Thursday, October 30, 2014

Replicating Association Success

Is your association still looking for the silver bullet?

Over the years, I’ve watched many associations constantly changing their programs and services ... on a continuous search for the “silver bullet.”

Makes me think of a Seth Godin quote:

“Highlighting what's working helps you make that happen more often.”

Godin’s advice parallels research that Chip and Dan Heath share in their book Switch:
  • They found that “finding the bright spots” and replicating them helps lead to change.
This seems to be great advice for associations ... especially those with successful programs or services.

For example, the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its hugely successful Trees for Troops cause marketing program through which Christmas tree farmers donate farm-grown Christmas trees to military members. And, FedEx Freight delivers those trees to military families at bases around the U.S. and in war zones. While the Foundation has “tweeked” the program each year, they have maintained it and have now provided Christmas memories for more than 10,000 military families.

What is your association or non-profit doing to replicate successful programs or services?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Asking the right questions key association success

Earlier this year an association executive called to ask for my help in developing a member discovery project to help the association develop strategies for impending generational changes in its membership.

While I frequently speak on generational differences and/or refer association executives to the work of Sarah Sladek, this question suggests the association needs to focus on what it is asking and who it is asking.
  • The first step: Ask the right questions
  • The second step: Talk with a representative sample of the different generations
  • The third step: Probe beyond the obvious ... keep asking “what else?” If you stop asking too soon, you’ll only get predictable answers.
Through it all, try to avoid skewing the results with your own biases.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Taking Time Off Benefits You and Others

“If only we’d stop trying to be happy, we’d have a pretty good time.” Edith Wharton

I mostly took the weekend off ... which puts me behind in my writing. But, it was worth it!

It started Saturday morning when my wife and I volunteered to help the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida 5K walk here at Pelican Preserve ... nearly 500 people participated. It was a fund-raiser for child abuse and foster children.

Our “job” was to serve as the “traffic cops” at the main intersection in our community ... pointing the walkers in the right direction and keeping vehicles from hitting anyone.

My wife spotted someone who needed help ... her feet were bleeding ... after walking about a mile and a half in flip flops! People were incredulous when they heard of her flip flop walk.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Associations and the Paradox of Choice

Early in my career, I advocated multiple member benefits through what I called “membership of your choice.”

There are now several books and magazines devoted to what is called the "voluntary simplicity" movement. Its core idea is that we have too many choices, too many decisions, too little time to do what is really important.

Some of this began with The Paradox of Choice - Why More Is Less a 2004 book by American psychologist Barry Schwartz. In the book, Schwartz argues that eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers.

I thought of this when I read about the troubles at Olive Garden. Here’s a quote that caught my eye:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Leadership & Culture: Lessons from Microsoft’s new CEO

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
In a story headlined “Interview: How Nadella plans to upend Microsoft,” USA Today’s Marco della Cava, gave excellent insight.

Here are three paragraphs that I thought valuable for association executives:
  • "You need new concepts with new innovation, and you have to have new capability and culture to go after those new concepts," he says. "Your existing success kind of fights those things, so you have to over-amplify the new concept and the culture required for it. And that's the journey."
  • "Turns out that adoption rate was wrong, we'll exceed $150 billion by 2017, which will be 10% of total IT spend," says Michael Heric, a Bain partner focusing on technology, media and telecommunications. "Cloud computing is bringing sophisticated technology to large and small companies, from those working on cancer research to someone trying to predict weather patterns."
  • Nadella's desire to play nice with others in the tech world reflects the ongoing devolution of the industry. Where once stood monoliths such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Apple and Microsoft — each warring for faithful consumers — today's startup-fueled tech world places technology itself in a secondary role to innovative ideas and disruptive business models typified by the likes of Facebook and Uber.
In reading the interview, I saw three important elements for association managers:
  • Culture of change
  • Culture of leadership
  • Culture of collaboration
Read and enjoy!