The small conversation is about software. It’s about the tools you use to do the work. When you talk about abstract management in terms of software, you limit the conversation to an “it works” or “it doesn’t work” narrative.
A conversation about software “working” or “not working” is purely tactical. Tactics are important – they help us complete tasks. But tactics don’t advance your organization’s mission. Tactics don’t build strong relationships. Tactics don’t create enduring value for your membership. In other words, tactics are not an end game. Tactics aren’t why your organization exists. Tactics aren’t what attracted you and your members to join in the first place.
So, let’s assume your abstract management software “works” and your authors are being managed and your reviewers are staying on schedule. Let’s also assume the lights are on in your office, the elevator works, and the coffee in the break room is hot. The minimal requirements have been met. Let the work begin.
There are a lot of abstract management solutions to choose from out there and they should all meet the minimal standard: they should all “work.” And, by the way, even if your solution is as simple as a spreadsheet and some cloud storage, it probably “works.”
“Working” isn’t enough.
The big conversation is about strategy – it’s about your mission and your membership, and how you grow both.
What’s your conference plan for the next five years? That’s a strategic question, the answer to which probably won’t include the words such as “software,” “abstracts,” and “reviews.” It will, however, include words such as “growth,” “revenue,” “membership,” and “mission.”
You may be working, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, to manage abstracts and reviewers. And that’s a good thing. You need to be there every day, doing the work. But, hopefully, that tactical work lives in the context of a larger strategy that every member of your team understands.
When you start looking at tasks, roles, projects and – yes – software as tactical vs. strategic, you can’t help but think about the greater mission and the strategy it will take to support it. That’s the new conversation.
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