15 March 2013

New Home

If you're a regular reader, you probably know by now that I started my own business, Spark Consulting, this past summer.

My new website has been live in a dev environment since November, but it recently moved to its permanent home.

With that, it's time to retire Thanks for Playing, at least in its current incarnation.

I still blog just about every week day, only now I'm doing it over at the Spark Blog. So please come join me in my new environment to keep the association awesomesauce flowing. (Oh - and hook me up with your RSS feed here.)

06 March 2013

What I'm Reading

05 March 2013

You! Stop That!

Buzz words. What a disaster. You think they make you sound cool and in-the-know. They actually make you sound like a doofus who doesn't care that she's murdering the English language. So stop it already! (Also, excellent graphics.)

Also? Stop slapping "-ize" on to the end of everything. Really. RIGHT NOW.

And finally, thesaurus.com really is your friend.

04 March 2013

Always the Last to Know: Facebook Insights

Not getting the most out of your Facebook ads? John Haydon breaks down how to use Facebook Insights to better target your outreach.

27 February 2013

What I'm Reading

  • What you can - and can't - learn from A/B testing.
  • Another fantastic, challenging post from Joe Gerstandt on actor-observer bias and the myth of reverse discrimination.
  • Fear = lunch. No really, stick with Jeff Haden here.
  • The insights that define innovators. Hearing "we already tried that and it didn't work" DRIVES ME CRAZY.
  • Eric Lanke asks: why are we so afraid to talk to our members?
  • Jamie Notter reminds us that every revolution has a dark side.
  • Hiring? Does your new staff person REALLY have to have a college degree, or are there better signals you could be using?
  • Break your addiction to meetings. Seven months in to working for myself, I still cannot get over how much more I get done when I'm not spending 50% of each day in meetings.

26 February 2013

Strategic Planning v. Strategic Thinking

Lots of chatter about strategy and strategic planning on the ASAE Collaborate groups recently, with lots of people throwing around lots of VERY IMPORTANT sounding terms.

Me, I like simplicity. To quote the Eaglet from Alice in Wonderland: "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and, what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

What do we mean when we talk about strategy?

Strategy is a plan of action designed to help you achieve a set of goals. The best strategies answer a few deceptively simple questions:
  • Where are we now?
  • Where would we like to be?
  • How are we going to get there?
  • How will we know we arrived?
The way that tends to manifest in associations is that every 3 to 5 years, we hire an outside facilitator to sit down with the board and - maybe - the senior leadership team and do "strategic planning." The inevitable result? A lovely report that spends the next 35 to 59 months sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

Meanwhile, the world is changing EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Henry Mintzberg wrote a famous article for the Harvard Business Review in 1994 (that's almost 20 years ago, people) titled “The Fall and Rise of Strategic Planning.” Short version: he's not a fan. As Mintzberg points out, strategic planning is about analysis of data, while strategic thinking is about synthesis of data. Strategic planning is a process (see above, RE: report that sits on a shelf), while strategic thinking is about vision, intuition, and creativity. In other words, about where you would like to be as an organization and how you get there,

Dissecting strategic thinking versus strategic planning:
  • Dynamic rather than static
  • Flexible rather than rigid
  • Continuous rather than episodic
  • Focused on emergent trends rather than historic standards
  • Rapid rather than staid
  • Fluid rather than fixed
  • Invention rather than reifying what already exists
  • Journey rather than destination
  • Accommodates disruption rather than being thrown into chaos by it
Again, quoting Mintzberg:
“Strategic planning often spoils strategic thinking, causing managers to confuse real vision with manipulation of numbers. And this confusion lies at the heart of the issue: the most successful strategies are visions, not plans.”

What are you doing to generate a vision of the future in your organization?

25 February 2013

Always the Last to Know: Apps for Creativity

Another roundup-style post on cool technology, this time of apps to help you be more creative (courtesy of Innovation Excellence, which you really should check out). The only one I've used personally is Evernote, and I live and die by it, so if the others are of that same quality, you really can't miss.