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April 28, 2010

People vs. systems

On Monday, Jamie Notter wrote a post titled "Working with Other Humans Is Not Optional." He included a rather funny (in a soul crushing kind of way) comic, "The Cycle of (Time) Suck," which makes light of having to endure endless email and lengthy meetings in the workplace.

The comic raises this question in my mind: If you're buried in inefficient email and meetings, is your problem caused by email and meetings as tools or by the people using the email and running the meetings?

My answer to any question like this, about people versus systems, is always that people are the more important factor. People might not be the ones to blame, per se, but their influence is always greater, which is why I liked the title of Jamie's post. Whatever you do, however you do it, humans—with all their strengths and flaws—will be involved.

I'm not a systems guy. I might be jaded, though, by so many plans for new systems and tools that aim to solve all of our problems but somehow never take into account how normal human beings might interact with them (or that assume people will quickly change their normal behavior when they use them).

Even the best system won't work without people who are happy to work in it, but I believe competent people can still get a lot of work done without a great system in place. (Jim Collins was on to something when he said "Get the right people on the bus.") Of course, having both efficient people and efficient systems in place is ideal, but if I had to choose one over the other, I'd always go with the people.

For associations, the volume, variety, and constant churn of people in our work make this doubly important. Any problem you have is a people problem, and any system you build should be designed with real people in mind, first.

I know some of you out there are systems thinkers. Is my perspective on this missing something? Or am I just stating the obvious? Curious for your thoughts.

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Postcards from Buenos Aires

If your association is expanding its operations overseas or you're just interested in learning about business, associations, and cultural life around the world, you may be interested in ASAE & The Center's current international study mission to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Bojan Tercon, who blogged about last year's study mission to Dubai and Singapore, is blogging again this year, and he's had a lot to say so far:

- Study mission begins

- Study mission day 1

- Rural life near Buenos Aires

- Notes from speakers on Argentina, associations and their legal structure, certification, and more

- Last day in Buenos Aires

The study mission departs today for Sao Paolo. To follow along with Bo's posts as he continues to report on the trip, visit the main page of his blog, On the Go with Bo.

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April 20, 2010

Quick Clicks: Tuesday thought exercises

Welcome to this week's edition of Quick Clicks! And thanks to all of the association bloggers who give us great stuff to link to.

- Judith Lindenau has been undertaking a fascinating thought exercise at the Off Stage blog: Realtor associations traditionally have been able to rely on strong revenue from their Multiple Listing Services. But what if they didn't have an MLS? Where would their revenue come from? She's written four posts in the series so far. I hope non-Realtor associations are inspired to consider what they would do if their largest revenue stream no longer existed.

- Jamie Notter has a really interesting post on strategic planning and why it's skewed toward relevance (and why that's not a good thing). I'm looking forward to the follow-up post he promises for later this week.

- The Plexus Consulting blog considers demand elasticity and why associations need to prepare for it.

- Jake McKee shares a striking example of community members who really love their community. Does your association inspire that kind of connection for your members?

- The Harvard Business Press blogs feature a number of fantastic writers, but a couple of posts really stood out for me this week: Peter Bregman writes on confirmation bias and how it can hurt us in personnel management; Ranjay Gulati discusses what it really means for an organization to be customer-centric.

- Christine Melendes at the PCMA Membership Blog uses the Masters golf tournament as a springboard to discuss your association's "green jacket moments."

- Jeff De Cagna has posted a podcast interview with author and innovation expert Alex Osterwalder on business model generation.

- Ellen Behrens digs into the difference between an informative event and an infodump. On a related note, Jeff Hurt recently shared his thoughts on why you need to awaken your attendees' sense of curiosity.

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April 19, 2010

What's the value of eleventy zillion tweets?

The Library of Congress made some waves last week with its announcement that it will archive every Twitter tweet, EVER.

Maggie McGary at mizz information chimed in on this: "... to be able to get hashtagged tweets from past events or promotions? Heck yes I want them!"

Shannon Otto over at the Splash blog offered her thoughts, too: "Now, I don't really think future scholars are going to be interested in some of the trite things I share on my own Twitter account, but taken as a whole, our collective tweets are probably fascinating."

I've been on Twitter for about a year now, but count me in the "skeptical" column in regard to how much value can be derived from a large archive of tweets. Or, to be more precise, I'm skeptical that the power to derive that value is within the reach of associations.

I was involved in an effort here last year to classify tweets from the 2009 Annual Meeting. It was incredibly daunting, to say the least, and I'm not sure we got the ROI we wanted on it (though the process was a good learning experience, for sure). And last week, an attendee at the Digital Now conference (Dan Scheeler, whom some of you may know) made a nice spreadsheet with every tweet that had the #diginow hashtag. I applaud Dan's effort, and I wanted to be able to do something with the list of tweets (nearly 2,700 of them), but I was at a complete loss, totally overwhelmed.

My suspicion is that Shannon is on the right track in saying that the value might lie in "our collective tweets." Four years ago, right after I moved to Washington, DC, I went to an art exhibit where an artist had printed the headline of every A1 top story from every issue of The New York Times since 1900 (or maybe even earlier), end on end, line after line. It filled two eight-foot canvasses. Each headline had a color background that corresponded to the topic of the story. Standing back from the canvas, you could see how topics emerged and faded over time (Cold War, gas crisis, the internet, etc.) or spiked around certain events (Pearl Harbor, JFK assassination, 9/11, etc.). I remember thinking, "Wow, this is neat," but that's about as much value as I could find from it.

And that's the way I see a large bank of tweets. It's like turning on a recorder in a room with 100 people where 25 different conversations are going on (b/c that's basically what tweets are, just in electronic format). I'm not sure I want that information. If anyone can find a way to analyze that information, it's someone like the Library of Congress, or Google, or some other data analysis firm with vast resources.

But until then, is archiving all those tweets more trouble than it's worth? My gut feeling is yes.

A basic truth about Twitter, though, is that it's such a malleable tool that everyone finds it valuable for a different reason. Maybe I'm just missing something. If any of you association social media types out there have some good, practical suggestions here, let us know.

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April 16, 2010

Cooperation: Catch the fever!

Came across an interesting article about social "contagions" last week on Slate. It points to recent studies that have indicated that behaviors or qualities like smoking and drinking habits, obesity, and even loneliness can spread from one person to others (not via physical "infections," but psychologically).

They mention some positive behaviors that are contagious as well, one of them being cooperation. One study says "cooperation and 'paying it forward' by one person can infect dozens if not hundreds of people" and reach "others as far as three degrees of separation."

Some obvious implications for associations here, of course. We're in the business of moving large groups of people to action, fostering volunteering and collaboration, and so on. If cooperative behavior is indeed measurably contagious, it would behoove us all to be doctors and treat the condition in the reverse: facilitate the actions and environmental qualities that would allow cooperation to "infect" as many people as possible.

Those articles are a good read, so check them out. Here's hoping this area of study yields further conclusions that could help associations drive engagement and foster collaboration. Those of you who regularly work directly with members and volunteers, any ideas or thoughts about what methods can help the collaborative spirit go viral?

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April 15, 2010

Another look: Uncommon sensical HR practices

I scooped myself.

Please pardon this very brief detour into inside ASAE & The Center baseball (we try to steer clear of talking about ASAE & The Center operational stuff here on Acronym), but the other day I was talking with people from the Finance and Business Operations (FBO) Council about their FBO Core Competencies (pdf) document, and how it could make nice additions to Associapedia. In reviewing the document again, I noticed one of the core competencies was understanding "the importance of keeping compensation information confidential."

For quite a while now, I've thought that the opposite--publishing everyone's salary for all to see--would actually be a better practice that leads to a more healthy organization. I thought it would be a good post for Money Month, but I had a vague recollection of writing on the topic on Acronym before (that's part of the danger when you've been writing on a blog for four years). Turns out, I did, two years ago as part of something I dubbed "Uncommon Sensical HR Practices Week."

So I went back and read all six of my posts, and it made me feel good about myself. I like the descriptions of those six principles, and since most of them touch on money at least in some way (and one of the reasons behind Money Month was to help draw attention to the Financial and Business Operations Symposium, and all 6 practices are related to FBO, which covers the HR area), I've decided to recap here. Plus I'll add in two more quickies.

Uncommon Sensical HR Practice 1: Don't make it so hard to fire people. Use the hiring and firing decisions much more liberally to ensure your organization has the right people in the right jobs.

Uncommon Sensical HR Practice 2: In most cases, don't be so rigid with workday hours. Allow staff to come and go and work and balance their personal lives in ways that makes sense to them--as long as they're doing the job, who cares if they leave for two hours in the middle of the day?

Uncommon Sensical HR Practice 3: Stop bothering to keep track of sick leave and vacation. Good employees (and they're all good employees, because if they're not, then you're using the hiring and firing decisions) can come and go as needed, and they should be strongly encouraged to take time to rest and rejuvenate.

Uncommon Sensical HR Practice 4: Stop the abominable review process and be more open about raises.

Uncommon Sensical HR Practice 5: Publish everyone's salary.

Uncommon Sensical HR Practice 6: Scrap the page-long dress code policy with the dos and don'ts. Replace with five words: "Don't embarrass the company."

And now two bonus quickies:

7. Except for the first one, these practices are all about staff empowerment, even freedom. Here's one that's not. Have a detailed process for staff to follow to debrief after they attend professional development activities--try to make them use the information they learned.

8. Document and celebrate failures as the learning moments they are. Encourage people to talk about decisions they've made that they, in retrospect, think could have been made better. Give a bonus or reward for the best of these learning moments.

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April 14, 2010

The next wave: semantic web

One more post from last week's Digital Now conference that I didn't get a chance to write while I was there.

For the second time in three years, the conference has brought in a speaker to talk about the "semantic web" and "semantic search," which are shaping up to be the next wave in internet structure and search and could have broad ripple effects. It could also be a huge boon for or threat to association website content, so it's worth learning about now as it emerges.

In my own plain English, semantic web and search are a form of internet data structure and search that do a far better job conveying and understanding the meaning of language than current tools do.

Right now, if you want to do research on tigers (the animal) on the internet, you'll have to sort through a lot of search results related to Tiger Woods, the Detroit Tigers, the Mac operating system, and so on. Semantic web structure and search use advanced metadata and search algorithms to deduce more nuanced meaning from text and return better search results. It can recognize that a web page that includes the word "tiger" and also the words "Asia," "feline," and "endangered," is much more likely to be relevant to your quest for info on tigers than a page with the word "golf" on it. They call it "semantic" because it aims to understand the meanings of words, rather than just the mere presence of them. It's an emerging field in which a lot of startups are developing technologies and tools (the one represented at Digital Now was TextDigger, by CEO Timothy Musgrove).

So anyway, how is this relevant to association work? Well, first check out what's been discussed recently about content curation and how it's a big tactical opportunity for associations. The argument is that associations (read: people who work or volunteer at associations) can fill the role of sorting through the avalanche of information on the web and delivering the most important stuff to their members. Semantic web and search are aiming to, essentially, automate this role by making it exponentially easier to classify and find information on the web.

Is this good or bad for associations? I'm really not sure. TextDigger, for instance, wants to provide content aggregation services, meaning you could leverage the power of semantic search to fill your website with highly targeted information and also sort through your own information in a highly specific way. But a lot of other companies out there could do the same thing without you. If semantic search tools elsewhere on the web gave people the power to find information relevant to them without having to turn to professional associations for expert filtering, that might spell trouble. (Heck, Google is already halfway there with its current form of search.)

We might be years away from semantic web and search becoming widely effective, but a lot of people are calling it "Web 3.0." And it wasn't all that long ago that what we now know as "Web 2.0" seemed far off, so this next wave is worth keeping an eye on.

I've probably done a poor job of explaining semantic web and search here, so you should check out more info if you're interested:

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April 12, 2010

Quick Clicks: Monday morning metaphors

Good morning, and welcome to a Monday edition of Quick Clicks!

- Acronym's Big Ideas Month helped to inspire an unconference aimed at creating an innovative future for the association community, taking place April 22 in Washington, DC. Jeff De Cagna posted more information on the Hacking Associations Unconference here.

- Jamie Notter posted his thoughts about the recent Acronym post that was removed from the blog.

- Jamie also posted an interesting series on leadership skills needed in today's organizations, including truth, courage, and curiosity.

- Elizabeth Weaver Engel has a great post on some of the forces that she thinks are shaping associations today.

- Shelly Alcorn recently posted the last post in her five-part series on how Jim Collins' book How the Mighty Fall can apply to associations. (If you haven't read the first four posts, she links to all of them in the first paragraph.)

- A very interesting post on meeting conference attendees' expectations by Amber Naslund (thanks for the link are due to Shannon Otto at the Splash blog). Representative quote: "We have a fundamental disconnect between what people say they want from a conference session, and what can realistically be delivered under existing models."

- Jeffrey Cufaude is thinking about organizational change efforts, using automotive metaphors; he's posted on detours and dead ends, and what it's like in the passenger seat during such change efforts.

- Eric Lanke at the Hourglass Blog ponders when good leaders make the decision to pull the plug on projects.

- At the LeaderConnect blog, Rebecca Rolfes considers the board-staff dynamic at associations and how it might impact the way associations approach the future.

- Judith Lindenau at the Off Stage blog discusses the collapse of complex societies, Clay Shirky, and how both of those things apply to realtor associations.

- Maddie Grant is also thinking about Clay Shirky and his principle that "Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution."

- Association blogger David Gammel has launched a new blog, Orgpreneur, which will focus on "entrepreneurship in pursuit of goals that matter."

- Andy Sernovitz discusses the importance of leaving a good last impression on your departing customers, with some advice associations could certainly use to help improve relations with departing members.

- Blue Avocado recently published an article by Ellis Robinson on eight strategic mistakes nonprofits can make with memberships.

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April 9, 2010

Forget cause and effect

In various presentations, questions, and discussions at Digital Now, I've been seeing an interesting theme emerging: cause and effect are getting to be very, very difficult to pin down, and that's just something association leaders have to learn how to live with.

Some form of this question has come up several times in just a day and a half: "How do I monetize this?"

And the consistent answer has been, "Well, you don't really. You make your money elsewhere."

It came up in the session about free yesterday. It came up in a session about building online engagement today. Repeatedly, the answer to drawing financial gain from social media, publications, engagement, and many education efforts is now an indirect one. For example, you create a presence in several social media outlets, you engage with people, they build community around you, and then some of them might buy something from you. Or some of them might join your association. Or the ones who are already members become more likely to renew. Or you sell advertising to people who want to reach that market. You get the idea.

One panelist says we operate in "an ecosystem" where it's increasingly difficult to draw straight lines.

Another says he doesn't like the term ROI (return on investment) in social media; he prefers ROA: return on attention.

We touched on the indirect nature of returns on social media efforts back in November when I argued that social media evangelists have to talk to their CEOs about social media in dollar values. That was a healthy discussion, because translating social media into dollar value isn't easy, and that lack of direct cause-and-effect relationship is hard to sell to leaders or to boards.

It's why warning signs on electric fences work a lot better than warning labels on cigarette packs. The link between cause and effect in the former is a lot clearer (touch the fence, instant death) than the latter (smoke a lot, die of lung cancer 30 years from now).

Of course, you could see this all as a counterpoint to the message from Ian Ayres earlier today about the need for more statistical analysis to inform our decisions. Randomized testing is designed exactly to discern cause and effect. His point, though, is that it takes a lot of discipline and effort to track data, build samples, and test accurately, but it can indeed be done. Cause and effect, or at least strong correlations, can be discovered through data analysis.

And so maybe this isn't a counterpoint so much as it is a complement to the earlier post. As we acknowledge the increasingly complex ways in which business models for associations will work, we must grow more comfortable with a lack of direct cause-and-effect relationships. Or, if we must have those answers, our methods for connecting Point A and Point B must become more sophisticated as well.

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Crowdsourcing without the crowd knowing about it

Professor and author Ian Ayres delivered the Friday morning keynote at Digital Now, urging associations to adopt more statistical regression and randomized testing to better inform their decisions. If you're not, he says, "you're screwing up."

Why? Because, even if you think you're an expert, humans simply aren't good at predicting outcomes in situations that involve multiple driving factors.

In fact, Ayres picked the title of his book, Super Crunchers, via a randomized test through Google AdWords. Some searchers saw an ad for "Super Crunchers," and some saw an ad for "The End of Intuition," (Ayres' personal choice). More people clicked on "Super Crunchers," and so that title won.

I've seen other authors who have openly crowdsourced the titles of their books. Ayres did it blindly. The crowd didn't know it was being measured.

Of course, associations have their own built-in crowds, and Ayres says associations should more actively test anything and everything. "You routinely get a 5 percent to 10 percent lift in whatever numbers you care about when you do randomized testing," he says.

Just a few measurements associations can test:

  • Member acquisition or renewal probabilities
  • Member lifetime value
  • Any and all marketing copy
  • Website design

Ayres says the web has made statistical testing much more accessible because making adjustments is easy and cheap, as is gaining a large sample size.

My key takeaway from Ayres' presentation is that associations should trust numbers more (and get their boards to trust them, as well). We often overreact to complaints from members or feedback from evaluations. Broader statistical analysis of how members behave, rather than what a few of them tell you, can let you know whether the ones who are speaking up are representative of the full membership or merely outliers.

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April 8, 2010

Examples of "free" in action at associations

A morning panel discussion at Digital Now offered up a bunch of examples of associations using the "free" model in various ways. Panel moderator Mark Golden, CAE, executive director and CEO of the National Court Reporters Association, used Chris Anderson's book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, as a framework for the discussion; you can get the crash course on Free via Anderson's article on the same topic from Wired magazine.

We've debated free here on Acronym before, but often without many association examples. So it was great to hear stories from associations that are trying it. Anyway, on with the examples:

  • At the Association for Information and Image Management, basic membership is free, while premium membership is $125.
  • AIIM also offers six online courses for free to give people a free sample of the quality of its additional courses. AIIM President John Mancini, cautions, however, that even being required to email to request an access code is a "cost" that detracted from the number of people who took up AIIM's offer.
  • The American Library Association and AIIM also offer free webinars that are sponsored by industry partners. Mary Ghikas, CAE, senior associate executive director of ALA and Mancini of AIIM each reported that these sponsorships are significant revenue generators for their associations, and they're also attractive to sponsors because the audience for a specialized webinar is a niche market by default (b/c it signed up for the webinar).
  • The Project Management Institute has greater success with free webinars at its chapter level, because sponsors can gain exposure to a geographically local market, says Mark Langley, PMI executive vice president and COO.
  • The American Counseling Association pays for student liability insurance for its student members. What would be a $25 insurance policy for these students to buy on their own becomes an attractive incentive for them to pay $85 to join ACA, says ACA executive director Richard Yep, CAE.
  • ACA also established a syllabus clearinghouse for its members. Access is free and the content is user generated (in that it's just an exchange of information among members), but the syllabi often list the books that professors assign in their classes. ACA sells those books.

These were just examples from the panelists. Others came up in discussion from the audience:

  • The American Geophysical Union has an "almost free" model. Its basic membership rate is $20 per year. Revenue comes from everything else that AGU sells to that broad membership audience.
  • Another audience member pointed out that the model above is the same as that of AARP.
  • The American Institute of Architects offered portions of its annual meeting for free online in 2009, which attracted more than 2,000 viewers, most of whom were new to the annual meeting. (Coincidentally, this was part of a feature in this month's issue of Associations Now: "Hybrid Meetings That Offer the Best of Both Worlds.")

And another version of free came up in a separate session about membership models:

  • The American Dental Education Association recently changed to an "open membership" model, in which its individual membership fee went from $125 per year to $0 (it also has institutional members). ADEA went from 2,000 individual members to 18,000. That expanded audience can be sold to, of course, but it also has enhanced the level of engagement, community, and educational quality at ADEA.

The moral of the story here from all of these examples? "Free" doesn't have to be completely revolutionary. It doesn't have to completely destroy your business model. Most of these examples above are rather simple and straightforward and could be emulated at other associations rather easily.

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Habits for innovation

Today, Friday, and Saturday, I'm at the Digital Now conference, and I'll be posting thoughts from various sessions while I'm here.

First up is opening keynote Andrew Zolli, curator and executive director of Pop!Tech and a fellow at the National Geographic Society. More simply put, Zolli is a futurist.

Zolli shared the common qualities he sees in the world's most innovative leadership teams:

  • They make the top (their executives) accountable.
  • They make lots of small bets on future developments. (For the baseball-inclined, "They're winning the game on singles," Zolli says.)
  • They invest in their employers who are closest to the customers, i.e. the bottom third of their organizations.
  • They copy best practices sparingly. ("Best practices are outcomes, not inputs.")
  • They take a "cognitive portfolio approach." (In plain English, they assemble a wide diversity of perspectives and thinking styles.)
  • They scan for "weak signals." (Zolli says it's the slow changes in the world that have the biggest effects, not the fast ones.)
  • They link up with unlikely partners.

Zolli named demographic changes, the rising power of networks, and mobile tech as the slow, powerful changes that we all must adapt to. Those are all deep topics for further discussion later, but the points Zolli mentions above about future-thinking organizations seem like a good checklist for any association board and staff leadership team to try to follow in order to give themselves the capacity to adapt and innovate.

For real-time updates from Digital Now, you can follow the conversation on Twitter via the #diginow hashtag.

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April 6, 2010

Where new ideas go to die

In honor of ASAE & The Center's Financial and Business Operations Symposium next month (it starts one month from today), we decided to give April a mini-theme: Money Month. It's "mini" because we've only got a few posts scheduled to cover the topic, but who knows, maybe by the time the month is over, it will be something bigger.

I'd rather start with something more upbeat or positive, but, well, when I was thinking about what to write, I kept falling back to an electronic mailing list discussion that took place a while ago. In it, someone asked how to account for unbudgeted spending when a need arises. CFO after CFO chimed in saying they don't, only their boards can approve new spending. It sounds to me like those are associations where new ideas go to die. So how do you balance the governance tenet of fiduciary responsibility and the need for an organization to be nimble and seize opportunity? Several ideas spring to mind:

I covered this idea before, but I think the whole notion of budgeting and accounting needs an overhaul. Rather than developing a 12-month budget 9 months before that budget starts, followed by financial reporting back based on that budget, make the whole process much more fluid. Choose shorter intervals, no less than quarterly, and use the financial reporting to create an entirely new budget that covers the next interval and projects two or four intervals into the future. Budget approval every single time.

Have a fund that is X% (2 or 4 maybe?) of your operating budget that the board earmarks for unbudgeted items to be used at the discretion of the CEO. The smart association will develop a system and culture for using this money and assessing the results. The catch: There should be a policy of some sort that says this money is not the first thing chopped if financials are below budget. Otherwise, it will just get chopped most years.

I'm sure there are plenty of other ideas about how an association can have the financial flexibility to pursue new ideas. Here's what not to do:

Don't use gimmicks or tricks or cheats. I know of examples where new ideas can find funding as long as an equal amount is taken away from something else. Even if you're transparent about it, you're taking the fiduciary responsibility away from the board.

Second, and this is the biggest sin to me, don't use the approved budget excuse to silence new ideas. If there's a reason the organization shouldn't do something, then use real reasons. No one wins, no one learns, when talk of a new idea that needs funding is stopped dead by saying it's not in the approved budget so we can't do it.

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April 2, 2010

Ask why, not just what

A couple weeks ago, I volunteered as a judge for an awards program. When I originally signed up for this duty and when I filled out an online evaluation survey about my volunteer experience, I was asked "Why do/did you want to serve as a judge for this program?"

I like that I was asked that question. It had an open-text answer field, so I explained in my own words why I volunteered, and I hope the association is able to use that info to its advantage. It was a good reminder to me that the answers to "why" questions are extremely valuable in a way that the answers to "what" questions can't quite reach.

Consider these two "what" questions that could appear on any member or volunteer application or survey:

  • What types of resources or educational programs are you most interested in receiving or attending?
  • What types of volunteer opportunities would you be most interested in?

And now consider these two "why" questions:

  • Why did you join this association?
  • Why did you sign up to volunteer?

In either case, you'll get some pretty good info about your members (quantifiable data, even, if you do it right), which you can use to match your offers with the appropriate segments of your members. The difference between the two, however, is the difference between interests and motivations.

It's great to know that a member is interested in writing for your journal. It's even better to know that she's interested in writing for your journal because:

  • She sees it as a prestigious publication in which to appear.
  • Or, her company wants to gain exposure for a new product it has developed.
  • Or, she is writer by training and she wants to exercise her writing muscles in a way that she isn't able to in her normal job.

These are three very different motivations, and knowing which one applies gives you the ability to directly appeal to that intrinsic, personal benefit when informing that member of future events, products, and volunteer opportunities.

But you can't get that info about motivations if you don't ask "why."

I told the association for which I volunteered that I wanted to serve as a judge to see and learn from the best examples of work in our industry. The networking was nice, sure, and so was the sense of contribution to industry, but learning from the best definitely topped my list.

If that association leads with "learning from the best" the next time it tells me about an event or a chance to volunteer, I'll be more likely to sign up.

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April 1, 2010

Quick Clicks: Think outside the office

Welcome to the latest edition of Quick Clicks! I'm actually on vacation for a few days (Scott has kindly agreed to make sure this post goes live while I'm out), so I'm wishing all of you a good day from a remote location.

Here are some of the latest and most interesting posts from the association blogging world:

- There's been some passionate discussion of the decision to remove a recent post here on Acronym. (All other elements of that discussion aside, I'm personally grateful that we have readers who take Acronym so seriously and care so much about whether or not that decision was a good one to make.) KiKi L'Italien considers several sides to the debate, while Shannon Otto comes at the issue from a journalistic perspective. Elizabeth Weaver Engel added her take to her weekly "What I'm Reading" post.

- Deirdre Reid posted a "New Volunteer Manifesto" (and a great discussion sprang up in comments). Deidre will be expanding on her manifesto in a new weekly column on the SmartBlog Insights blog. Maddie Grant highlights some of her favorite aspects of the manifesto in a SocialFish post.

- Peggy Hoffman continues her "Truths About Volunteering" series with truth #17.

- Jamie Notter makes a case for three new leadership mindsets for the future.

- Marsha Rhea at the SignatureI blog offers some advice for associations dealing with chronic unresolved issues.

- The Plexus Consulting blog has some questions about the line between a working environment that's too comfortable and one that's too stressful.

- Jeff Hurt at Midcourse Corrections has some very interesting thoughts on why you shouldn't crowdsource your next conference.

- Speaking of conferences, Joe Gerstandt would like to ask why your commitment to diversity isn't fully reflected in your conference's speaker lineup. And Lauren Fernandez wants to know why more panel discussions don't include a contrarian point of view.

- Jeffrey Cufaude continues his great "What If Wednesdays" series with a post on expiration dates for new products. I love this idea!

- Tony Rossell encourages us to shift from a cost-control mindset to a growth mindset, before it's too late.

- Kerry Stackpole tells a story about the power of passion when it's combined with persistence.

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