I went to the Association Technology Wheel of Fortune session at ASAE's 2010 Technology Conference and Expo. Yes, right off the bat I was a little disappointed there was no Vanna.
The session itself was essentially a complete Q&A--the audience simply asked questions of a panel of four experts. The Wheel of Fortune part was a crafty little gimmick to enliven the session; it was the last session of the day ending after 5 p.m. after all. I liked the gimmick (Vanna or no Vanna), and I liked the session, particularly because it surprised me. I thought perhaps the session would be about configuring a network in the cloud or converting to IP telephony or smartly moving from cables to wireless. It wasn't. This group of IT leaders were asking questions that had to do with organizational culture, productivity, interpersonal relationships, and prioritization. They weren't asking how to convert their Flash-based media workflows into HTML-5 output.
They wanted to know how to change the attitude of a coworker. The themes I picked up were power, influence, persuasion, decision making, culture, etc. So I was surprised in the session, but I shouldn't have been. These are the hard things about our jobs, right? When I was leading Associations Now, these were the sorts of article topics that I thought could make the biggest difference. Skills? Knowledge? These are easily learned. But the messy interpersonal/organizational culture stuff--that's what's hard.
So to all who attended the Technology Conference (and anyone else who works as part of an organization), I offer these decidedly non-techie articles to help you answer the hardest questions about your job.
Innovation Personified by Tom Kelley, Associations Now, February 2006: As a manager, you get the best out of your team by helping them find the types of roles they are most suited for and helping them fulfill those roles.
Change of Heart by Dan S. Cohen, Associations Now, January 2006: People rarely change their mind for analytical reasons, you have to reach them emotionally.
Ask the Persuasion Expert by Jay Heinrichs, Associations Now, August 2008: Format for this article is, uh, different, but tips on how to be persuasive are right on.
What's Your Agenda by Lynda McDaniel, Associations Now, July 2008: Understand that personal agendas are inevitable...and not necessarily bad.
Idea Champions by G. Richard Shell and Mario Moussa, Associations Now, February 2008: Another persuasion piece, this one on how to sell an idea.
A Turn for the Better by Sharon Raden, Associations Now, October 2009: Getting personnel and job roles back into alignment.
Tangled in Your Head Wires, Interview of Charles Jacobs by Joe Rominiecki, Associations Now, September 2009: Management goes all neuroscience.
Wake Up! by Kristin Clarke, CAE, Associations Now, February 2009: Help with prioritization.
Sticking to It by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Associations Now, February 2007: Learning prioritization and persistence.