By: Thomas L. Armstrong, CPA, CFO, MSBO Board President, Business Manager, Fulton Public Schools
Have you ever attended an MSBO Leadership Conference? At the Leadership Conference, folks in leadership positions within MSBO help to plan the annual conference. Those leaders include current Board Members, Committee Chairs, and Regional Group Presidents. It is really something to see – folks from all over the state, young and old, new in the profession and long in the tooth. The attendees represent finance, facilities, food service, transportation, technology, and also includes MSBO staff. The group typically meets in November each year for about a day and a half. During that time they get some professional development, familiarity with next year’s conference city, and help to plan the conference.
The first Leadership Conference I attended years ago, was held in Detroit. At that time, all of the potential annual conference topics were written on sticky notes and the whole group discussed and voted on each topic. It was brutal! The crack MSBO staff changed the process shortly thereafter. In the new process, we were divided into small groups and each group discussed a reasonable list of potential topics. Each group reported out their discussion, topics to include or not include, to the entire leadership group. This was better, at least not brutal, but still not great. This year, again thanks to MSBO staff, we changed the process once again.
The Leadership Conference was held on November 12 and 13 In Grand Rapids this year. We had lunch, did some introductions, heard about the history of MSBO from Scott Little. We also took a short bus tour of Grand Rapids to scope out some new downtown hotels. Some of these new hotels will be added to the rooms available for our conference. Last, but not least, we helped to plan the conference.
This year, we broke into small groups, but the groups were organized by expertise. For instance, there was a technology group, a human resources group, three finance groups, and so on. Each group worked with a list of topics within their field of expertise. Instead of deciding which topics would be included, the groups assumed that all of the topics they were working with would be part of the conference. So, assuming that all of the topics would be included, what did the groups do? They wrote learning objectives for each conference topic. That is, specific objectives that the topic presenters will know that folks attending that session expect get from the presentation. The plan is to share those learning objectives with presenters and make sure the description can help attendees decide which sessions to choose.
What a great example of MSBO working to innovate and improve our annual conference. Last April we had over 1,600 folks attend at least one day of the conference. This year, I expect we will have even more than that. Thank you, so much, to the Leadership Conference participants for your help and I look forward to seeing you in Grand Rapids in April 2020.