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The economic and social challenges of this pandemic have cast a harsh spotlight on leadership. If you are sitting in the corner office, you have a unique opportunity to prove that you belong in that big chair. Although there is no playbook for this crisis, there are attitudes and behaviors that support the heavy lifting required to motivate your team and advance your mission in the face of extreme disruption.   Several years ago, we realized Industry 4.0 , or the intersection of the digital and material worlds, would be a proving ground for leadership, and .orgSource began exploring the future of associations through that lens. This research resulted in ...
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Technology is our silent partner in the challenging job of keeping the economy moving during COVID-19. This health crisis has taught us that the more we make the digital world our world, the better equipped we will be to manage both business and life in the face of disruption. Associations who were early adopters of digital strategies made the transition to a remote workplace with minimal distraction. For others, the abrupt technological, administrative and cultural shift has been destabilizing. I have heard about challenges ranging from lack of equipment to the complete inability to accommodate virtual business.  If your organization was, or is, struggling ...
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Should we cancel the conference? Are layoffs needed to keep the organization afloat? How much of the reserves can we safely spend?   Responsibility for the decisions that make or break an organization is the tough side of leadership. Selling a solution to everyone who must agree can be even harder. But you don’t need nerves of steel and a will of iron to survive. Having problem-solving strategies at the ready and understanding how to use them effectively will pay you back in hours of lost sleep, make you feel better about going to work and give you a tool to build a more resilient association.    Be Ahead of the Curve One way to avoid the most challenging ...
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Canceling a conference is a decision that most association CEO’s never imagined they would be forced to make. But many organizations recently faced that challenge, and more will probably do so in the near future. Fortunately, technology now gives us alternate ways to continue our work, including providing members with education and fellowship. Virtual conferences and meetings are more than an option. They are an increasingly popular way of convening that organizations should embrace for reasons that go well beyond the current challenge. Every association that depends on an annual meeting for a major percentage of budget should have virtual plans ...
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In a crisis, like the current pandemic, an integrated digital strategy can make the difference between business as usual and a meltdown. Travis Cheatham, Director of Technology Operations and Digital Solutions at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, has firsthand understanding of how the right approach to technology can impact an organization’s ability to navigate tough times. If COVID-19 has brought your association’s technology deficit out of hiding, Travis’s perspective on AACE’s digital transformation will be both helpful and hopeful. Travis Cheatham   When a hurricane hit Jacksonville, AACE didn’t worry about the accessibility ...
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Living in the shadow of COVID-19 can feel like being stuck in a bad science fiction movie, but there are positives to be found in this challenging situation. Many of us will have the opportunity to be our best personal and professional selves. If you are heading a remote team, you can be a leader who helps your group to find stability and motivation despite the uncertainty and fear that is as easy to catch as the virus. The association community is a latecomer to the remote workplace. Until two weeks ago many organizations were still reluctant to integrate regular work from home policies into their business practices. In contrast, the majority of the for-profit ...
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My email and phone are burning with questions and concerns from leaders facing the tough decisions that COVID-19 is forcing upon us. Choices that plunge a budget deep into the red and threaten member engagement are gut-wrenching, but the difficult decisions are easier when you have expert advice.   We looked to our colleagues Adele Cehrs, author and CEO, When + How Agency , and her partner Chip Massey, former FBI hostage negotiator and special agent, for advice. Adele and Chip are seasoned crisis managers who have a long history of successfully navigating disruption. I’ve summarized some of their strategies for changing panic into purpose and keeping ...
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What do you think these three questions have in common?   “How might we survive and flourish amid tensions and contradictions?” Elsa Fridman   “What is it about your business today that you can’t answer?” Brian Panosian   “What if competitors worked together?” Michelle Rigan-Ranson   In the eyes of author/journalist, Warren Berger, each of these questions is beautiful. Berger describes a beautiful question as one that is ambitious but also actionable. The search for an answer returns more than facts, it might alter your perception and bring about significant change.   Asking the right beautiful question ...
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Of all the experiences involved in writing a book, and there are many—both frustrating and fascinating, what you learn is the most rewarding. Association 4.0™: An Entrepreneurial Approach to Risk, Courage and Transformation , which I wrote with my business partner Kevin Ordonez, is my second adventure as an author. The entrepreneurs we interviewed taught us how some of the most innovative leaders in the association community manage the precarious business of growing a company from start-up to maturity.  The book launch is planned for .orgCommunity’s, February 20 Innovation Summit , in Schaumburg, IL. Participants at the event will have the ...
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Is your association innovative enough to survive in the roaring twenties? Before you answer, name three strategies you use to promote creative thinking. If they don’t roll off your tongue, consider this: Blockbuster— had a chance to buy Netflix and didn’t. Toys R Us—let a contract with Amazon derail their ecommerce opportunities. Xerox—never capitalized on the many breakthrough technologies developed at its Palo Alto Research Center. Some readers might believe these cautionary tales don’t apply to associations. Associations are about mission before value, right? They don’t have shareholders anticipating big gains. There are organizations with ...
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Deploying a smart factory may not be in your future. But association CEOs who are looking for success must embrace attitudes that keep them in front of these, and other trends associated with Industry 4.0.      By 2021, one quarter of the top 100 consumer goods companies will be using 3D printing to create custom products on demand. By 2025, 75 percent of the total workforce will be Millennials. Their resumes will list skills we barely register today. By 2027, many employees will count robots among their co-workers. Why should you care about this melding of the cyber and physical worlds? Because along with the IT miracles that characterize it, ...
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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C. Clark Industry 4.0 is killing science fiction. With each new technological miracle, the window of time and imagination between fantasy inventions and real products and services grows smaller. Here are some examples: Doctors in the United Kingdom recently created an artificial cornea using human cells and a 3D printer. Dactyl, a robot, is capable of teaching itself how to manipulate objects with its fingers. The robot uses neural-network software to experiment randomly with movement. Each time the task is performed more accurately the neural connection grows stronger. ...
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Animation, riveting images and a contemporary color palate get you noticed. But a content strategy is the secret to giving your audience a more meaningful relationship with your website, your brand and your organization. A website redesign is a significant investment in resources. The temptation to take shortcuts is understandable. But even Ferrari-sleek graphics, won’t make posts that have been gathering digital dust go viral. Your web provider will thank you for taking the time up front to create a thoughtful content strategy. Starting the project with clearly defined parameters around voice, messaging and audiences ensures that the old adage form follows ...
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We’ve all experienced the meeting from hell. The chair lost control. People were frantic to have their say, and nobody got heard. The same kind of communications nightmare happens when you don’t impose order on your content. A thoughtful content strategy ensures that the message you deliver will be one that makes people listen. It’s a Metallica concert out there. In any association, multiple interests clash and compete for attention. Membership needs renewals, meetings wants to fill seats and the foundation is prospecting for contributions. There are journals, blogs, podcasts, forums and the ceaseless chatter of social media. Not to mention all the other ...
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Somewhere back in the Dark Ages of IT- say two years ago, because that’s how fast the electronic world moves now ­- we thought about technology as a tool to do business. There has been a profound shift in that concept. Technology has made the leap out of the toolbox. It is become integral to almost every customer experience. And, any successful plan to grow membership or develop new business must be centered around how people interact with your brand.   Every week, I receive calls from association executives who are concerned about: Engaging a new generation – at first, these conversations focused on millennials, now the questions are ...
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The opportunity to participate in my clients’ stories is one of the reasons I love being a consultant. To write our book, Association 4.0—Positioning for Success in an Era of Disruption , we interviewed leaders who strive to stay a step ahead of the future. CHEST is one association that doesn’t shy away from bold moves, and .orgSource has been lucky enough to help them navigate several major transitions. For those who are considering strategic or technology leaps, CHEST’s experience, which is also described in our book, is sure to inspire. From One Patient to 19,000 Members After Murray Kornfeld recovered from tuberculosis, he had a dream that one ...
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When you sign a consulting contract on the dotted line, the stakes are high. You’ve called in the experts to guide a project that will have a significant impact on your association’s future. It’s almost always a highly visible, big-ticket item. People across the organization are invested in a positive outcome. None more so than the leaders who evaluate your own performance—the board of directors. Failure is typically not a viable option. Yes, you are taking a risk. But don’t let fear stop you from getting the support you need. A smooth consulting relationship can make you a hero. These are some advantages you stand to gain when you hire an outside expert: ...
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Watching the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team beat England, it occurred to me that the game was a perfect example of strategy in action. A great team was testing their skills and tactics on the pitch, fully prepared to meet unexpected challenges. Granted, business will never have the flash of World Cup soccer. But strategic planning shouldn’t be cringeworthy. Shaping the future is exciting. Why are people tempted to flirt with a sick day when the meeting rolls around? According to Gartner, a global research and advisory company, 56 percent of corporate executives and their teams believe that strategic planning is a waste of time. An Ernst and Young study reports ...
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The Digital Transformation Series, Part Two Reading your monthly membership report is like getting a bad diagnosis—over and over again.  The meeting registration is no bowl of cherries either. But there is a bright spot. The board has agreed that it’s time for action. That tired, old AMS that’s been limping through its paces is going to be replaced with some sleek new systems. A digital transformation is on the horizon. What can you do to prepare for a transition that will get those dismal numbers moving back in the right direction?   Digital transformation is a business term that has become ubiquitous, and consequently more complicated to define. ...
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Patrick Murray, Senior Government Affairs Director for Cooperative Network, writes about the advocacy work he does for their members. Did you know trade associations have advocated on behalf of their members for thousands of years? Dating back to the Roman Empire, these entities were more commonly known as guilds. The purpose of these guilds was for individuals such as masons, goldsmiths and tanners to come together for a common goal. Their goal included the protection and defense of their interests, as well as providing mutual aid to each other. Over the years, various guilds were able to wield influence through advocacy efforts with state officials. While ...
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