30 March 2012

Friday Top 5

I recently spotted a large metal chicken sculpture on my evening walk, and it put me in mind of today's top 5: the Top 5 Funniest Things I've Ever Read Online (warning: put down your drink before following any of these links):
  1. Viva la Roombalucion! I first read this SEVEN years ago, and it still makes me laugh so hard I cry.
  2. Point/Counterpoint: My Computer Hates Me.
  3. Knock, knock, Mo-Fo.
  4. How to make your shopping cart suck less.
  5. Eagles fans give McNabb 3 weeks to win Super Bowl (at least I have a sense of humor about my fellow Eagles fans).
OK, now it's your turn: what can you share that will make me laugh so hard I can't breathe?


29 March 2012

The Eternal Butts in Seats Debate

What do you notice - and reward - in your staff? Time at desk? Effort? Results?

As you'll soon discover, I'm pretty clearly in one camp.

Some places focus on hours. Were you there at 9 on the dot, did you take extra time at lunch, did you leave early?

And for some particular positions, that might make sense: retail (where you have posted store hours), customer service (where the phones/email accounts are supposed to be staffed certain hours), reception (where the desk is supposed to be staffed certain hours), shift work.

Raise your hand if you - or your staff - do one of those things.

Let's face it: if you're reading this blog, there's a good a chance you're what's known these days as a "knowledge worker," someone who is valued for the knowledge she brings to a particular field of expertise.

So since knowledge workers are valued for expertise, it makes sense to measure them by results, right?

This concept is captured well by ROWE - the Results Only Work Environment.

Unfortunately, too many of our organizations are mired in a 1950s-era mentality that we judge people based on whether or not they're putting in their hours. And making the leap to evaluating based on outcomes can be scary.

The thing is - as with many issues in the modern office - it's a management issue.

What would it take to stop evaluating people based on "was he in his seat from 9 to 5 every week day?"
  • Flexibility - obviously, this is not something that's going to work in a rigid culture.
  • Trust - you're not going to be able to watch your people every minute, since they're going to work when, and where, it makes the most sense for them.
  • Clarity - I think this is the real rub for most offices. We measure people based on butts in seats, or effort alone, because we have no clear, measurable, concrete goals for them. "Did you work at least 40 hours (and the right 40 hours) this week?" has to stand in, because we have no idea what we actually need our staff members to accomplish day to day, week to week, and year to year.
But if you can manage to make the switch - and make no mistake, it does require a major cultural shift, at least for most offices - it can accrue tremendous benefits to your organization. ROWE has been proven to reduce stress, increase productivity, increase health and well-being, and reduce turnover. And that makes complete sense when you think about it: your staff members get to dump their commute entirely (or commute at off hours, or only some of the time), work when they're at their most productive and in the environment that makes them most productive, and manage their personal lives in ways that make sense, which makes them happier, which in turn makes them more productive.

So what are you waiting for?

28 March 2012

What I'm Reading

  • Of course, seeing as I wasn't in Colorado this week, I've been reading the #ideas12 hashtag!
  • Warning signs your team could be in trouble.
  • Brian Solis updates his definition of social media.
  • Great point/counterpoint on Talent Anarchy about employment contracts.
  • Six habits of strategic thinkers.
  • Which type of innovator are you?  (confession: if history is any indication, I'm the Star Pupil, and yes, I would've annoyed the hoo-has out of you in grade school)


27 March 2012

You Say You Want a Revolution

There's a bit of a fracas currently occurring around the selection of James Carville and Karl Rove as opening keynoters for the 2012 ASAE Annual Meeting. To me, it raises a much larger question: how does a member change the direction of the organizational ship, if s/he's not happy with where it's going?

In every protest movement, from the largest (the Occupy movement, justice for Trayvon Martin) to the current ASAE contretemps, there's the initial, "I'm outraged! Who's with me?" moment.

And the "rabble rousing" portion is vital, because you have to figure out how big your cohort is.

But you have to move on to campaign stage, or you just get mired in complaining.

There are two key questions any protest group must answer:
  • What do we really want? (aka, What would fix the problem or compensate for the harm?)
  • What are we willing to give up to get it?
Then you have to calculate your "n" to figure out how many supporters you need before it's worth the institution's time to pay attention.

So using the Carville/Rove situation, let's look at some examples:

Small "n" resolution: Let's say the group of displeased members wants, in the future, for keynote speakers to be selected by a representative group of members, or at least for that group of members to provide a list of choices or to vet ASAE's list of choices. Since that would come at virtually no cost to ASAE, the group of members wouldn't have to risk/threaten much, and the "n" required to support the proposal in order to get the institution to pay attention would be relatively small.

Large "n" resolution:  Let's say the group of displeased members wants ASAE to provide an alternative keynoter or at least space and promotion if the disaffected group secures an alternative keynoter (maybe someone like Gwen Ifill?). That's a significant cost, in money, hassle/logistics, and damage to reputation, so the group would need a large "n" that's willing to threaten/risk something fairly major, like paying for the keynoter themselves, or canceling registrations and demanding a refund, in order to get the institution to pay attention.

But in the end, what each person has to ask her/himself is this: how much does this mean to me? Am I willing to die on this hill? And then put up, or shut up.

26 March 2012

Always the Last to Know: Paperless Post

Like the convenience of electronic invitations, but hate the way they look? Paperless Post may be your answer. It takes Evite to the next level, resulting in something far more attractive and professional looking.

23 March 2012

Friday Top 5

DC's famous cherry blossoms peaked this week. And did you know that it's the 100th anniversary of this lovely gift from Japan? Had to do an in honor of post, right? My Top 5 Favorite Things about the DC Cherry Blossoms:
  1. Their arrival means the arrival of my favorite season in DC: spring! It is, to quote Reggie, "stupid" gorgeous here in the spring.
  2. Their scent - people say they have no scent, but that's wrong. It's subtle and lovely and best caught just at twilight, when the temperature starts to drop.
  3. The beauty of petals falling to the ground like pale pink snow.
  4. The tourists. Yes, really. I might complain about their lack of Metro etiquette, but they bring in a tremendous amount of revenue, which given the presence of all these freeloading government and nonprofit entities (guilty!), the city desperately needs.
  5. The Kwanzan cherry trees, my favorite variety, tend to bloom later, like an extra gift after the others are mostly done.
Image credit: me!


22 March 2012

World Water Day

It's World Water Day, an annual event that focuses on the importance of protecting fresh water resources.

And I found a cool and short TED talk about a terrific new device called the Water Canary which will allow water to be tested for safety in the field in post-natural disaster areas:

Follow the link above for more information about this critical topic and what you can do to help protect clean drinking water.

21 March 2012

What I'm Reading

  • Leadership lessons from James T. Kirk.
  • Fundraising with a recalcitrant board? Great ideas for things they can do to support your efforts without having to make the ask themselves.
  • Recapture your lost community members.
  • Five things to say to your colleagues TODAY.
  • The loss of the 40 hour work week is killing us.
  • Building an integrated communications strategy.
  • On that topic, what is strategy anyway?
  • Great advice from the SocialFish for FB Timelines for organizations.
  • Why do top people leave organizations? BAD MANAGEMENT (really, really, really)
  • Shelly Alcorn points out that Maybe It's You.
  • Joe Gerstandt discusses the pathology of privilege.
  • My mother-in-law likes to get me subscriptions as gifts. I used to request fashion magazines, but after picking up a few newsstand issues to keep me company on recent flights, I asked her to switch to the New Yorker for this year. LOVE!
  • I'm also re-reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Dancing in the Streets. It's a fantastic study that gets at one of the possible sources of some of our modern malaise and what we might be able to do about it.

20 March 2012

Super Swap Recap

About two weeks ago, ASAE-GW held the latest Super Swap. This one had a slightly different format: in the morning, we had three short presentations, each of which included some structured activity/discussion time, followed by a table topic networking lunch, followed by the more traditional concurrent swap sessions.

Kylee Coffman kicked off the day with a presentation about creativity. Best statements:
"All I want to be is someone who makes new things and thinks about them"

"I'm smart, I'm brave and I'm strong."
Then she led us through the same word association exercise Shelly Alcorn used to help us kick off 2012 right, and, unsurprisingly, just about everyone was channeling spring and new beginnings.

Then I presented on "so long and thanks for all the fish." For the exercise, I divided the room into four groups and gave them each a task regarding retired and retiring members:
  1. Create a category of membership that offers realistic benefits at a realistic price
  2. Plan a fundraising campaign that uses their skills, experience and contacts to good advantage
  3. Design a mentoring program that focuses on industry/profession skills and knowledge for young professionals
  4. Design a leadership mentoring program for volunteer leadership succession planning
Finally, Adele Cehrs helped us all think about opposition strategy. Our associations need to scan trends and plan in advance how we're going to address big ones, negative or positive.

Her tips included: 
  • Don't ignore lies about your organization
  • Address misperceptions directly
  • Learn from negatives
  • Identify your own preconceptions
  • Understand your own weaknesses
She urged us to try to answer the question: "What are your competitors NOT talking about?"

The lunch discussions were a little bumpy because ASAE staff was trying to turn the rooms, and it took a long time for everyone to get through the lunch buffet line. Maybe box lunches next time?

In the afternoon, I chose the session on free and cheap tech tools, led by Rhea Steele. She, in turn, drew a lot of her content from Beth Z, aka "Your Nerdy Best Friend." Rhea pulled together a great list of the tech tools people shared in the session that were in addition to Beth's tools, and I'll bet if you tweet to her, she'll share them with you, too.


19 March 2012

Always the Last to Know: Twitter tools

Extensions that facilitate tweeting straight from your browser = awesomesauce.

(I'm back! Miss me?)

09 March 2012

Friday Top 5

I'll be taking another few days off for my association's spring conference next week, so I thought I'd leave you with some good reading material - Top 5 Best Books I've Read Recently:
  1. Humanize - check out my full review
  2. Cold Comfort Farm - written in 1932, it's a hilariously funny satirical take on "English country" novels of the overwrought DH Lawrence type
  3. Blindsight - recommended to me by the fab Lisa Junker, this book won a Hugo award and raises the fascinating metaphysical question: is it possible to be sentient without consciousness of a self?
  4. Batavia's Graveyard - a historical account of "history's bloodiest mutiny," this book also examines the socioeconomic and religious realities of the early 17th century that led the various players into their parts in this sad but enthralling story.
  5. A Visit from the Goon Squad - this multiple-award-winning novel uses the same cast of characters, jumping around in time, and variously filling starring and supporting roles in each others' lives, to examine how we get from A to B, often via Q, pink, dog, spoon, and a variety of other randomness, in our lives.
Happy reading!


08 March 2012

ISO Your MarComm Disasters

Have a MarComm mess on your hands? Want a little free consulting to fix it?

Layla Masri, Chris Durso and I are going to be presenting at ASAE's upcoming Membership, Marketing and Communications conference. Our session is going to focus on marketing and communications makeovers, so we need some makeover candidates.

Is your magazine frumpy? Is your blog out-of-date? Are your social-media efforts mismatched? Three fashion-forward association professionals, a web and content management provider, a marketing and membership expert, and a hardcore publications editor, will separate the mediocre from the marvelous. From a few simple nips and tucks to a wholesale makeover, learn what your style emergency needs are as the makeover team critiques your collateral from every angle and tailors you a whole new look.

Send your publications disasters, your web messes, and your membership campaign nightmares to info@beancreative.com, we'll review them, make FREE suggestions for improvement, and feature them in our session, Thursday, May 23.


07 March 2012

What I'm Reading

  • Face time is irrelevant - what matters is productivity (you'd think we'd have this by now).
  • Are people at your meeting to learn or to connect? How might the answer to that question change your program design?
  • Tips to tame the email beast (I do a lot of these myself, and they work!),
  • You do remember that Jeffrey Cufaude is doing a weekly series on facilitation, right? Turns out, I'm not the only one enjoying it.
  • Speaking of Jeffrey, he also has a great article on diversity and inclusion in February issue of Associations Now.
  • A five year career plan is a waste of time.
  • Want to be a great boss?
  • More good advice for bosses: what your staff needs most from you.
  • Through the Maze: Careers in Association Management is out. It's a great monograph out of the ASAE Young Association Executives Committee. (I was very fortunate to be able to provide some assistance to the smart YP authors.)
  • There's a great point/counterpoint article from two members of the ASAE Membership Section Council (KiKi L'Italien and Celena NuQuay) on the future of the membership model (you will have to log in).
  • I finished Swamplandia! and, although a few of the plot turns were pretty predictable, I did really enjoy it. I also finally read Cold Comfort Farm, which was, as promised, hilarious.

06 March 2012

Get Your Ideas Here!

What are you doing tomorrow? The answer better be "coming to the Super Swap at ASAE!"

What are Super Swaps? They're an opportunity to learn from other association professionals and share your knowledge. The program mixes professional development, networking with peers, and great conversation in the association community.

This month's Super Swap is going to be a little different format. ASAE-GW is calling it: Super Swap Conversations. What that means is that some association professionals (like yours truly) will be giving SHORT presentations to kick off conversations around the following topics:
  • Mastering the Creative Process: Channel the Crazy & Start Building with Kylee Coffman, Retail Industry Leaders Association 
  • What’s Your Association’s “O” Strategy? with Adele Cehrs, Epic PR Group 
  • So long, and thanks for all the fish (that's with me!) 
  • Free & Cheap Tech Tools – What Will You Be Using in 2012? with Rhea Steele, Council of Chief State School Officers 
  • Making it Rain: How to Drive Non-Dues Revenue with Michele Klecha, Club Managers Association of America and Scott Oser, Scott Oser Associates 
  • Evolving Membership Models, with Barbara Armentrout, Marketing General Inc.
Find out more and register at the ASAE website.


05 March 2012

Always the Last to Know: Archive Team

What happens to the content of websites that die? What if those sites contained people's personal photos or journaling or poetry? Archive Team to the rescue.

To quote from their website:
Formed in 2009, the Archive Team (not to be confused with the archive.org Archive-It Team) is a rogue archivist collective dedicated to saving copies of rapidly dying or deleted websites for the sake of history and digital heritage. Consisting of volunteers and interested parties, Archive Team has been involved in just-in-time backing up of major and minor sites on the brink or process of being shut down.
To find out more about what they do - and why it's so important - check out this recent piece in MIT's Technology Review.