The “I” Disease Threatens to Ruin Social Networks

1 08 2008

Social media and online communities have great potential for fostering the growth and development of fresh thinking, exciting new products or services, or just to challenge the status quo.   But it is sad that more and more we wade through a thick soup of “I this” or “Me that” in how we communicate or collaborate.

This threatens the very heart of the credibility of Web 2.0 and other new approaches to management thinking among the wider audience who creates and consumes digital content.  The sharpest critics of open innovation of all kinds…the ones who still think email is a productivity tool…that listservs are our best way to collaborate… can happily point to this “me”ans of communication as further proof that the crowd is wrong, that the rank and file should never be allowed to collaborate or have a say in how products or services are developed with volunteer leaders and staff.

Good leaders lead by staying focused on the mission and being passionate without fear of losing the  attribution or critical acclaim.   They are the ones more respected by others because they can see their motives aren’t about self-promotion.

Let’s help ourselves.  Present ideas and opinions with force and passion but with a little less “me.”


Seek to Grow Your Business Globally?

5 03 2008

Like many association executives…

You see evidence of a growing presence of non-US customer product consumption, attendance at your meetings, or authors of content that you have come to rely upon to supply the IP for new products and services.

Your members, customers, partners and leadership from different regions say your association must be more “present and engaged here” if you want to be more successful.

Meanwhile, your environmental scanning indicates that demographics and business trends show:

  • A dramatic shift (see graph and video below) in the movement of non-USA young professionals who no longer come to the USA to study or find employment and now choose to become part of the amazing changes underway in their own countries like – China, Turkey, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Algeria, Russia, India and South Africa.
  • Post 9/11 US immigration policy continues to limit the rest of the world’s best and brightest from coming the the USA.
  • To succeed in globalization one must build business relationships in these regions to demonstrate local presence and a willingness to contribute “locally” rather than simply selling what you have from thousands of miles away (See the “The Second World Empires & Influence in the New Global Order” a new book by Parag Khanna).
  • Global outsourcing continues to spread to white collar professionals from call centers to the more professional positions like engineering thanks to Business Process Outsourcing strategies.
  • 24/7 project management requires inter operable standards & practices from body of knowledge to practices so “one work” is done no matter where or by whom.
  • An Asian skills “gap” in the ability to apply knowledge in the business world despite coming from the best schools forces millions who graduate into intensive 14 week corporate training programs costing businesses millions with a high wash out rate.
  • Customer service expectation now has “gone global” as global consumers expect the same quality experience whether in New York, London, Dubai, Mumbai or Singapore.
  • The Bottom billion (the world’s poor) are now being targeted with innovative business, product design, pricing, and distribution models to turn them into viable paying consumers ….just not at the prices the rest of us pay.

The question is how do you go about building a sustainable business?

What would it look like?

How do we get our Board to support it?

So I am starting a new blog called Grow to help answer these questions.

After 16 years of success with US associations, I have learned that building and sustaining growth in today’s international markets requires a global strategy with regional planning and a local infrastructure for execution.

For some it might be leading with products and services while for others it’s all about membership. But regardless of your approach, if you can’t build community you won’t succeed in attracting and sustaining interest among customers, members, partners, funders, or endorsers in any market.

MCI covers 23 cities and 14 countries with a team of 600+ people who traverse a product practice in international association management, PCO, meetings, and Ovation DMC across Europe to Arabia to Asia and Latin America. We’ll share what we have learned and encourage you to contribute your own thoughts and ideas as we explore the world of international association management with you.

The agenda covers what MCI considers to be the core drivers of establishing and sustaining a global business and are featured in “sections” on the horizontal navigation above that are visible on any area of this site.

In the coming months you can look forward to reading actual, practical approaches and solutions to real world challenges that you can use to plan your own projects. Here are some examples:

  • Market & Business Plan – sound market analysis with a business plan should become the foundation for a global growth strategy
  • Product Management – sell them what they want not what you have… by adapting product to local need
  • Membership – community is cultivated by enfranchising local/regional members to help build member value that is meaningful to those in the region
  • Member Services – regional and local infrastructure is critical to provide the right competencies and local thinking to execute repeatedly while mitigating risk
  • Advocacy – whether it’s regulatory issues, philanthropic outreach, or social responsibility see how others are promoting issues and building support
  • Channels – part of your sustainable business model must include Partners, Sponsors, Funders, and Sales Feeders
  • MarCom – it isn’t just translating your material but knowing that to communicate and position yourself to maximize opportunities you need to adapt yourself to local markets
  • Meetings – from large Congresses to small meeting… find out how to develop strategy, promotion campaigns, and secure the destination resources you need to provide quality meeting experiences anywhere

You will also find third party research and links to other web resources to help you build better international products and services.

I look forward to exchanging views and sharing research, experience and expertise for this exciting new frontier of global opportunity.

TED Conference Injects Crowdsourcing

27 02 2008

If you are a devotee of TED’s videos you know that this event has has some amazing presentations. I have been jealously watching them for years since the event was started by Richard Saul Wurman. But I always wondered whether people walk away from such an inspiring event and feel a little frustrated as the enthusiasm runs through their fingers like so much sand without marshaling that emotion into real projects.

This year TED looks like they are fixing that problem by bolting on a crowdsourcing attendee experience using a new software product called Kluster.

Watch this video to see how they plan to do it. (Click on image)

Over the 72 hours of TED, they plan to use the power of the audience and the rapid-prototyping system and software to develop a tangible product. And we can all join the party. You can sign up here.

Good luck guys.

Institutional Investors Make “Sustainable Business” An Investment Priority

12 02 2008

This one is for anyone attending the upcoming ASAE and the Center Social Responsibility Summit.

The 2008 Investor Summit on Climate Risk will bring together more than 400 institutional investors, Wall Street leaders and CEOs from around the world to consider the scale and urgency of climate change risks, as well as the economic opportunities of a global transition to a clean energy future.

According to the Wall Street Journal,”Investors are increasingly trying to come to grips with the uncertainty about how the U.S. government will address the issue of global warming, and what effects that will have on businesses from power companies to insurers…

But just like the “tipping points” that many scientists point to in the Earth’s changing climate, investor interest in how to play global warming seems to be gathering steam. Investors are taking a more proactive role. Last week, three big banks said they’ll toughen financing standards for coal-fired power plants that could come under fire from new environmental regulations.Increasingly, the accent is on business opportunities presented by the world’s efforts to rein in global warming. Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG have set out to identify which companies help the world adapt to changing climate, such as water-treatment companies, as well as businesses that can help mitigate further climate change, like clean-energy firms.”

Why should I care? Follow the money.

Investors are finding that the future of business (and future investment) will be in companies and industries who are innovating business models, product or service designs or delivery systems to be more sustainable economically, environmentally and socially.

It isnt simply about recycling or making modifications to systems proving they cant fundamentally change.

Social responsibility is passe.

Sustainable business models and product/service designs are what investors see as the future.

It is about innovation.

Business got us into this. Business will get us out.

Follow the money.

Control? Due Diligence? Distrust? Lack of Imagination?

9 02 2008

For decades we operated closed systems controlling who designed, delivered and received the credit from standards to best practices to industry guidelines. To some members and observers it was seen as a kind of feudal system.You can almost envision a castle surrounded by a moat with kings and queens, dukes and duchess, knights and serfs. A cultural of entitlement reigned as IP protection systems safeguarded all who served the system inside the walls.

Kind of like this…

Today many IMO’s are tracking the slow trend of negative growth in membership as older players retire or change careers while student members “vote” with their feet as upon graduation they never take their expected place as young professional members around the roundtable.


Could it be they see a closed system that does not relate to their own views about career, profession and group interaction? Do they perceive a sense of distrust among the “chosen” or “entitled” class? Is the system stacked against those who prefer to pursue ideas and outcomes rather than to follow older “pay your dues” methods that keep power with those with tenure? Or is it a lack of imagination? A lack of recognition in how new generations want to interact, collaborate, and achieve?

Forrester Research conducted a fascinating study on how different generations use the Internet. It may hold part of the answer to these questions. And whoever is in charge of “due diligence” better study up.

Running from left to right in columns are the generations from the NetGeneration/Millenials (the largest – those under 22 years), Gen Y, Gen X, two groups of Boomers, and Seniors. The rows represent different types of ways people prefer to use the Internet. From top to bottom they represent preferences of engagement from the most (the lean forwards) to the least (the lean backs). Turns out just like different styles of learning, people have different preferences for online activity.

What is critical to appreciate is how from old to new you can see the tremendous change in how people prefer to create, consume and collaborate. As you might expect, the older you are the least likely you are to be active online. I saw this first hand in many board rooms and among established experts in the ICT industry who amazingly were totally ignorant of how the world is changing despite their expertise and credentials.

This slide is super critical to appreciate. If you are segmenting your customers be sure to include generational segmentation as you examine product design and delivery or governance models. You ignore the coming shift at your own peril.

Here is an interesting example of what I mean.This Millenial plays video games. He hates Sony’s new product so much that he created his own “video of complaint” and posted to YouTube…1.8 million views later I found it last summer. Today that number is over 3 million.

This couldn’t have been done ten years ago by one person with an idea and a PC. And would have cost $100,000.This video is an illustration of the expertise, passion, knowledge and creativity that “lives beyond the walls” of your closed system.

Do your due diligence…. Examine new models…. Embrace more open systems …. Or become marginalized slowly like the air running out of a balloon.

Making Business Sense of Climate Change – A Practical Guide

3 02 2008

Vanessa Cotton and I reprise for a session on this Tuesday at MPI’s PEC NA here in Houston on the topic of making a business case for developing a “sustainable business strategy” for meetings and events from a planner and supplier perspective.

We’ll be presenting a case study featuring one of MCI’s clients and how MCI led them through via our sustainable consulting services along with the use of a green meeting calculator that feeds to a database for benchmarking your footprint against other events. This effort led to the client choosing ExCel London for an upcoming congress because of its advances in sustainable business services for meetings. They actually have a worm farm that converts waste to compost as a new revenue streams. Yum!!!

Slides are here.

From Mega Trends to Association Trends to Meeting Trends

3 02 2008

MPI PEC North America in Houston is a good place for me to return to the blog with a presentation on how key MegaTrends affect associations and their events. I presented along with my UK colleague Vanessa Cotton of ExCel in London.

Here is the session overview:


  • Global Economy
  • Demographic Shifts
  • Science and Technology Advancements
  • Sustainability
  • Open vs Closed System

Association Trends

  • Global Strategy
  • Standard Product Development
  • Business Metrics & Measures
  • Customer Attention Deficit
  • ISO Credible Sources
  • Customer Experience Management
  • Regionalization (Planning/Infrastructure)
  • Hot Regions

Association Meeting Trends

  • Alliance and partnership development – ongoing conf business (co-branding, outreach, BD, sponsor channels)
  • Product development process – event business strategy, end user integration
  • Customer “value add” experience design – mapping before, during and after experiences
  • Digitizing and monetizing conference content – taking face 2 face content and distributing it more widely

This version does not contain builds and embedded video.