CEO Update Q3, 2019: Everything's the Same, but Different

Read about SEGD's continuous upward progress in the latest CEO Update by Clive Roux

And don't we all know it?

This has been an interesting quarter defined by the term "change is our only constant." As a designer by training and probably a lot like you, I would not want it any other way. We believe that you can always improve. It is what we do. However...

The challenge comes in knowing what great bones look like and what values need to remain instead of simply sweeping away the great work of those who have come before us. SEGD's membership has swung from mainly Baby Boomers to mainly Millennials in the past 5 years and we are embracing the future while trying to maintain the values that SEGD stands for: a very friendly, welcoming and helpful community of professionals more than willing to share information and successful ways of working with each other. We've had a healthy discussion among the Fellows about recognition of those who are moving the profession forward and striking the right balance between exclusivity and recognition this quarter. The conversation will continue more formally in the next board meeting in November.

Looking back to gain perspective.

Along with that discussion came some really interesting information about SEGD's history and while not in the habit of looking backward much, I do fully understand the value of a historical context. Thank you, Rich Burns, one of our co-founders for the snapshot of our early years.

Here are a few little nuggets about the early years that I found interesting:

  • There were five people present at the first Annual Meeting in 1973.
  • The first Annual Conference, held in 1980 at Cranbrook, was attended by about 100 people. 509 people attended the 2019 SEGD Conference Experience Austin.
  • It took about 10 years for the membership to pass the 100-mark. Nowadays, we are gaining about 100-200 members a year and membership is at 2,200+
  • The conference brought in about $20,000 and was just as important then, in making SEGD possible as it is today. With $20,000 in the bank from the conference, Rich offered Sarah Speare an opportunity to work as SEGD's first Executive Director.
  • In 1994, Jack Biesek devoted an article in Techtalk, one of SEGD's publications, to explain what e-mail was and how it could help members. Well, you know how that has gone. Today digital platforms allow us to communicate too well over 500,000 people a year.


What is email by Jack Biesek


We have built up greater resources now and have more staff to build a strong professional base for you, but the struggle, it seems, really has not changed that much. Just the scale of what we are trying to achieve. It is fascinating to read the early history, which we will publish for you shortly, but much more satisfying to know that our founders are, for the most part, still involved in SEGD and their spirit is still alive and well and there, in the background guiding us. This is especially true in the way that they thought of SEGD as a necessary platform for sharing ideas, ways of working, professional knowledge and contacts for the good of all. We strive to maintain those values, while fully embracing the new opportunities that digital technologies offer us in delivering ever more value and usefulness to our members in more convenient and efficient ways.

While most associations have not grasped the opportunities to create new value for their members digitally, SEGD has fully embraced these technologies. We now deliver at least 10x the cost of membership in digital value per member. That is not to say that every member understands that or realizes it—that is a communication and education challenge for us—but the value is there and we continue to improve on that foundation.

Podcasts updated.

One small example of this is the work that we have completed this past quarter to upgrade our podcast courses and training materials. Take a look at the store at what is available.

In order to underpin the growth and competence of the profession with a solid foundation, SEGD needs to have in place solid professional training materials and information for those who want to continue to learn and grow professionally. This is a major multi-year undertaking that is happening in phases. This quarter saw us reach the end of phase 2, with at least another 4 rounds to go. Phase 2 wrapped up with the completion of the updates to the materials we already have.

The main challenge we've had was that the materials were created without an overarching plan/system in mind. Or rather, there was a system (the work of the Education Committee to create a set of Core Competencies for EGD) that was never really tied into the creation of new content from the events and webinars. This is now happening.

Under Christina Lyons's leadership, the Academic Task Force is working to help bring the structure and rigor needed to create solid training guides or workbooks for the profession and educators who would like to introduce EGD courses into their own programs. If you have not seen them, take a look at the seven Workbooks and over 120 Podcast Courses available on

While not (yet) the most visual form of the progress we are making, this is vital work we need to undertake to enable real growth for EGD and build the next pool of valuable on-line knowledge for all members.

Are you booked for Xlab yet?

If not, I strongly recommend that you attend. Jim Gilmore, the co-author of the very successful book, "The Experience Economy" is a friend and supporter of Experiential Graphic Design and will be presenting his big-picture vision of how we fit into the rapidly growing experience Economy. Gilmore and Pine's hypothesis in 1998 was that the world's developed economies were starting to shift from selling products and services to selling experiences. Today over 50% of Millennials already say that they would rather buy an experience than a product or service.

Experiential Graphic Design is in the sweet spot of how to create value in this emerging economy. Come and hear Gilmore explain what that means for you at Xlab.

Not an SEGD member yet?

If you are not an SEGD member yet, please consider joining SEGD. We offer the best value of any design organization. SEGD is a vibrant community of professionals who have an event somewhere in the world every 2.4 days and we represent the community of professionals on the cutting edge of creating value in the new experience economy.

If you are completely new to SEGD Join at half price today to experience what we have to offer.



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Upcoming SEGD Events

2023 Careers in Experiential Design
2023 Wayfinding and Placemaking
2023 Experience Washington D.C.