Purpose of this document
This document describes SIETAR Europa Special Interest Groups (SIGs). It explains the purpose of SIGs, the possible structure of a SIG, and how SIGs should be established and run. More details on the process for creating a SIG can be found here
Many professional organisations sub-divide their activities into smaller specialised areas to be managed by a group of members who have an interest in a topic. Wikipedia has this definition:
“A Special Interest Group (SIG) is a community within a larger organization with a shared interest in advancing a specific area of knowledge, learning or technology where members cooperate to affect or to produce solutions within their particular field, and may communicate, meet, and organize conferences.”
Why should SIETAR Europa have SIGs?
Most SIETAR Europa members are currently aligned principally with the National SIETAR organisation to which they belong with Direct Members distributed across various geographies.
The creation of SIGs which would be Europe wide and open to all members allows for an alternative alignment of members and networks. SIGs also allow members to address topics of interest across all entities. (See Addendum A below on SIGs and National SIETARs)
SIGs in SIETAR
While there have been groups within SIETAR that informally cooperated to look at specific topics there is no structure within SIETAR to allow members to establish a SIG or for members to join a SIG. SIETAR needs to have mechanisms to formally recognise SIGs and to make visible to all members the existence of SIGs. The actual establishment, organisation and running of a SIG should be done entirely by members. SIETAR Europa should have no role in the creation of SIGs but should have some mechanism for recognising SIGs (see below)
SIG Leaders Forum
SIETAR Europa will establish a forum where leaders of all SIGs and meet on a regular basis to compare organisation issues and ideas. This forum will act to support each other and look for best practice.
What a SIG should have:
- Clearly defined subject of interest – as far as possible not overlap or duplicate the work of other SIGs. However, SIGs can of course work together where there are relevant links between topics.
- Members. Every SIG should of course have members but there is no limit as to how small or how large the group should be. The group should define what the role of a member is and what expectations there are of members. While this document discusses SIGs within SIETAR Europa it is believed that membership of a SIG should be open to members of all SIETARs worldwide.
- A leader and ‘management’ team. These are the people who ensure things happen and communicate to the rest of SIETAR about the SIG. How that group is structured is up to that SIG to suit their needs.
- Communication plan/strategy: For example, a website, mailing strategy, LinkedIn group and social media sites if appropriate. Some communications must be created by the Communications Committee to ensure continuity of ownership and compliance with SIEAT Europa standards. The following tools will be set up by the Communications Committee on request:
- MailChimp Account
- Website template – content to be added by SIG members
- LinkedIn Discussion Group
- Facebook page
- Twitter account
Note that the MailChimp account is mandatory, because of GDPR requirements, as is the Website (in WordPress)
Other communication tools such as Slack or WhatsApp can be created and managed solely by the SIG members as required. However, all tools used by the SIG should be notified to the Communications Committee. (See details in “Creating a SIG”)
Purpose, Objectives, Procedures, Principles, Roles.
- Purpose should clearly define why the SIG exists.
- Objectives could be things the group wants to achieve e.g. conferences etc. and could be time based.
- Procedures could include the process whereby the leadership team is changed, what publications the group produces, often meetings take place etc. In particular the process for members to join and leave the SIG should be clearly defined and meet all data protection standards. Some procedures, such as the membership procedure, should be the same for ALL SIGs in SIETAR Europa
- Principles are decisions about how the group is run. For example, that the members communicate knowledge and ideas individually and the leadership team’s role is to monitor and disseminate information. Another principle could be that the SIG will not make statements on behalf of the members.
- Roles need to be defined – for example the SIG leader. Is there a role of ‘communications lead’ i.e. a person who monitors and collates the information generated by the members?
How will SIGs be recognised by SIETAR Europa?
Please refer to the section on “Creating a SIG”
Who can join a SIG?
Anyone who is a member of SIETAR anywhere in the world can join a SIG. While SIGs described here are SIETAR Europa bodies, we do not want to exclude other SIETAR organisation’s members.
Where should SIGs come from?
It is expected that SIGs will be created by members. In other words, their creation should be driven by member needs. While other bodies, such as committees or boards, may wish to initiate the creation of a SIG where there is a perceived need, the long-term success of any SIG is more likely if it is member driven.
SIGs should be seen as a way to increase member activity and interest in addition to increasing knowledge of specific topics. There may also be opportunities to create a publication process for SIETAR Europa on the SIG topics of interest.
SIGs and National SIETARs
While SIGs are generally designed as a forum for topic discussion it has been proposed that a SIG might be a way to decide if a National SIETAR is viable – a prelude to creating a full SIETAR organisation. In countries where there are insufficient members to create a formal National SIETAR a Special Interest Group for that country could be formed. Take the case of Bulgaria for example, the former members could, while remaining as Direct Members, reform as a SIG on Bulgaria. “National” SIG created this way could in time grow into fully fledged National SIETARs.
Current SIGs – either formed or in the process of forming
Other SIGs proposed but not yet formed
- Diversity and Inclusion
By Joe Kearns