September 01, 2006

What did Mary think?

We interviewed Mary Childress right before the first time attendee orientation. Today, I caught up with Mary via phone to see if ASAE & The Center's Annual Meeting lived up to her expectations. Have a listen!

August 24, 2006

ROI: Priceless

It"s time to go back to work. Another day, another dollar, right?

Well, tomorrow will start off a little different than my last full day at work. For one thing, I have several pages of notes to download and print out, and meetings to hold to go over them, and numerous good ideas to evaluate in the bright daylight. It's the usual "return-from-a-conference-and-compare-notes-and-see-what-works" kind of thing.

But it's more than that. Isn't it?

I go to ASAE for nuts and bolts concepts and suggestions and this-idea-works and this-idea-failed, no doubt. I'm fairly hard-nosed about it. We spend a lot of money and demand a good ROI. And I already know, we got a good one this year. We already began going over things with our staff during the meeting.

But hard-nosed business thinking aside, there are other, deeper reasons to invest in the ASAE meeting. Like, the difficult-to-quantify-but-oh-so-valuable (wow, I'm really into hyphenated phrases tonight) sensation of "being away" from our association yet at the same time being immersed in associations. As association staff, we spend all of our time deeply immersed in the industry or profession we represent. That's a terrific thing on the one hand, because those are our members, our customers, our markets.

On the other hand, it can be so damned isolating -- and one of the most valuable things about the ASAE annual meeting is that it saves us from that isolation, and we find ourselves suddenly surrounded by people who work for completely different industries or professions, but who understand. We can talk freely about cracks in the overall association business model, membership campaigns that were bad ideas from the start, those precious moments when we snatched victory from the jaws of defeat (and nobody else seemed to notice) --- and everybody else at the table knows just what we're talking about.

I came away from this year's meeting with a full to-do list, some new contacts to add to my Outlook, and most importantly, a renewed sense of energy to tackle the challenges waiting for me tomorrow morning. Some folks seem overly concerned about comparing last year in Nashville to this year in Boston, which to me is silly, because the two venues were so completely different that they made for completely different kinds of events.

You did great, ASAE. This meeting has already made an impact on my organization and I'm looking forward to the dividends I'll get from it all year long. I don't know about you, but I can't wait for Chicago ... and we'll be back.

August 23, 2006

A magnificent end to the meeting....

View image

Here's what the Boston Pops looked like (well, sort of) during Tuesday night's closing concert at the Bank of America Pavilion. A great time was had by of the 60s and 70s sung beautifully by Tony nominee Liz Callaway, rousing patriotic numbers, songs from the Tanglewood Festival Chorus...and sing-alongs!

Conductor Keith Lockhart and the Pops wowed everyone, and the appreciative crowd gave standing ovations to the performers throughout the performance!

August 22, 2006

A shift in perspective

More from the innovation session...

What if we looked at member complaints as the seeds of new products and services?

If members are complaining, they're not happy with the way things are. Are you listening to the patterns in customer/member complaints? What are they telling you? Are there ideas for doing things differently that you can explore?

3M invented "Super-Sticky Post-It notes" because of so many customer complaints about "regular" Sticky Notes always falling off the old big-box computer monitors.

Imagine that.

Technology Tips

Just a few of the 52 tips shared:

Use the Outlook today view mode of Outlook to preview your day (your appointements, tasks, number of unread e-mails).

Check to see if your cell phone has coverage in the town you're going to at

Use to start selling digital download on your website.

Experiment with podcasting at

A process for innovation...

Blogging in "Creating a Culture of Innovation," facilitated by Paul Meyer and Jeff De Cagna...

Jeff just outlined a six-step process for innovation:
Imagine a possibility - encourage everyone (staff and board) to imagine
Ideate the possibility - give people the opportunity to generate ideas (members and staff)
Inquire into the idea - learn more about it, just enough to make a decision
Initiate - create the idea
Implement - put the idea out there, even if it's not perfect (especially if it's not; waiting for perfection may result in a lost opportunity)
Impact - what is the result of the idea and its implementation?

Ideas generated are reviewed by an "innovation council" of middle-level folks (not at most senior level of organization) representing a cross-section of departments (about 10 folks). This group makes decisions about which ideas move forward. Engaging those closest to members sends a very powerful message about the value given to innovation. Besides, the senior folks will have a chance to look at them eventually.

Innovation doesn't have to be only for big projects, either...not everything has to be the new "Google" or the next "Post-It note."

Rediscovering Play

Kevin Carroll, who calls himself a Katalyst for Change, is talking about fun, work and change. He has quite the interesting life story -- from abandoned child of alcoholics to well-educated, six-language-speaking athletic trainer for the '76ers and the Yugoslavian Olympic team, to create-your-own-title executive at Nike. He attributes his success to a "red rubber ball," and you really need to be here to get the whole story as to how the red rubber ball made a difference in his life.

Highly engaging guy with lots of props and gifts -- he has the audience wrapped up. My battery is starting to dwindle so I'll try to post some notes later.