If you are interested in the process of re-inventing the RSA (250-years old, 26,000 members), there are a few places left for the OpenRSA meeting next Monday - details here. A group of us are meeting to add an outside-in contribution to the vision of chief executive Matthew Taylor for the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce, which was originally started in the coffee houses of Covent Garden. Matthew wants to remake it as a network for civic innovation, with a strong emphasis on the use of social media to help members (know as Fellows) work together and with staff.
Matthew is inviting about 250 Fellows to an all-day event on November 22 to discuss and plan the way forward for the RSA. On Monday a couple of dozen of us are gathering for a warm-up to talk about what Fellowship can offer - and what it might mean in practice to work together on social action projects. Matthew is popping in to provide encouragement, and the RSA is buying the lunch and helping pay some costs.
I think the process of re-inventing the RSA may offer some interesting lessons for other membership-based organisations. As people make greater use of social media to find others with similar interests, organisations will have to work harder to show why it is worth paying a subscription. If members don't get a good deal, they can use the Net to organise.
My initial interest in the idea of OpenRSA was to press for a more open process, and greater engagement with Fellows. It's early days, but it looks as if we'll get that without any need for member-pressure. As Malcolm Forbes - who set up the OpenRSA Facebook group - put it, we are inventing from the outside in, and the inside out.