Thursday, April 17, 2014

New & Improved Valid Strategy for Associations & Nonprofits

I grew up somewhat cynical of advertising claims for “new and improved” products. They seemed phony ... somewhat like the “wait, there’s more” claims on cable tv ads.
I thought about this as my wife and I were shopping for accessories for our new home the other day. This included one store that we have visited several times and from which we have purchased several items.

After leaving this time, my wife remarked, “I was disappointed. It didn’t seem as though they had any new items. Everything seems to be in the same place.”

This led to a discussion about “new and improved.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

When it comes to change, is your association board pro-active?

Is this one of your board members?
Following Sunday’s Master’s Tournament, USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan wrote a stinging column about the lack of action to stem the bleeding in the game of golf:
  • The game of golf is in serious trouble, but it has little to do with the aging of Tiger Woods.
  • Every year, as many as 1 million participants decide to stop playing golf. Their reasons? It's too expensive. It takes too long. It's too hard. It's too elitist.
  • The recession of 2008 hit the game particularly hard, with stuffy country clubs doing the unthinkable: reducing fees and practically begging people to join. But golf's leaders otherwise have been stunningly slow to react, and they have their reasons. What they must do to make their game more appealing to prospective new players will alter – and perhaps destroy – what they love most about the game.
  • Golf will never be as accessible and inexpensive as sports such as tennis, basketball and soccer. But it can do much more than it has so far to welcome new players, if only its leaders decide to truly grow the game rather than keep it the way it always has been.
Over the last 35 years, I’ve witnessed many associations paralyzed by the fear of change. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Old Fashioned Tool May Boost Association Communications.

Drinks on the Driveway
Our neighborhood has a “drinks in the driveway” gathering every other Friday afternoon. It’s a great way for neighbors to stay in touch.

The social committee promotes the event (including time and the driveway hosts) via email, notice on the website and sign at the street entrances.

For the last two events, the social committee chair has been away. As a result, the signs have not been posted at the neighborhood entrance.

Interestingly, participation in the events dropped dramatically.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Long Tail of Association Content and Social Media

Back in 2006, Chris Anderson wrote a powerful book called the Long Tail.

In it, he defined the Long Tail, in a nutshell  as ...
  • The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of "hits" (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare. The Long Tail book is about the big-picture consequence of this: how our economy and culture is shifting from mass markets to million of niches.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Associations & Nonprofits: Big Boards. Big Bureaucracy. Big Problems?

Some time ago, I met an association executive who talked about her “committee on committees” as a tool to get a handle on the bureaucracy within her board of directors.

I spent 15 years as an association executive at a large (200 staff, $40+ million budget) national association. (Keep in mind, this was in the “pre-internet” era.) As much as we tried to avoid it, staff size and board size (two boards totaling 89 directors) became a bureaucracy.

  • The boards each had executive committees (which met jointly).
  • Each board had its own committees.
  • The staff was organized into seven “departments.” Each had a “matching” board committee.
I recently wrote about a colleague who had 274 board members on his national association board of directors.  He talked about how his association had to “bypass” the bylaws to help overcome its inability to make decisions with such a large board of directors.

All this reminded me of what is happening at General Motors, a major corporation known for its complex management structure.