Why isn’t STC at ASTD?

June 4, 2007

The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) is holding its conference here in Atlanta this week. One of the exhibitors sent me a badge so that I could visit the Exposition Hall. This morning I drove down to the Georgia World Congress Center to check out the booths. I hope we hold the STC conference there in 2009 because it’s a beautiful facility! My pass entitled me to a free lunch, so I reviewed the exhibitor list carefully as I munched my grilled chicken ceasar.

ASTD is a larger, wealthier organization than STC, and it’s about 10 years older as well. The cost of joining is only slightly higher than STC, but their big bucks come from their programs and sponsors. High-powered corporate trainers are likely to be members as well as instructional designers, HR people, and technical trainers. I’m providing this context so that you’ll understand why they had about 5 times as many exhibitors as we did at the STC Summit in Minneapolis.

As I paged through the exhibitor list, I noticed several professional organizations including PMI, the American Society for Quality, and the Society for Human Resource Management. Where was STC? Technical trainers today must be good technical communicators, obviously. They would benefit from membership in STC as much as they do from ASTD. ASTD has a more technical conference that they hold in January each year. STC should be an exhibitor there, too. For that matter, shouldn’t we have invited these organizations to exhibit at the STC Summit? 

STC is still suffering from Tina-the-tech-writer syndrome — a rigid, insular view of who we are and where we stand in relation to others. I plan to write a note to the Society about this. Our strategic goals include more marketing as well as partnering with other organizations and ASTD offered an opportunity to do both. By participating in the events of other organizations, we can learn a lot.

Eventually, it would be nice to work out a sister organization program or partnership. Here’s how it could work: if you are a member of STC, you could also join ASTD, PMI, or a similar professional organization at 1/2 price (or something like that). We could provide discounts to each other’s conferences and programs as well. Maybe it’s a pipe dream, but it could benefit everyone if it was handled correctly.