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Presidents Message September 2008
Beyond auto pilot
By Robert Bruce
 
Creating an electronic version of your committee’s procedures is an important  way of passing knowledge on to the next generation.
 
M
any of the things we do within STLE are somewhat repetitive in nature—planning a budget, helping new committee members understand how their groups function, teaching new officers to be leaders, setting dues and fees, etc.

All of these must be done on a yearly basis, but the procedure does not necessarily have to be reinvented each year. Many established procedures have served us well, with the society making adjustments when necessary.

From time to time procedures are lost, committee bylaws are forgotten and a lot of time is spent reconstituting what is gone. That is probably not our favorite activity and, in the communication age, unnecessary. Bylaws for local sections, technical committees/industry councils, operating manuals for committees and sections all can be stored electronically at STLE’s Chicago headquarters. I encourage those of you involved with committees, sections and councils to dust off your procedures, review them and send an electronic copy to headquarters as soon as you have confirmed the existing copy or agreed upon a revision.

STLE’s recently completed Operating Manual for Local Sections is now available. The manual, compiled with the help of a number of STLE regional vice presidents and headquarters staff, represents the best of their combined learning for each local section to use at its discretion.

STLE officers are privileged to represent the membership. As part of this responsibility, we are obligated to share what we learn and accomplish with those who are coming behind us. If you are active in any STLE service, I hope someone showed you the ropes and gave you advice.

Communicating that knowledge to the next generation is easiest done in writing. Easiest because we generally do not have as much time to spend with our STLE colleagues as we would like. We also do not stay in the same position and location as long and seldom overlap with the next generation. Please review the Operating Manual for your activity. If you cannot find one, ask headquarters for a template and just start writing down what your responsibility is, what you do, when and how you do it. Your offering might not win a Pulitzer Prize, but a person new to the job will look at it as a gold mine.

Many years ago my employer sent me as its representative to STLE’s Nonferrous Industry Council (NIC). The NIC wanted to do a lot of innovative things, and it became necessary to examine our bylaws to determine what we could and could not do. We ended up rewriting the manual. This was not an easy task but one that certainly was worthwhile and contributed to the success of our group.

Ever since that experience, I have been reading, writing or rewriting bylaws and operating manuals. Drafting a document that the entire group agrees on, one that can bring a new member up to speed in a short time, is a very rewarding experience.

These kinds of tasks lay the groundwork for doing new things and focusing on the future, while the once-a-year business is on auto pilot.
 
Bob Bruce is principal engineer, tribology, at GE Aircraft Engines in Cincinnati. You can reach him at robert.w.bruce@ae.ge.com.
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