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.

The Solution: 
When Association Management Center began managing this group we started with a comprehensive evaluation of the group’s current initiatives and asked the board and members what was working and what was not. There were two programs that immediately came to the table to further evaluate. First, was a printed membership directory produced bi-annually, that included headshots of each member. Often, there was only 50% participation and the directories took a tremendous amount of staff follow up time to produce; but the board was committed to keeping the directory. New AMC staff brainstormed ideas and proposed eliminating the printed version and replacing with an online version that could be updated regularly. This change, not only enhanced the quality, participation, and overall effectiveness of the directory, but it dramatically reduced the staff time required to produce the directory freeing up needed staff time for new programs.

The second initiative was a newsletter template that was created as a members benefit to include industry tips and tricks. The idea was that members would use this template to produce and send out a company newsletter to their customers. The problem was no one used the template. The needs of the members varied so greatly that the template just did not satisfy the majority of members and was not used. However, it was still an active initiative. The new AMC ED effectively presented the data and was able to gain unanimous support to eliminate the newsletter template redirecting the staff time to other more important initiatives.


  • Evaluate all initiatives annually to determine effectiveness. 
  • Survey the membership.
  • Track staff time by projects to provide needed data to determine the true cost of a program.
  • Engage leadership to solve a common challenge in developing priorities.
  • Present the “real” costs including time it takes to implement new programs so accurate decisions can be made. 

Marilyn Jansen has more than 25 years of experience problem solving both in corporate America and the association industry. She is the Director, Marketing and Business Development for Association Management Center, Chicago, IL; which provides superior full-service management and consulting services, while fostering and developing long-term, trusted relationships that create mutual success and growth. Located only minutes from O’Hare Airport, AMC is celebrating its 40th anniversary; and believes in helping its association partners Achieve What You Believe.

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