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The role of the professional body

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Arras Peoples Benchmarking Report is always an interesting read, and theyve recently kicked off the 2011 survey. Their How to Manage a Camel blog recently drew out some of the information from the 2010 survey about professional bodies in project management.

54% of their respondents are not members of a professional body. This might appear high when mainstream professions like accountancy have near 100% membership. But its actually unusual for members of a professional body to be in the majority within their professional community. The Chartered Management Institute, for example, has 86,000 members amongst a total estimated 4.3 million managers in the UK. This equates to 2% penetration; if you consider this, then the fact that 46% of project managers are members of a professional body (the largest proportion of who are members of APM) this is pretty good going.

What is interesting from the report are the reasons why people arent members. These include no reason to join, too expensive and no tangible benefits. It seems there are some waiting for recognition and status to be delivered to them. I would argue that the professionals themselves have a major contribution to make in creating the valued profession we all want to see.

Yes, APM needs to provide value for money through its products and services to members and at 93% membership retention rate, I would argue that is successful in doing this. But, in addition, as a member, you become an asset to the profession as a whole rather than a lone beacon. Members work together to demonstrate the professions value, raising its profile, contributing and drawing from collective development and enhancing its status. There is no tangible member benefit offered by APM that doesnt benefit from the input of its members. Without them, the value would decrease significantly.

This is illustrated in things like the APM Body of Knowledge Refresh Programme, where more than 1,000 people have contributed to its development so far. In other words, the contribution of your experience and ideas pays you back by gaining the benefit of the collective wisdom of 999 others. Not a bad return on your investment.

In 2003, Barcelona football club, a membership organisation, ran a recruitment campaign with a simple message if you think were great with 100,000 members, imagine how wed be with twice as many. It drew on the fact that to achieve what everyone wants, then contributing is a key to the solution. Their membership has grown by 73%, and theyve won 4 domestic league titles, 2 Champions League titles and numerous other trophies. Plus, they are the most respected and admired club on the planet.

By reading this, you are probably already part of the engaged and, dare I say it, enlightened. But there is always more that can be done to raise the profile of the profession and communicate its value.


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