The Art of Learning From the Peers Among You

Security Sales & Integration

The Big Idea with Ron Davis
May, 2012

The Art of Learning From the Peers Among You

Don Wilkins Jr.If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month’s great idea comes from Don Wilkins Jr., who is president of Louisiana Life Safety & Security Association (LLSSA).
Wilkin’s great idea:
Keep an open ear, and an open mind, to understand philosophies of the experienced, forward-thinking individuals who contribute to the alarm industry.

Along with serving as president of Louisiana Life Safety & Security Association (LLSSA), Don Wilkins Jr., is a special systems engineer for Facility Automation Inc. in Baton Rouge, La. As mentioned in last month’s column, I was recently a guest speaker at the LLSSA winter meeting where I spent some time with Wilkins discussing the association, as well as the future of the industry.
When I pursued Wilkins’ great idea, he paused for a moment, saying, “Well, it’s not earth-shattering.” Take a moment to review his idea. He said he became actively involved in LLSSA, not simply to share his own ideas, but mostly because it afforded him the opportunity to hear and learn from the legions of other successful alarm industry pros.
I have some news for Wilkins. His great idea really is thought provoking because it comes from someone whose first concept of belonging to an industry association is one of participation, rather than singular leadership. Allow me to explain. Most of the industry executives I speak to tell me they join associations and participate primarily to “give back” to the industry. It’s their way of paying their dues.
Wilkins, on the other hand, has taken a different tack. He’s in that role primarily to become “actively involved” in not just the association, but with all of the thinkers and people who he comes in contact with during the time he spends on association business. Wilkins’ approach, and his professionalism, has earned him a great deal of respect. I heard it firsthand from LLSSA members at the meeting, including the State Fire Marshal I sat with during the luncheon.
To emphasize Wilkins’ approach, here’s an interesting concept summed up in this simple parable: If I give you a dollar, and you give me a dollar, all we’ve done is exchange dollars. However, if I give you an idea and you give me an idea, we both grow immeasurably!
The sharing of ideas and philosophies in a positive environment, such as an association meeting, allow members and executives to freely share information about their companies and business management practices. In a unique way, it’s a kind of force multiplier.
Give and Take
Here is an idea you might try at your next association meeting; see if you have some fun with it: Everyone should come to the meeting with an idea that they would like to share. If the group is small enough, have each person spend a minute or two just sharing the idea with no discussion. You’ll all know if the ideas were good by how many people were taking notes. If they’re great, you’ll see people in the audience not only taking notes, but nodding their heads positively and smiling. 
An association gathering can be a marvelous exchange for not only ideas and theories, but for philosophical expressions of your core beliefs about the industry. Try it at your next meeting, or if you’d like, just try it with a friend at lunch sometime. You might eventually hook up with people who get together for nothing but idea exchanges.
The beauty of it is that everyone grows as a result. I think Wilkins knew this when he shared his great idea with me, and frankly, I do find it “earth-shattering.”

Ron DavisRon Davis is Security Sales & Integration‘s “What’s the Big Idea?” columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Group, a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates Int’l in the 1980s.