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October 29, 2009

Building a better member

The November/December 2009 issue of Miller-McCune magazine features a great article titled "Building a Better Citizen," which cites a slew of research showing that local governments that actively seek citizen involvement in the democratic process create healthier, happier communities. Essentially, the key to building a better citizen is get the citizen more involved in his or her local community and government.

This really isn't earth shattering, but I see a lot of parallels in this idea to volunteerism and member engagement at associations. The article (which isn't available online, sadly was posted online Nov. 2) highlights Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam's idea of "social capital":

Putnam coined the term "social capital," to describe the intangible, value-laden benefits of a strong network of community relationships. In short, he argued, things like trust and cooperation—the building blocks of democratic governance—are products of positive, sustained social interaction. [...]

Putnam's research revealed that communities where social capital is high are more likely to experience lower school dropout rates, less crime, fewer hospitalizations, and higher rates of economic growth ... .

This fits nicely with findings from Decision to Volunteer and the Economic Impact studies:

  • The most common ways an association volunteer first learns of a volunteer opportunity:
    • Through a local chapter or section;
    • At a meeting, conference, or other event;
    • By being asked by another volunteer. (DTV)
  • The primary indicator of future attendance at a meeting or event is past attendance. (Econ.)

So, to recap: direct opportunities for involvement → initial involvement → social interaction → continued engagement → high "social capital," → a healthy, happy community (or association).

The most important message from the article, however, is that the onus is on governments to drive involvement. "... Americans seem ready to re-engage, but they also, somewhat paradoxically, expect government to pave the way. [...] In other words, Americans need cajoling."

Same goes for associations. It's your job to get the ball rolling. That first item in the arrow trail above is all on you as an association leader. Fall short, and none of the rest happens, but once members do get involved, they're significantly more likely to continue engaging. That's how you build a better member.

Again, this isn't a new idea, nor is it rocket science, but it's interesting to see the parallels between community/government involvement and association volunteerism and engagement. If you can get your hands on the print edition of Miller-McCune, that article is worth a read.

I have a big idea rolling around in my mind about the best catalyst for member involvement, but I'll save that for another post next week. (You're welcome to share your ideas, though, of course.)

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October 28, 2009

Are you a Control Freak?

During a dinner conversation with my wife last week, she told me (in so many words) that I had a controlling personality. But don’t worry, this wasn’t a fight--we talk to each other like this all the time. She is a psychiatrist, and it is so refreshing to be able to talk to someone who understands behavior and personality from a medical/clinical perspective. It is much less threatening for some reason. Although sometimes it’s not easy to hear!

I am a nice guy and generally not manipulative or negative by any means, but I do think I tend toward being a control freak sometimes, as I like to influence the people around me and move them in the direction I think they/we/the association should go. I justify this to myself by telling myself "I am using my powers for good," but at the end of the day, I need to learn better how to let go.

Here are some things I’ve noticed that might make some of us "control freaks":

- Unable or unwilling to delegate important projects to others

- Micromanaging staff behavior or work

- Feelings of worth increased when people agree with you/go your way

- Volunteering/taking on many new projects or extra work. This can be a good quality, but leading a project is the ultimate way to gain more control and influence

- Constantly finding yourself in the middle of things, playing the mediator

- Being inflexible when it comes to ideas that aren’t, um, your own

- Anxiousness when things change quickly. Do you wear out pens by constantly writing/re-writing over the words on your notepad?

Please don’t judge me, and please be honest with yourself and others. Sometimes these skills above come in real handy! But I think ultimately they can be be both positive and destructive, and I’d like to hear from others on how they have proactively managed their natural tendencies. Or, if you aren’t a control freak, maybe share experiences where you worked with a freak and helped them let go a bit.

Are you a control freak?

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October 26, 2009

Quick clicks: Risky business

Friday's Quick Clicks is now Monday morning Quick Clicks--my apologies for the delay! Here's some reading to kick off your week:

- Leslie White, who has written some great guest posts for other association bloggers in recent months, has started her own blog, Risky Chronicles. Her first post is all about risk strategy and polar bears.

- Jeff De Cagna has some strong words about what relevance is not.

- Tony Rossell at the Membership Marketing blog suggests a simple exercise to determine the value you offer to your members.

- Jeff Hurt issues a call for next-generation conference and membership revenue models.

- Michael McCurry has some ideas for how to plan for attrition (or attendance growth) in today's economy.

- David Gammel suggests that growth is a trap associations need to watch out for.

- Elizabeth Weaver Engel points to an interesting "FutureLab" experiment Independent Sector is currently undertaking.

- Has your professional development budget been cut? Rosetta Thurman summarizes 11 tips for do-it-yourself professional development.

- Erik Schonher at the Experts in Membership Marketing blog has some tips from a "master strategist" whose association has grown its membership despite the economy.

- Maddie Grant at the Socialfish blog shares some draft social media guidelines; at the Bamboo Project blog, Michele Martin shares another example of such guidelines, focused around "admirable use" of social media.

- Joan Eisenstodt wants to know if you know how your audience learns.

- David Patt responds to Acronym blogger Joe Rominiecki's post on "blowing it up and starting over." (On a somewhat related note, Lindy Dreyer has a great post about ending the quest for perfection.)


October 23, 2009

Re-envisioning volunteer management programs

Loads of associations and nonprofits are participating in Make a Difference Day this Sunday, showcasing just how responsive organizations and their members have been to President Obama’s National Call for Service and passage of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.
A look at the numbers shows that neighborhood engagement levels have risen sharply since 2007, with a 31 percent increase in the number of people who worked with neighbors to fix a community problem, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. And Points of Light Foundation CEO Michelle Nunn isn’t alone in her viewpoint that the past year indicates a “change in the course of civic responsibility in our nation.”

As a result, though, high-quality volunteer management has never been more important. That means associations and nonprofits should be rethinking their longtime volunteer management processes, training, and communications to best leverage this influx of new talent and enthusiasm.

I’m thinking of my own volunteer and philanthropic experiences with certain nonprofits. They weren’t always pleasant, and I’d estimate that I only did one-off projects for about half of them because they just weren’t particularly memorable, fun, or fulfilling enough to warrant my loyalty, even if the overall mission of the organization was laudable. With so many great causes, why would I want to stick with a group that couldn’t get its act together to articulate why my efforts or knowledge would make a particular difference?

I like that I’m seeing more organizations turn to social media to build real-time communities of volunteers so they can share their experiences and ideas with others. Facebook “parties” celebrating a successful service day, for instance, are great fun to relish afterward. Tweeting to other volunteers at a similar event elsewhere can be a hoot when it gets competitive about who is picking up the most trash, stuffing the most food boxes, or collecting the most used clothing. And Flickr is a fun way to tell a feel-good story through images and brief captions.

I urge you, as more people than ever agree to come help you out with everything from service days to fundraising, to spend some time looking at your volunteer management programs with fresh eyes. Share what changes you’re making, please. Are you surveying volunteers more often? Offering more flexible service opportunities? Developing richer profiles of volunteers so you can better tap into free talent? Gathering evaluation data to track satisfaction and engagement levels? Boosting your training? Clarifying the value proposition both to the volunteer and to the recipient/beneficiary?

Make a Difference Day seems like a good time to ask yourself if you really are making as much of a difference as you and your volunteers could be.


October 21, 2009

Marathon season and the 10 count

Since we're in the thick of fall marathon season, I have a quick piece of advice that works for both runners and association managers:

  • The 10 count: When you get to the top of a hill, don't immediately slow down. Instead, keep running hard for at least 10 more seconds. Push your pace while counting to 10 in your head.

For runners: Your body's natural reaction after cresting a hill is to slow down considerably. If you let this happen, you'll fall off the pace that you were keeping before you reached the hill. Of course, continuing to run hard for 10 more seconds will hurt, but it will prevent you from letting the hill beat you. This is when your mind must win over your body.

(I have to credit this lesson to John Long, my high school cross country coach. He might not have invented it, but he's the one who first taught it to me, back in my much fitter days.)

For association managers: I didn't make the connection between the 10 count and association work until earlier this year, during a discussion at a conference with Christine McEntee, CEO and EVP of the American Institute of Architects.

She pointed out that her board members are always most excited about their roles in the days immediately after a board meeting. Meanwhile, those are the days when a CEO and staff are most exhausted, when the meeting's finally over after days or weeks preparing for it. McEntee said she has to consciously remind herself and her fellow AIA staff to keep up their energy after the board meeting to help foster the engagement of their board members and convert that short-term excitement into long-term success.

Of course, this applies to any association meeting or event. Your members will be most excited and will most need your assistance at the exact time when you are the most exhausted. This is when your mind must win over your body. Consciously remind yourself to keep up your own energy for at least a few days or a week or two after a big meeting, whatever you deem the appropriate equivalent to the "10 count."

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October 16, 2009

Comfort with chaos

On her blog earlier this week, Lindy Dreyer shares a piece of advice about control: "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

Meanwhile, Wes Trochlil makes a similar point about data collection. He says, "It's not reasonable or useful to try to collect all types of data from all of your members and customers."

And Peter Bregman at Harvard Business argues that the best way to create change is to focus on changing one thing, not an entire system. His advice: "...[T]ake the time up front to figure out the one and only thing that will have the highest impact and then focus 100% of [your] effort on that one thing."

I really liked these thoughts (you should go read all three posts), because they allude to something we often forget: Planet Earth is a chaotic place. It's made up of unpredictable environments filled with unpredictable humans who create unpredictable systems. Life is so much easier when you get comfortable with that chaos. Pick the sliver you can effectively influence, and then let the rest go.

And so I would suggest a slightly different but equally important way to phrase Lindy's advice above: "Don't get so caught up in trying to control everything that you miss your chance to control something."

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Quick clicks: Where's my crystal ball?

It's time for your weekly round of quick clicks from the association blogging community and elsewhere. Enjoy!

- The Signature i blog has a great post describing four ways to think about the future, and advice to help you upgrade your futures thinking. Elsewhere, Kevin Holland has some predictions for the future of associations. (And so do several commenters on Brian Birch's recent Acronym post with his predictions for 2010.)

- Jamie Notter says that the future of organizations lies in being human.

- On the SocialFish blog, Lindy Dreyer writes about the power of clarity.

- Michael LoBue at Association Voices is deleting his Twitter account, but Eric Lenke at the Hourglass Blog speaks up for texting in church (and possibly at education events, as well).

- Bob Sutton shares his top 10 flawed management assumptions.

- The Vanguard Technology blog recently interviewed Greg Hill of the Kansas Dental Association on how his association has become a "multimedia powerhouse."

- KiKi L'Italien posts 10 things she learned at her association's recent conference, while Becky Hadley at the Drake & Company blog posts about attending her association's conference for the first time.

- Jeff Hurt has some research to share pointing to the benefits of virtual education. Ellen Behrens, meanwhile, writes about the differences between training and mentoring.

- Short but sweet: Peggy Hoffman posts the 12th post in her series of truths about volunteering.


October 15, 2009

What have your members taught you?

We talk all the time about all the great things our associations have done for the members. I’d like to explore what our members have done for us as individuals. I’ll go first:

- One member taught me that being who you are is the best business model

- One member taught me the difference between markup & margin

- I learned from one member to be careful of first impressions, as they are the first opportunity to underestimate someone

- One member helped me understand that the details do matter, even if I don’t like dealing with them

- A close friend and member taught me to have a sense of humor, even when times are challenging

The members of the association I work for are contractors. They work in the field a lot, and they work long and difficult hours in terrible conditions. The best thing I have learned is that they are out there, professionals with strong minds and hearts who are just trying to make a better lives for themselves and their families. Aside from all that I’ve learned professionally through my experiences, I’ve learned to have faith in the nature and competency of the small and medium-sized entrepreneurs that comprise our membership. It has had a profound effect on the way I view these people. I hope some of you have had similar experiences.

What have your members taught you?

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October 14, 2009

Why stereotypes are good

I admit it, the title is a bit of a bait-and-switch, because I hate stereotypes. I think they are dangerous abominations that breed hatred and contempt between people far, far more often than they lead to understanding and respect between people. I also know that they are absolutely inevitable and that our brains are wired to form them and act on them.

I’ve spent a good amount of energy trying to confront and overcome the stereotypes I believe, and arguing with people about the usefulness of stereotypes. And then I read a fascinating book: Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You by Sam Gosling, Ph.D. Chapter 7 is titled “In Defense of Stereotypes.” I think the book and the chapter provide a good and accurate picture, but they did not change my view of stereotypes. It did change, or at least sharpen, the arguments I use when thinking about stereotypes, however. Here’s Gosling:

“…we use stereotypes to fill in the gaps when we are unable to gather all the information. And most everyday opportunities for perception are riddled with gaps. If you didn’t use stereotypes, you would be overwhelmed, because every item, person, and experience in life would have to be treated as though it were a totally new experience, not part of a broader class.”

There’s a key phrase in there: “unable to gather all the information.” So, stereotypes are good. You need them to function in society. But there are two important points. First, believe what you see more than the stereotype, and, second, distrust stereotypes and seek more information to sharpen the image forming in your head.

The danger of stereotypes and limited information is that they become blinders. Gosling related one study where students were describing people based on a few minutes looking at their dorm rooms. In one room, a pair of women’s shoes in the middle of floor was an obvious first visible clue. There were many other clues that the occupant was, in fact, a man and that the shoes must have belonged to a friend. These clues were ignored or, worse, misinterpreted—warped to fit the first assumption.

I get irked in conversations where broad generalizations are made, most recently that means the conversations around how Boomers compare with Gen Y compare with whomever in the workplace. It’s not that I think the generalizations are bogus—if you’re dealing with intelligent people then there’s data to back up what they’re saying. But I don’t think we put anywhere near enough emphasis that as a population becomes a group becomes a bunch becomes a few becomes an individual, those generalizations become less and less useful to the point that they are useless and only get in the way.

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October 13, 2009

Think big

Here at Acronym we have been developing theme months on a semi-regular basis, and for December we'd like your help.

The end of the year is traditionally a time for reflection about the past and future, so we'd like to do some creative thinking about big ideas. Call it a "what if" month.

Here's where you come in: please post in the comments below your suggestions for finishing this sentence:

"What if associations...?"

Yes, it's incredibly vague, but that's the point. Nothing is out of bounds. Again, think big. Think crazy.

We'll start things off with a few examples:

  • What if associations got rid of their boards?
  • What if associations moved to all-virtual staffing models?
  • What if associations required all members to volunteer?

With your suggestions, we'll plan to examine several of them in a series of posts here in December.

Can't wait to read your ideas. Thanks in advance!

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Tough economy prompts nonprofit to try weird-but-wow raffle

Whoa—just when you think you’ve heard of almost every type of fundraiser in the world, something comes along that gives you pause. This time it’s by a youth service nonprofit called World Youth Empowerment, which has created what it calls a “Mega House Raffle.” Winner of its grand prize can select “any property for sale within the state of California up to a value of $3 million.” Oh, and it includes $200,000 in furnishings and a new Bentley Continental GT car.

“But what about gift taxes?” you might sigh. Nada. The prize is tax-free, resulting in a total prize package worth more than $4 million. No need for a West Coast home? Take $2 mil instead. Yeah, that’s what makes this raffle fundraiser the largest in America to date, according to WYE. And just to keep it more exciting, only 60,000 tickets at $150 each will be sold, starting October 15.

According to WYE Executive Director Charlie Smith, the poor economy with its deep funding cuts in the public sector and drop in private giving is forcing nonprofits to seek “non-traditional means of fundraising. We chose a charitable raffle, but needed to make it large, unique and exceptional to distinguish it from other raffles. With valuable assistance from our private benefactors, we created the Mega House Raffle that certainly qualifies in all respects." He hopes to raise $9 million from ticket sales.

The prize drawing is on March 22, 2010, but WYE is giving away hundreds of smaller prizes in 16 early-bird drawings. I’ll be interested to hear whether Smith meets his fundraising goal, but in the meantime, I’d also like to hear what other out-there types of fundraising is going on in the nonprofit community. Any original twists on long-time favorites such as auctions, raffles, cause marketing, events, whatever?

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October 9, 2009

Quick clicks: Swarmball!

Ready for the long weekend? For that matter, is it a long weekend for you? Either way, here's some reading to reflect on:

- Two more association bloggers replied to the Generation X meme that began last week: Kevin Holland and David Patt.

- The Digital Now conference's blog has collected some classic CEO quotes for you.

- Wes Trochlil drew some important lessons for your association from his daughter's last soccer game (I'll admit, I'm linking to this in part for the opportunity to use the word "swarmball").

- Frank Fortin writes in praise of the forgotten power of email.

- The SocialFish blog recently posted a white paper analyzing white label online community vendors.

- David Patt has 15 tips for meeting planners working with older members or audiences.

- Jakub Nielsen's latest "Alertbox" column has some fascinating information on a user's experience on a website from the first 0.1 second to his or her first year as a customer, and even further out in time than that.

- Erik Casey has an interesting post on the importance of making your member communications relevant, while the IMG Associations blog has a related post on making them applicable.

- Marsha Rhea at the SignatureI blog discusses change leadership from the perspective of those most impacted by the change in question.

- Shelly Alcorn's Association Subculture blog argues that associations need to become experience brokers.

- Jeffrey Cufaude describes various staff members' approaches to innovation using an on-ramp as a metaphor (making me nervous for my commute home tonight!).

- Is it a bad thing to have a superstar community manager on your staff? This post from the Museum 2.0 blog says yes.


October 8, 2009

My Top 5 Things to Remember in 2010 as an Association Professional

As we move into a new decade, what are the most important things we can focus on in our profession? Here are my top five:

1) Priorities Over Majorities: Most people aren’t great at naturally prioritizing, and the majority of the people you know will focus on everything but the most important thing (because the important thing is always the hardest thing). We association professionals should get really good at prioritizing everything quickly, including emails, workload, educational programming, and volunteers. Oftentimes this will be challenging, as many will focus on things that aren’t that important long-term. For an example in educational programming prioritization, check out our Prioritized Educational Agenda.

2) Control Technology or It’ll Control You: When evaluating any new technology for your association, from a pencil to Twitter to a new website, always ask: Where will this be in 5 or 10 years? What part of our strategic plan or mission will this technology help us deliver? This exercise can help us navigate the increasingly complex balance between doing what is new and cool, and doing what makes the most sense for the organization and its members. In other words, don’t let technology drive your decisions; implement decisions with technology.

3) "It’s the Content, Stupid": Over and over, people have come to the realization that quality, accurate information and education always trumps flair--flair should support and entice, not serve as the foundation to our educational and event planning. Our world is becoming inundated with cookie-cutter speakers doing cookie-cutter presentations, and cookie-cutter websites and social networks. How do we develop better, more specific content and provide time for people to learn? Every person has the capacity to grow when they are challenged by someone they respect; how do we challenge our members while maintaining and increasing their respect for the association?

4) Partner to Prosper: In a global world, we must get better at sharing and partnering. Associations bring people together because there is strength in numbers; do we live by our own mantra? No association should see another association as a direct competitor.

5) This Social Network Will Self-Destruct: Over time, new things become old ... be prepared for social networking apathy. Some people are getting tired of Facebook or spending less time on such applications, and many people use social networking casually and aren’t that engaged in it. Most people still value in-person interaction and community, or associations would be long-gone by now. Don’t get me wrong, some social networks online are valuable and 2.0 technology is great, but I would argue that many social networks will lose value over time, unless they offer something more than just putting a hit out on your friends in Mafia Wars. Where will all of these networks be in 5 years? Check out this interesting article from Wired Times in 2004.

Please share your thoughts, or share your own Top 5 for 2010!

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October 6, 2009

The headaches of petty complaints

I don't envy Washington, DC, Mayor Adrian Fenty right now. As explained last week in the Washington Post, neighborhood groups in DC are embroiled in bitter arguments over the benefit or nuisance of speed bumps that have been installed. The level of outrage engendered by little mounds of pavement is a bit absurd, but leaders are often charged with minding such petty arguments among their stakeholders.

I'm sure most association managers can relate. As mayor, Fenty has more important things to worry about: fixing schools, reducing crime, battling the local AIDS epidemic, etc. As an association executive, you face challenges like finding new sources of revenue, keeping pace with changing technology, or fighting for your industry on Capitol Hill.

Yet, members get vocal about the selection of food at a meeting, word choice in a publication, or the deadline for an awards application. (Perhaps they even send you an email with a red "urgent" exclamation point!) Is your first reaction slap your forehead and say "Gimme a freakin' break!"?

My colleague Lisa Junker makes an insightful point, though: what might seem "inconsequential" to the CEO, who has to worry about the big picture, matters dearly to the individual member. This is a frustrating, eternal truth of leadership.

So what are the options? Roll up your sleeves and stick your hands in the dirty details of minor situations? Ignore them and hope they go away? Say a few words to create the appearance that you care, delegate the problem to the appropriate department, and then move on with other things?

Please use the comments as a therapists' couch. Blow off some steam and entertain us with a few of the petty situations you've had to deal with as an association manager, and then share how you've navigated them.

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October 2, 2009

Quick clicks: Much ado about X

Happy Friday, everyone!

- The association blogging community has been abuzz about a meme started by Maddie Grant's post "The Xer Meme: Have We Sold Out?" Generation Xers and others have replied to her question in droves, including Maggie McGary, Cynthia D'Amour, Jamie Notter, Lynn Morton, Lindy Dreyer, KiKi L'Italien, Matt Baehr, Shelly Alcorn, Ben Martin, Shannon Otto, Jeffrey Cufaude, Eric Lanke, and Elizabeth Weaver Engel. (Did I miss anybody?)

- Kerry Stackpole has some thoughts on associations as lagging economic indicators and what we should be doing to prepare for 2010.

- On SmartBrief's Insights blog, Deirdre Reid wonders if associations need to shift their focus from our members to members' customers.

- Steve Drake asks if you know what your association's assets really are.

- Lynn Morton has some predictions for the future of technology use in associations.

- Jeff Hurt has seen the "new normal" in the meetings industry and has 12 takeaways (and some predictions) to share.

- Rachel Happe at the Community Roundtable blog talks about membership fees in the "free" era.

- The Idea Center blog is hosting a guest post from risk management expert Leslie White on the intersection between risk management, decision making, and a fast-paced environment.

- David Patt has a great example of how your audience can surprise you.

- At the Hedgehog and Fox blog, Jeff Cobb talks about the difference between making and growing a market.


October 1, 2009

Blow it up and start over

I am beginning to think that the best solution to American healthcare reform would be a time machine. We could all go back to a time before so many competing interest groups had so much power, and we could start from scratch. We'd set the whole thing up right (whatever that might be).

It'd be a whole lot easier than trying to fix what we have now, right?

I'm not really thinking about healthcare reform, though. It's just that the healthcare mess has me thinking about situations in which creating effective change seems so daunting that we're led to daydream about starting over completely.

A few scenarios come to mind:

  • Mass transportation in most of the United States;
  • My addiction to Mountain Dew;
  • The Washington Redskins.

I see similar daunting scenarios in associations, too:

  • Overhauling governance and volunteer structures;
  • Rethinking membership models;
  • Changing pricing plans for products and events;
  • Redesigning a website.

In all of these cases, blowing up the current structure and starting over seems like it would be the easier option, if it were possible. I'm sure you can think of others. Naturally, these wishes tend to arise around deep, structural change efforts that cut to the core of both what people believe in and what they are accustomed to. That's where things get bogged down. Rethinking something on paper is easy; when you get a bunch of people involved, you get politics, you get technical roadblocks, you get hurt feelings.

Without wandering too far into the wilderness of change management theory, I'd like to focus on two questions:

  • Is it beneficial to even entertain the question "What if we could start over?" People often use this as a starting point for brainstorming exercises, but if you know that you can't start over, isn't this little more than aimless daydreaming? Wouldn't it be better to focus your mental energy on how to specifically navigate change within the environment that faces you?
  • Is it ever possible to start over? Let's take an association's governance model, for example. What would it take to convince everyone involved to completely abandon the current model and build a new one from scratch? Could it be done? Wouldn't the incoming board president be a little miffed? What about volunteers on committees that would be disbanded? Would you be mired in too many competing interests to ever be able to start over?

To the first question, I say yes. To the second, I'm very much undecided. I'd like to hear your thoughts, especially from those of you who have found yourselves leading such change efforts. At my level, most of my "start over" moments are indeed just daydreams about what I might do if I were in charge. If only I had a time machine...

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Welcome Joe Rominiecki!

I'm pleased to introduce to you today a new regular Acronym blogger, Joe Rominiecki. (Long-time Acronym readers may recall that Joe has posted here occasionally in the past.) Joe is ASAE & The Center's managing editor for newsletters; in addition to leading the team of staff and freelancers who work on our dozen-plus member e-newsletters, he also contributes extensively to Associations Now. Before joining us at ASAE & The Center, he worked for the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors as NVAR's communications coordinator. He's a talented writer and editor, soon-to-be owner of two kittens, and a sadly misguided fan of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Please welcome Joe to Acronym--he's got some great things to say, and I'm looking forward to seeing them on the blog!