What Establishing Alumni X-Teams Can Achieve

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by Joe McGonegal, Director of Alumni Education, MIT

We need to reshape a 19th-century alumni office to meet the demands of a 21st-century audience.

"Alumni associations were rendered obsolete by Facebook and have since been dying a slow death."

"Why get off my couch on a weeknight to connect with fellow alumni from college, one of a dozen institutions to which I have some faint sense of allegiance?

"Given the amount of virtual networking to be done, why connect IRL (in real life) at all?"

The answer to these loaded questions is the reason my job in alumni relations still exists. We still crave a live networking event, seminar, or raucous public debate. Alumni associations, for hundreds of years the conveners of such events, aren’t going anywhere.

But I don’t rest easy, nor should my peers in alumni associations the world round, even those of us at the most elite institutions of higher learning. To meet these demands, we must form “x-teams” – cross-functional teams from various verticals in an organization who share a common goal.

X-teams in advancement shops must be students of the marketplace, audience, and the whimsical trends among students, alumni, faculty, and the public. Taking a page from the best tech companies out there, I now look for colleagues who share an x-team mentality – for collaborating on tests that can nimbly sink or scale within a quarter’s time.


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