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Quick clicks: Communication challenges edition

This week's collection of association expertise from around the interwebs includes a variety of viewpoints on the challenges and practices of conveying information, whether to members, colleagues, decision makers, a seated audience, or your board. Enjoy.

Focused messaging. Cindy Butts, CAE, tells the story of 28 associations meeting with the Maine governor-elect, with each group allowed 90 seconds to convey its message. It's a format I wonder if an association could employ, and the story also makes you think about how well you'd do at condensing your association's mission or key initiative into 90 seconds.

What do members know? Eric Lanke, CAE, thinks your members are stupid. Well, not really. Not stupid in the common sense of the word; more in the economist's view of an uninformed consumer. Eric says most association members vastly underestimate the cost of association services, and he wonders if better information might allow associations to cut costs without making members upset.

Boring conference sessions: DOA. Jeff Hurt is finding increasingly creative ways to lament over poor conference education, this time with a mock obituary for a conference education session. At the end, he offers two important questions that, if answered, could save a session's life.

Trust. Jamie Notter recaps a presentation on trust that he gave last week at an association conference, calling trust among a board of directors a "secret weapon for dealing with complexity." In the comments, Jeff De Cagna and Jamie have an interesting exchange, as Jeff wonders whether too much trust can be detrimental.

Boards do the darnedest things. Dan Pallotta's blog at Harvard Business Review is one of my favorites, simply for his boldness; he makes no effort to mask his utter disdain for the ingrained practices of nonprofit organizations. This week, he marvels at the ineptitude of meddlesome nonprofit boards, calling for better training about a board's proper role. I think Dan and Roy Snell, whose guest column "Is Your Board Run Amok?" appears in this month's issue of Associations Now, should get together.

Shirkyisms. Elizabeth Engel, CAE, continues her periodic glimpses into Clay Shirky's modern classic Here Comes Everybody. She quotes Shirky's thoughts about Wikipedia and then pushes associations to consider how they can better accommodate varying levels of contribution among wide audiences.

New website. Joe Flowers at the National Association of Dental Plans offers a before-and-after look at NADP's new website, the latest update in a series of posts from Joe during the 18-month overhaul process.

Hiring. A lot of millennials applying for jobs at your association might come with a personal brand, because they're active bloggers, Twitterers, social movers, etc. So is that a plus or a minus in the hiring decision? Colleen Dilenschneider says it's a plus and offers three reasons why.

Learning. In honor of Employee Learning Week, Ellen Behrens suggests seven easy ways you can advance your own professional development. "You can't nourish your members educationally if your own head is empty!" she says.



Yes, Boards of Directors should not micromanage. But Pallotta's example of Steve Jobs making a unilateral decision for Apple is not instructive of how organizations should operate.

Not-for-profits wisely divide governance and operations so that CEOs don't gamble away other people's assets. If you own a company and want to take a chance, it's your money on the line.

But in a not-for-profit, it's not your money, so it is appropriate for another body (Board of Directors) to have to pass judgement on some matters.

Pallotta, though, did not differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate Board involvement. He simply declared that for-profit = good management and not-for-profit = bad management. He's wrong.

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