virtual committees

by Sheldon Wolfe, CSI, CCS, CCCA

don't sit around complaining because we aren't technical enough anymore

Until a couple of years ago, chapter technical committees were involved with a variety of technical documents, many of which were used by Institute. There is no longer a structured way for members or chapters to have meaningful input in the creation or maintenance of CSI technical documents.

The SpecGUIDE program was the last to go, preceded by CSI's involvement in SpecText. Both died for a variety of reasons; SpecGUIDEs because they were irrelevant, SpecText for political reasons. Before SpecGUIDE and SpecText many chapters produced technical monographs. The Mpls.-St. Paul Chapter was a major source of documents, many of them coming from former member Dick Bastyr, FCSI, CCS, now treasurer and editor for the La Crosse Chapter.

In many ways, the good old days really were. The lack of useful documents provided fertile ground for authors, and the adrenaline that is often found in young, rapidly growing organizations made participation exciting, useful, and satisfying. We now have more information than we can digest, while the organization seems to be suffering the effects of old age, with slower reaction times and a more conservative way of life.

So what's a poor technical committee to do? Believe it or not, we are still working on technical documents, improving those we have, and developing new ones that will establish new standards for the construction industry. All of these projects are so complex and time sensitive that they can no longer be done in the same way. We simply don't have time to let chapters try to complete the work on a meet-once-a-month schedule. Everything moves so fast today that we have no choice but to hire outside consultants who commit to a tight schedule.

You can still participate, though, if you are really interested. CSI has a list of corresponding members who volunteer to review new programs and documents as individuals, rather than as committees. All Institute committees regularly send review documents out to corresponding members, compile the responses, and pass them on to the authors. It may not be quite as much fun as meeting for rolls and coffee, but it is an amazingly efficient way to gather input from a variety of sources.

If you are interested in technical documents, send me an e-mail or call Institute. We aren't going to beg, 'cause we're just too darn busy. But we will take the time to answer your questions, and we will be happy to add you to the list of reviewers. So don't sit around complaining because we aren't technical enough anymore - get involved!

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1998, Sheldon Wolfe

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