Letter from the President - June 2018

Earlier this spring, the Washington Post published its “Spring Cleaning” list—10 things they think we’d all be better without. (Nominees included sit-ups, open offices, replay review, and homework.) Ordinarily, I’m all for decluttering, but you can’t just toss things or discard traditions willy-nilly. You need to look at them and see what purpose they serve before you can decide if they’re worth keeping.

And what AUGI tradition did this article remind me of? Our annual spring meeting! Historically, the Board of Directors meets monthly by phone and twice a year in person—at AU in the fall and at an Autodesk office (usually San Francisco) in the spring.

You may be wondering, with all the technology available to us these days, whether it’s still necessary to meet face-to-face. I think it is, and here’s why.

Spontaneous Personal Interactions. You’re probably familiar with the “water cooler effect,” even if your office doesn’t have a literal water cooler. Contrary to the appearance of “wasting time,” time spent chatting with colleagues can often have a positive impact on morale and productivity. If you’ve ever gotten a helpful tip from a coworker while discussing a problem by the coffee machine or offered advice of your own after overhearing team members talking in the break room, you’ve benefited from the water cooler effect... and it only works if you’re all in the same place.

On-boarding New Directors. Every year there are new members elected to the Board, and while sometimes they’re returning to serve another term, often they’ve never been on the Board before. During the first few months of their term, they get to know us somewhat during our regular calls, but it’s still no substitute for an actual introduction. Meeting in person is the opportunity to put faces with names, and see what people are like outside a conference call setting.

More Efficient Agendas. The Board of Directors is composed entirely of volunteers with day jobs. We all bring the best we can to our calls, but it can be difficult to switch gears after a long day at the office (or in the middle of it, depending on the Director’s time zone). When we meet in San Francisco, we have two-and-a-half solid days to work together and focus on the task at hand. Having this concentrated block of time allows us to have more extended conversations, or to leave a topic for a while and come back to it, without having to reset our focus each time.

We weren’t able to meet in person last spring, and I really missed it. But we were back this year, and better than ever!

We structured this year’s agenda to take advantage of the fact that we would be in the same building as several of our Autodesk partner teams—everything I said above about the value of face-to-face meetings for the Board applies to external relationships as well, of course. Over the course of our day and a half at One Market, we met with people from Expert Elite, AutoCAD Q/A, User Research, Forge, Community, Autodesk Knowledge Network, and of course Autodesk University. These were really great conversations with people working on really great things—it’s exciting to see the direction a lot of these projects are taking, and I’m looking forward to finding new ways for AUGI and Autodesk to partner that can benefit us all.

On Saturday, we had a full day with just the Board and Management Team to talk about the state of the organization and what we hope to accomplish in the coming year. I don’t have room to describe all the initiatives we discussed, but stay tuned... we hope to have some exciting announcements later this year!

It’ll be hard to wait until AU Las Vegas to see all of these terrific people—and hopefully many of you!—but I think the time will pass quickly. You can make it go faster by putting in a proposal to speak at AU... there are still a couple weeks to go in the Call for Proposals! (Hint, hint.) It’d be great to see the speaker list just packed with AUGI members.

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