This year is unfolding at a rapid pace. We successfully closed our second year of growth in 2011, and we continue to stabilize and create operations that are more efficient. This is great news for the Society, as we need revenue to improve programs and add additional benefits for members.
The importance of this milestone can’t be understated. The Society is on a different path today versus two years ago. We have reversed the trend towards a gradual decline and have turned the Society onto a solid path towards a stronger, more effective society for the industrial design profession. Membership is growing, the programs are doing well, and we have started new initiatives. This growth has allowed us, for the first time in almost a decade, to be able to present a solid investment plan to the Board to begin the process of raising the quality of our membership benefits. We all know that this was long over due, but we were handcuffed by a lack of funds.
The priorities for 2012 are to invest in the IDEA program and IDSA’s digital infrastructure, the website. These investments are in agreement with IDSA’s strategic business plan to grow content, social media, partnerships and strengthen the Society’s infrastructure.
Two weeks ago, we moved the IDSA Headquarters to its new home in Herndon, VA, a few miles from the old office outside of Washington, DC. The new space is the last of our major restructuring initiatives of the past few years. With this move, we’ve reduced the rent, gained space for expansion and created a more collaborative workspace for the web team while shifting resources from our physical to our digital infrastructure.
Since my last update, we have hired three new staff members to strengthen our member relations, create content for IDSA.org and elevate the IDEA program.
We ran a very successful marketing campaign in China for IDEA 2012, where member Tracy Yang, I/IDSA doubled the number of entries this year through strategic social marketing on Weibo and Sina, the Chinese equivalents of Facebook and Twitter. In March we had a big stand at the Shanghai Appliance Show with presentations to the public and members such as Teams Design, HP, ChangHong and others promoting their services and winning products.
Innovation has published its sixth edition in Chinese. Circulation and advertising are growing in China, and many Chinese ID schools have subscribed to it.
This quarter marks another important milestone for us as our forums and content continue to gain momentum on Twitter and LinkedIn. They have now both passed the 12,000-member mark.
The District VPs, Kevin Shinn, Marco Perry, David Weightman, Chris Parke, Jason Morris, Stephan Clambaneva and Jeevak Badve (yes, there are seven as two are in transition) have been very busy the past few months preparing for the IDSA Design Dialogue Conferences. The IDSA Design Dialogue Conference name and branding has replaced the old IDSA District Conferences. We changed the name and branding of the conferences to reflect that we are working to make them more valuable for professionals as well as students and educators. Because the industrial design field is broad, we can’t cover all the topics in the annual International Conference.
Having five dialogues before the International Conference will allow us to deliver better targeted information and education to the profession. Over the past few years, we've changed the format of some of the conferences adding networking time to for professionals and students to mix and meet. In the Midwest, we used 20-minute sessions with great success last year, and it will be in this format again this year. Speakers (who give permission) are recorded and professionally edited for the website. Last year we published about 70 presentations and will do more this year. For every conference, three presentations will be available free to the public and all presentations will be available to members who sign into the website with their IDSA member logins.
Our connecting design to business advocacy program has gained steam through the K12 design and China initiatives.
We have visited China two more times meeting members of the Chinese industrial design community and government officials running the industrial design promotion activities in China. Read more in the CEO China update.
Doris Wells Papanek, IDSA has been working hard connecting with schools and teachers who are teaching design today. Doris has refined the Design Learning Challenge this year, and we have already doubled the number of teams participating in the 2012 challenge. Because we continue to discover schools that are teaching design, we will hold a panel session during the IDSA Education Symposium in August at the International Conference on the subject of teaching design to K12 to discuss how IDSA can support K12 teachers to have a more rigorous curriculum for their students. Our primary goal with this initiative is to ensure that all kids leaving school know what industrial design is and how it can help them create value. We also hope that this will create a workforce that is more informed about ID and willing to add industrial designers to their business teams in the future. The Board has committed to this long-term initiative.
Locally, the Atlanta and Northern Ohio Chapters, among others, have outreach programs where professionals go into schools to introduce ID to the students. The goal of the K12 initiative is to accelerate awareness of industrial design and with the Design Learning Challenge to give kids and their teachers an opportunity to try a design project to better understand the tools and methods used and the kind of outcomes that design can help them produce.
IDSA is its members. Together with the staff, we produce the programs that bring many opportunities for ID students, educators, professionals and affiliates to connect, network and learn. We look forward to meeting all of the members and working with you to develop the industrial design profession into an even stronger force for the good than it already is. In the ecosystem that is industrial design, your contributions and those of the staff are incredibly important to keep building on the shoulders of the industrial design giants who have gone before us to create a strong community and force for good in the world. This work is very satisfying and important, and we are all grateful to be a part of it. It is my sincere hope that you all share in this sentiment.
Membership is not always about what is in it for us personally, it is equally as much about what we can contribute to the growth of our profession.