Blogger Buzz on Associations, Conversations and Managing People

1 09 2007

Catching up on my reading this weekend and came across some sources worth a look if you are concerned about your presence or lack of it in the ongoing conversation about your association.

David Gammel at High Context Consulting has developed a useful “conversation participation” measure for organizations to assess themselves. Given the advent of the previous McKinsey Study postings this week, don’t be left out of the conversation with your public.

Dennis McDonald asks the question, “should social networking tools be explicitly included in emergency response planning by schools?” Absolutely! Dennis makes the following points:

  • “Young people use these systems day in and day out. They blog, they use social networks, they constantly are text-messaging, and they know how to exchange information and share files. Such systems are second nature to them.”
  • “To fail to take the existence and potential value of such systems into account in planning for what to do in case their lives are threatened would be irresponsible. But we do need more thinking, research, and experimentation before we know what makes the most sense.”

Jeff Cobb at Mission to Learn has some great observations about blogging, learning, and staying connected. Jeff believes, “Blogging is a powerful tool-and a powerful process through which individuals may pursue their own learning” and “Organizations that are not open to (market conversations), not only as a part of their professional development effort, but as an integral part of their strategy may find themselves stuck at the station as the Cluetrain (Manifesto) departs.”  In my own case, the whole purpose of my blog was to use it to organize and articulate what I learn and think about open innovation.  Definitely recommend it.

Lindy Dreyer at Association Marketing Springboard shares some great tips on mobilizing word of mouth marketing. Here is one…“Reach out to your organization’s top evangelists and participants. You already know them. They’re your board members, section leaders, council participants and advisors. Get a small group together face-to-face or on a conference call to brainstorm around these questions:

  1. Why do you participate?
  2. What kinds of members/organizations/professionals would you like to attract to the group and why?
  3. What other organizations do you participate in?
  4. What publications do you read?
  5. What websites do you visit for professional content or social networking?

Jeff De Cagna at Principled Innovation helps us stay focused on one of the most fundamental problems of current association management… its use of a closed system of participation and teh need to become more open. He writes, “Legacy approaches to association governance tend to focus the attention of a small number of elite contributors, e.g., boards, CEOs, senior staff, on the work of optimizing technical governance processes and practices that do not create distinctive value for members and customers in their own right, and often obstruct value creation elsewhere in the organization.” As ASAE and the Center’s D2J study so plainly shows, why in the world would you continue with a system that retards your ability to increase collaboration and conversation with your audience?

Maddie Grant at Diary of a Reluctant Blogger finished the entire ASAE and the Center Decision to Join Study (wow!). Here is a great observation that supports Jeff’s ungovernance idea and previous posts here at os.a… “There appears to be a large difference between the perceptions of those at the top than the rank-and-file. This disproves the idea that the governance level people can represent the rest of the membership and act for them – maybe they don’t even know what the membership is really thinking. This definitely resonates with me, because there is definitely a perception that the group at the top of my association is a closed club (intensified by the hierarchical nature of any medical field), and we’re very actively and publicly trying to figure out how to break down those perceived barriers.”

Chris Bailey at Workplay offers a great illustration of why managing intangible assets is an overlooked management science. He shares his pain in his post “middle management is approaching a new day.” Here is an excerpt: “Once upon a time, I was a middle manager. It was something I aspired to. I saw it as a way to advance as a professional and grow as a leader. I also believed it was a way to help others connect the work they did to meaning and purpose. Then, somewhere along the way, I got lost. I got tired of mediating petty squabbles. I became frustrated by the idiotic political turf wars. I grew weary of being squeezed from top-side executives and board and bottom-side staff – not to mention from the members and customers at the sides. My passion was extinguished and I was happy to find new work here in Texas where I didn’t have to worry about managing anyone.” More people need to be reading Rosbeth Kanter’s book on organizational confidence.

Enjoy the weekend.




4 responses

2 09 2007
Jeff Cobb

Peter–Thanks for the mention of Mission to Learn, and more importantly, for the other “blogger buzz” listings. I was familiar with some of these folks, not with others–they are all doing some great thinking. I’m always surprised and gratified at how relatively simple questions like Dennis McDonald’s ““should social networking tools be explicitly included in emergency response planning by schools?” can drive a learning process when (if) explored fully. A colleague of mine runs a small company that offers an SMS product that hooks into the ubiquitous Blackboard platform. He had been struggling to convince schools of the value of his offering until, sadly, the day after the Virginia Tech tragedy when his phone started ringing off the hook. Any school actually engaged with its stakeholder base in the way that DeCagna, Dreyer, and Grant (and yourself, of course) suggest, would have seen the value of a tool like SMS (and other social media tools) quite a while ago. Unfortunately, much of what passes for “innovation” in these large, lethargic institutions is purely reactionary.

2 09 2007
Peter Turner


Your welcome. I enjoy reading Mission to Learn.

I would urge you to share your thoughts with Dennis too at his blog especially if you have contacts in the academic space.


4 09 2007
Maddie Grant

Thank you for quoting my blog! And apologies for the dubious repetition of the word “definitely” – must fire my proofreader – hahaha. Am absolutely interested in the concept of ungovernance and will write more about it later when I’ve got my head round it a bit more.

5 09 2007

Thanks for the link and for contextualizing these ideas. And I LOVE the cartoon.

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