for each other and this is the basis for any sustainable relationship. I learned a lot. If we did it, so can you! We now love to hang out together... and because of that base, we can now do even more!
Find your tribe! Signing off for now… On Behalf of: Anna, Michele, Kristin, Maria and Ceci…
Valeria Barbero (Proud Member of the Global Expansion Committee of Women in Localization.)