Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Success of an Organization

You have heard the saying, “an organization is only as good as its people.”  As we attempt to evaluate the success of our NSF-funded REMAST Scholarship Program, we keep coming back to “it’s all about the people.” 

Last week we had our 5th annual REMAST Summer Conference.  As always, it was a lot of fun and a huge success.  Every year it is a lot of work, but when it comes together, it is so worth it.  It truly is two of my favorite days of the summer because I get to spend it with awesome people.  Again, it goes back to the people!
As I sat listening to our outside evaluator ask questions of a focus group of alumni, I realized something that I had never thought about before.  One of the alumni said, “Getting selected for REMAST meant that they believed in me.”  I have no idea why I hadn’t thought about that before—the fact that someone picked you as part of their group means they believe in you! 

The power of someone believing in you makes you more successful.  This seems like such a simple idea, but it also seems like more organizations need to embrace the idea.   And it isn’t just about stacking your organization with lots of successful people—it is about building relationships amongst those people.

Last week, whether the participants realized it or not, the REMAST conference focused on building relationships.  The first day, participants drew a playing card to see which table they would sit at (thanks to Dr. Nepal for that great idea).  And then the tables were tasked (thanks to the South Dakota Innovation Lab) to build a tower out of an unlimited number of notecards and 12 inches of masking tape. The second day, participants were organized into teams for the Campus Scavenger Hunt.  I purposely put together the teams in a way so that they would have one new REMAST scholar, and one or two alumni.  I also tried to make is so that there was at least one science person in each group. 

I hope the result of the conference was the new scholars feeling like they fit in, the alumni feeling like they belong, and everyone feeling like we are family.  We are in education for the long haul, we are in it together, and we believe in each other.  Those are the successes of the REMAST Scholarship Program.
Ryan having fun while measuring.

Liz and Mark working to make their tower the tallest.

Jessica, Brendan, and Cindy on the Scavenger Hunt.