Getting it together

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how the Professional Convention Management Association is developing a set of core competencies and a self-assessment tool for its planner members.

Then this week, Meeting Professionals International made an announcement about its Career Pathways program, which was launched a year and a half ago:

    "MPI's career pathways program will define a standardized classification for distinct levels of professional meeting and event management competencies; identify critical knowledge; design and share pathways for growth from one level to the next; and provide tools and resources for meeting professionals to build skills and achieve career aspirations. Career pathways will culminate in MyCareer@MPI on MPIWeb (www.mpiweb.org) where members will complete profiles, take assessments and receive career development guidance. Technology will be combined with a human touch through a call center, mentoring program, professional coaching services and portfolio reviews."

I'm not sure who came up with the idea first, but they seem to be on a similar timetable: Both MPI's and PCMA's programs are on target for a 2005 launch.

While I applaud both organizations for their work in this much-needed direction, it seems like there was a lot of duplication of effort going on in the development of these very similar-sounding programs. I understand that they are competitive and don't always operate in a culture that allows free communication between the two organizations, but in this case, seems to me both MPI and PCMA could have saved themselves some time and money by working in tandem on this area to develop a program that would benefit all meeting planners, regardless of their professional affiliation.

Then again, as John Lennon sang, "People say I'm a dreamer..."

Or maybe not. When I interviewed PCMA head David Kushner when he first got the job, he emphasized collaboration between the various industry organizations: “You can't operate an organization in isolation,” he said. “Yes, each organization is doing very good work. But think of how the work could be even better when we share our resources.” When I interviewed MPI CEO and president Colin Rorrie shortly after his appointment, he stated similar goals: "Our philosophy is to look beyond simply the internal structure of MPI, to look externally to see what kinds of partnerships we can put together to benefit our members and others."

And they are collaborating in several areas. For example, the MPI and PCMA Foundations are talking to one another about joint initiatives, including multiculturalism and women-in-the-industry initiatives. It's just too bad that they didn't pool their resources on this one.

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