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Getting strategic planning right is challenging in the best of times. This season of disruption adds additional complexity and brings significant shifts in perspective that are important to recognize as associations prepare for the years ahead.    I’ve been advising .orgSource clients to integrate strategy across organizational activities since long before the pandemic. If I ever doubted that approach—last year would have convinced me that technology, resources, and culture are equally important in the planning process. And, when the board are visionaries and staff executes, there is flexibility and the opportunity to make adjustments over time.   An ...
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These comments from McDonald’s CEO, Chris Kempczinski to New York Times journalist David Gelles describing how the pandemic would change the company’s business resonated with me on a couple of levels.  “We had to pivot to basically being an entirely drive-through, delivery, and curbside pickup business, and I think that’s going to still be an enduring part of this. The app is going to now be the  center of that relationship  with the customer. So in the past, it would be about having birthday parties in the restaurant. Well, if the app is now the center of the experience, how do you deliver fun and excitement and interest through an app? “We build about ...
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What should we call it—the  New Normal, the Next Normal, Another Normal? Please let go of normal. When the DJ stopped playing oldies, Normal left the party. Since well before the pandemic, I’ve been urging my colleagues and clients to consider that stability in the digital marketplace is a dangerous illusion.   Guiding our association clients toward successful solutions means that the .orgSource team operates with one foot in the future and the other grounded in the reality of our community. To learn where associations stand on an evolving business continuum, we regularly survey our constituents.   This year we book-ended the pandemic, rolling out one ...
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When do you stop having a choice? In May 2019, when the panel discussion below was first published in the .orgSource newsletter, digital transformation probably wasn’t top of mind for most association leaders. Since 2020 taught us that only the digital survive, new strategies and approaches for IT are on every agenda. The question is no longer whether you will become a digital organization, it’s when.   If the last year felt as though you were patching your IT initiatives together with duct tape, this conversation points the way toward integrated solutions that put a digital mindset at the center of your organization’s culture and operations.        As ...
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Anyone who has spent time here in Chicago knows that the weather can change from sunshine to flurries in the time it takes to stroll a block down the Mag Mile.   This fickle about-face seems to be happening everywhere. We spent the last year urging people to stay home. Now the focus has abruptly changed to getting them back on the job.   Signing bonuses and other tempting perks abound. Politico reports that McDonald’s will raise wages by 10 percent for 36,500 workers. And Amazon plans to increase hourly pay by $3 for its US employees.   Yes, the immediate worker shortage is a pandemic fallout. But a larger storm is gathering. The Boomer generation, ...
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We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now. Martin Luther King, Jr.   The proof that we are citizens of the world, no matter how fiercely we choose to localize, was one of the pandemic’s profound lessons. Technology has created an interdependent global economy. What happens in a province of China that is 7,150 miles away, disrupts life around the planet.   In response, marketers are beginning to attempt to mirror their universe of customers. Today, ads target a spectrum of racial, ethnic, gender, and physical diversity that was invisible as recently as five years ago. But organizations and institutions have a lot of catching ...
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In the movie Groundhog Day, actor Bill Murray is condemned to live the same day of his life over, and over, and over again.   Groundhog Day thinking is the seductive loop that lurks in offices and conference rooms tempting us to reject fresh ideas for recycled solutions. How do you resist the pull of the familiar and let creativity flow?   Is the answer in who you hire or how you work? My opinion is it’s a combination of both. Some people are probably wired to be more curious and independent thinkers than others. The popular left brain/right brain theory speculates that the lefties are more analytical and methodical, and the right-brainers are the ...
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What magic will--   Define your association as the go-to source for education and career development?   Engage members to click, like, share, download, purchase, and participate?   Generate revenue, increase recognition, and build reputation?   It’s a tall order, but no wands or capes are involved. A publishing strategy that unifies mission and messaging to deliver the information your members need accomplishes all that and more. The challenge lies in navigating an industry that is an epicenter of disruption and regularly reinvents itself.   If you follow my blog, you know that the .orgSource team is laser-focused on positioning ...
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When marketing got hitched to technology and changed its name to MarTech , their relationship caught fire. That marriage is making an indelible impact on the way associations operate and their ability to engage with members.   The MarTech stack, or the digital platforms that professionals use to understand and reach their audiences, is changing so fast that new features become yawn-inducing overnight. Associations may not be burning up the internet at the same break-neck speed as commercial sellers but understanding the trends in this rapidly changing environment is critical. Your competitors are using sophisticated strategies to get closer to their customers, ...
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The smiles are back! Yesterday the CDC announced that anyone who is fully vaccinated need not wear a mask in most circumstances.   But wait. The comments on my Facebook page tell an interesting story. Everyone isn’t jumping on Open Table or heading to the movies. Some of us are quite happy, thank you very much, to continue wearing a face covering and staying socially distant.   Hybrid might be the next normal, at least for 2021. Associations will be striking the balance between those members who have been counting the minutes until they can attend an in-person event and the others who discovered that Zoom was their new best friend.   This intersection ...
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by Jim Lindell, CSP. Jim is the President of Thorsten Consulting Group, Inc, a Wisconsin based provider of strategic and financial consulting, professional speaking, training and executive coaching. Jim will be presenting the keynote at the WSAE 2021 Spring Fore-ward. This article is re-printed from the Spring issue of VantagePoint magazine . Some of you may recall the Saturday Night Live skit about The Olympia Restaurant with actors John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd and Bill Murray. Regardless of what the customer ordered, John Belushi would respond with “cheeseburger, Pepsi and chips.” When the customer pushed back, Belushi would repeat “cheeseburger, Pepsi and ...
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by Karl Ahlrichs, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, CSP. Karl advises associations on their people issues. His experience is ideally suited to times of organizational change as he pulls on risk management and organizational development theories to replace best practices with next practices. Karl will be presenting at the WSAE 2021 Spring Fore-ward. This article is re-printed from the Spring issue of VantagePoint magazine . Practice makes perfect. Having everything in place to do the right thing at the right time – that’s what works . It works in relationships. It works in scanning the pantry making dinner plans. It works in solving tough decisions in a post-quarantine association. ...
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Remember the good old days? Once every three years, you gathered the board and staff in a conference room with baked goods, a lot of caffeine, and a facilitator. They produced what was euphemistically called a strategic plan. Often this document had more in common with a laundry list than strategy. I hope that total immersion with sweet rolls and Starbucks is long over for your organization. A one-and-done approach to planning is no match for the digital marketplace. Try it today and the plan you produced will be an antique before it sees action. Technology is moving too quickly. When clients engage with .orgSource for projects,  I encourage them to adopt ...
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A colleague recently confided in me that although her association is facing serious challenges, the board isn’t interested in learning how to govern more effectively. Her attempts to educate them are always met with resistance.   You can guess where this group is headed. If they manage to survive over the next few years, it will be a painful struggle. The situation is unfortunate because this association represents an industry that has the potential for exponential growth. This is an extreme example of why innovation is a critical organizational value.   Innovative organizations are not just the digital superstars. Being first to jump on every bandwagon ...
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Siloed organizations used to be hard to manage; today, they are a real business liability. Success in the digital marketplace depends on a holistic approach —this is a mantra that I can’t repeat frequently enough. Systems, teams, and departments must all be directed toward common goals.   If imposing this level of discipline seems daunting, a content strategy is an effective tool to get your cats running in the same direction. As technology advances, those felines become harder to herd. Content has outstripped the written word. For better or worse, electronic media makes everyone a producer. Video, audio, and written information are simple to create and ...
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My fascination with technology began when I realized it would help me become better at something I love—dealing with challenging problems. Originally, .orgSource was focused on software and hardware solutions. Today, although our scope has expanded to include integrating strategy, systems, and communications, problem-solving remains the core of our business.   The puzzle we will never complete is the most interesting. We are constantly seeking to understand how associations should position for success in an uncertain future. Four years ago, my business partner, Kevin Ordonez, and I began researching how Industry 4.0 , would impact associations. We believed ...
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You wouldn’t go to the bank for a loan without a fine-tuned business plan or approach a fundraising prospect for a major gift before learning everything you could about their interests. With so much riding on sponsorship revenue, it’s surprising that our industry partners don’t always get the kind of special treatment this important relationship deserves. Rolling out the red-carpet to make a sponsorship request isn’t as second nature as it should be.   The need to deliver value in a virtual setting forced most groups to think creatively about how to offer meaningful interaction in the low-touch environment. But our perspective still needs to make another ...
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The conference ROI slowly rose like a gator lifting its head from the swamp of negative numbers. But membership dues, product sales, and web analytics are sinking deeper into quicksand. Even facing a dismal scenario like this, the decision to call for outside expertise can be difficult. I understand why leaders hesitate to hire a consultant. The search can be lengthy and time-consuming. There may be significant expense involved. The board expects you, as the CEO, to solve the problem, and you find yourself wondering why you and your team are not making progress. There are no definitive rules about when to give up fighting the good fight. However, there are ...
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I found a relic of my former life when I was organizing my files. It was a presentation I created back in January 2020. The title was Association 4.0—Creating Community in a Less Social World . I planned to use the deck to launch a new series of in-person Think Tanks. The topic was going to expand on an earlier discussion about how Industry 4.0, or the digital revolution, would impact associations.   You know what happened next. Shortly, after I scheduled the meeting, I had to cancel. Everyone had more pressing issues to worry about. In hindsight, I’m amazed at how accurately the title reflects the challenge we were, and are, facing. Today, both everything ...
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Podcasts are the perfect learning tool for multitaskers. You can walk the dog, workout, or pick up a Starbucks and be educated and entertained at the same time. That’s why .orgSource, .orgCommunity’s partner consultancy, is excited to launch the   Association 4.0 series . If you’re already a podcast fan, you just scored some great new episodes. If you’re new to the medium, our programs might get you hooked.   This group of recordings from our consultants and colleagues was created to:   Present innovative perspectives on issues that keep leaders up at night. Provide advice from experts in our industry about topics ranging from governing your organization ...
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