Sunday, August 31, 2014

Happy Labor Day: Last One with Boomer majority!

As you enjoy the day, take time to celebrate the final year of “Boomer domination” of the workforce.

That’s right. Starting next year (2015), millenials will be the majority of workers in the U.S.

Are you ready for that? 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Staff Retreat Benefits Association Executives

As I visit with association executives, I hear many feeling burned out or just plain tired.

This seems to reflect our 24/7 culture and a sense of not controlling our time.

I find my annual “staff retreat” to provide relaxation, think time and often, work away from the hassles of the office.

For example, I just returned from six days on a wilderness fishing lake in far northwest Ontario. This was the 50th consecutive year that parts of our family have “gone north” for summer fishing. It’s a tradition my dad started and he did the trip until he was 89.

In addition to the beauty, fishing and time with family, I was able to get a lot done (until my computer battery expired). [Yes, we are far enough north not to have phone or internet service!]

During the week, I ... 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Is It Time to Leave Your Association CEO?

I was networking with an association communications and membership professional at the ASAE2014 annual meeting.
She laid out her frustrations with her boss, the association’s new CEO.

Some of the items I remember:
  • He reviews and changes the association’s magazine ... causing delays in publication and costly changes during the printing process.
  • He revises the annual convention program ... after contracts have been signed ... causing increased costs.
  • He changes the association theme ... after he had originally approving it.
  • He moves the primary role for media relations to his former department.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Governance and Strategy: Steps from Administrative Management to Strategic Leadership

Guest Post by Greg Schultz of The Sherwood Group, Inc.

Name of Association: National professional society

Description of the Organization: 

  • 2,500 member professional society of survey and research professionals 
  • Annual budget of $1.25 million

The Problem: 

  • The board members defined their jobs as management, not leadership, and they didn’t see the distinction. There was a laser focus on day to day management and details, and the board would repeat committee work. There was no leadership continuity, and as a result leadership was personality-driven. 
  • Intellectually, a few board members understood that they had to evolve, but even those enlightened few couldn’t articulate how or why. The board had been successful growing the organization to that point by being hands on, with concrete tasks and deadlines. So why change? 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Synergy in the Boardroom: From Chaos to High Functioning

Guest Post by Russ Lemieux, Kellen Company

Description of the Organization: 

The Research Chefs Association is a 2,000 member professional society of chefs and food scientists working in R&D in food industry. Governed by a 16-member Board of Directors. Annual budget: $1.75 million.

The Problem: 
Early in its existence, the association was served well by a very entrepreneurial Board of Directors. Over time, as the organization grew in size and scope, the organization was increasingly hampered by that style of Board. Although the association had a strategic plan, association programs were developed and managed in silos with little or no mapping to the organization’s mission. Board members were personally responsible for specific projects and/or functions, many of them pet projects developed with little input, vetting or Board approval.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Engaging Leadership to Eliminate Deadwood Programs: Repair, Replace, Reinforce

Guest Post by Marilyn Jansen, Association Management Center

Name of Association: An international association of record managers

Description of the Organization: 
500 memberships representing 1500 individual members; $1.3 million budget

The Problem: 

The Board allows mission and program creep and fails to provide adequate resources to execute the new programs and services. They hold on to old ideas and programs without evaluating the priorities of the strategic plan, the program’s overall effectiveness, implementation impact to staff, and bearing on the bottom line.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What Color is Your Shirt - From Trivia to Strategic

Editor's Note:
I facilitated a panel at the recent ASAE Annual Meeting.  Our topic:  Why Boards Fail and How to Fix Them.  Our panel used 8 case studies to address our topic.  Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing many of the case studies ... you can find the cases on SlideShare.

The case I shared follows:

Name of Association: A national association of calf growers

Description of the Organization: 
350 members; 15 board members; $300,000 budget

The Problem: 
 As a fairly new association coming from a relationship with staffing from multiple agencies, board members focused on minute day-to-day tactical issues. For example, on one 60-minute board conference call, the board spent 21% of the call discussing what color of shirts to wear the first day of its convention.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Timing Is Everything When It Comes to Association Public Relations

No matter how well you plan a major announcement for your association, news events can get in the way and keep you from getting the news coverage you desired!
Sometimes your best PR plans get displaced by major news events.

Back in graduate journalism school, we studied a Wilbur Shramm book titled One Day in the World’s Press: Fourteen Great Newspapers on a Day of Crisis, November 2, 1956. 

On November 2, 1956, troops and tanks from the USSR invaded Hungary and at nearly the same time planes from Britain and France bombed the Suez Canal.

The news media then and now have room for only one lead story. Only one front page headline. Only one story leading off the tv news reports. When we have many more news outlets today, media face the same issue:  only one story can lead the news stories.

The authors studied front pages of newspapers around the world in November 1956 to see which story was the “headline.” 
[Note in photo above, the paper's editors deemed the Suez Canal story more important than the Hungary invasion.]

I can think of similar situations since Shramm’s book:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Job Hunting in the Network Age

When it comes to associations and association professionals, this interview in the Wall Street Journal offers some good information.

Here are some key elements from the interview:

  • The 47-year-old knows networks. Reid Hoffman built his reputation by founding the business social-networking platform LinkedIn and serving as chief operating officer of the e-commerce site PayPal, both billion-dollar powerhouses. He was an early investor in YouTube, Yelp, Flickr, Zynga ZNGA and, oh yes, Facebook. 
  • He has a theory on what makes ventures work: understanding that information is no longer isolated but instantly connected to everything else. Call it the move from the information age to the network age.
  • It's not just online, on Facebook and Twitter, but everywhere. It is the sum of those communications, conversations and interactions.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Do You Welcome Your Association Members (by Name)?

I went inside the bank (yes, they still have an inside) the other day and the tellers welcomed me by name.

The same thing happens at our golf course. From the bag drop to the pro shop to the starter, I am welcomed with a cheerful, “Hello, Mr. Drake.”

I see the same thing when I’m flying. The flight attendants of some airlines (say Southwest) are far more friendly and personable than those of the legacy airlines (say Delta or United).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Association Executives Can Benefit from Overcoming Math Anxiety

In preparation for her presentation at the upcoming ASAE Annual Meeting (ASAE14), I’ve been reading Noreena Hertz’s Eyes Wide Open ( My goal was to get an upfront idea of Noreena and have an idea of what she might discuss.

In her chapter titled, “Overcome Your Math Anxiety,” Hertz suggests:
  1. Make sure to ask yourself how the numbers were generated. What was the methodology that underpinned them? And, how does it relate to the claims being made?
  2. Reflect on whether the questions asked are likely to promote a particular response over another.
  3. Check to see if the data being presented has been cherry-picked – sliced and diced in a particular way so as to make a particular point.
  4. When presented with an estimate of risk, check whether it’s an estimate of absolute risk (e.g., a 1 percent chance that you will have a heart attack) or an estimate of relative risk (e.g., a 30 percent decrease in your chance of experiencing a heart attack.)
I share Hertz’s concerns about math anxiety.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why Aren’t Younger Staff More Loyal to Their Employers?

When I’m giving presentations on generational differences, “older” folks often ask me, “Why aren’t they younger staff (Gen Xers and Millenials) more loyal to our company/association/nonprofit?”

After 15 years of eating/sleeping/breathing my association, my boss and I were fired. My “kids” were in high school then. They knew how loyal I was to my association and job. They experienced me being fired. They remember!

And, as companies and organizations downsized, re-engineered and right-sized staffs during the 1990s, they trained younger generations NOT to be loyal to the companies because the companies were not loyal to their parents.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Association Board Disinterest or Rudeness?

When I started in association management, three forms of board behavior really ticked me off.

Board members that didn’t pay attention seemed rude and frequently blamed leaders or staff for them not knowing what was happening.

Those three behaviors included:

  • Reading the newspaper during the board meeting.
  • Talking with their neighbors during the board meeting (usually when someone else was speaking or giving a report).
  • Sneaking out of the board meeting to find a pay phone so they could call home or call the office.