An Executive Director's point of view


September 28, 2015: Action, not position papers

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
If your organization seeks to influence a decision - public or private - it needs to determine how that decision will be made and how it can be influenced.

Announcing a policy position or publishing a journal, magazine, or newsletter article may be part of a larger advocacy strategy. But those activities, alone, are not enough.

To succeed, you must TAKE ACTION. Simply voicing your opinion is insufficient. You need to engage in activities that are likely to persuade decision-makers to adopt your position. And you need like-minded individuals and groups - including those outside of your industry or profession - to do the same.

Making speeches and issuing declarations is just not enough.

September 08, 2015: Most and least liked industries

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
A recent Gallup poll asked respondents their opinions of specific American industries. These public perceptions often influence groups' lobbying, public relations, and fund-raising efforts and should be treated with importance.

I was surprised by the low ranking of the health care industry (I'm guessing people rated medical companies, not physicians or nurses) and the somewhat higher ranking of the automobile industry.

July 22, 2015: Like it used to be

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
When you hear long-time members or former leaders pining about "the old days," don't dismiss their memories as worn out war stories.

Listen to what they say, because they may be sharing valuable insights and information that you can use.
Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt

July 07, 2015: Revenge of the volunteers

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
There's a lot of chatter about how volunteer moderators shut down their groups on Reddit to register their unhappiness with the company's firing of an employee.

The company had no obligation to explain why that person had been fired. And the volunteers had no right to know.

But if a company - or an association - relies on volunteers to deliver a major portion of its services, it should incorporate their feelings into whatever course of action it pursues. (But it should not bend to their will).

Lessons for associations:

1. Anticipate an unpleasant reaction to a controversial decision, and be prepared for it.

2. Don't create a situation where anybody - volunteers or employees - can, or will, shut down an organization because they disagree with a decision that has been made.

June 17, 2015: Certification problem

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
An association found that more than one-fourth of its certified members had not renewed their credential nor sought the higher credentialing levels that were available. And that number was increasing each year.

The profession was not licensed, so it was felt that certification was necessary to identify practitioners who were truly qualified. Thus, additional requirements were added every few years to keep pace with developments in the field. And the changes applied to everybody.

Many certified members, though, felt the additional requirements were being promoted by those who had earned the higher credentials and merely wanted to gain a professional advantage over their less-credentialed colleagues.

Question: At what point will the credential no longer be valued?

If the majority of members reject the credentialing process, will non-credentialed members outnumber those who are credentialed? Will the association then phase out the credential or scale back the requirements? Will the non-renewed members create a competing association that will claim the credential is not necessary?

Don't ignore the problem if this happens in your organization. If you think the credential holds value, determine why people are forgoing the process and find a responsible way to accommodate their concerns. Otherwise, you might be left with a worthless credentialing process.

May 04, 2015: Rating customer service

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
When online surveys ask if you are satisfied with the results of customer service requests, they are not asking your opinion of the company, the product, the customer service process, or even the information you were given.

They are evaluating the performance of the person or company that was hired to provide your answer.

So, don't say "no," even if the answer did not help you. Doing so will be treated as a criticism of the customer service personnel, who will be punished for not having provided the proper reply, even if they did a good job serving you.

If you dislike the company, its product, or the customer service process, find a different venue to voice your complaint.

April 19, 2015: Attending a luncheon alone

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
This is how to attend a luncheon, or other plated event, when you are alone and you are not an outgoing person.

Your goal should be to sit in a place that enables you to talk with people in a socially non-threatening manner.

1. Stand at the entrance and patiently scan the room. Nobody will be staring at you. The only people looking at you will be others who are alone and who hope they know you, so they can call you over to their table.

2. Look for a table that is partially occupied by other people who appear to be alone. They are probably in the midst of trying to connect with each other, so you are more likely to fit in and feel welcome.

3. Try not to sit at a table that is occupied by a group of people who seem to already know each other. They won't talk to you and you'll feel like an outcast.

4. Do not sit at an empty table, either. It will just emphasize your being alone. You need a place where a social structure has already begun forming, so you can be a part of it.

5. When you've selected a table, sit right next to somebody who is already seated, even if that person is talking to someone else. Do not leave any chairs between the two of you. Introduce yourself and sit down. If that person is an association professional, she'll broaden her conversation to include you. When somebody sits next to you, include them in your conversation, too.

6. If possible, sit facing the front of the room, so you won't have to turn around to view the emcee, speakers, or video screen. That will also enable you to see everybody at the table and better manage your interactions with them.

7. Do not put your belongings on the chair next to you. That gives the impression you don't want anybody to sit with you or talk to you. Stuff your briefcase and laptop under your chair. Keep your purse in your lap.

8. Do not read a book, newspaper, tablet, or anything else. And don't talk on your phone or check your email. That signals that you don't want company. If you feel like you must do something, read the program handout, if there is one.

9. Exchange business cards with the people you meet. Even if you have no use for the contact information and never expect to use it, the swap is a bond that will connect you during the luncheon.

10. When the event ends, say good bye to each of the people you've spoken with. If you want to continue a conversation with any of them, send an email later that day (or if you are at a dinner, send it the next day).

March 31, 2015: Fighting bigotry

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Association professionals join societies to discuss management and organizational issues. They usually don't join to discuss politics.

But sometimes, things occur in our world that are just wrong.

And those things usually affect our members, our customers, and our organizations.

So, it is natural to express our outrage and to seek solutions that enable us to continue practicing our profession in a manner that we feel is fair to everyone.

Associations rely upon fundamental rights to conduct their business and any violation of those rights represents an attack on our profession.

So, don't remain silent when these issues arise.

Speak up. And speak wisely.

February 27, 2015: Understand your members

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
You don't have to be an expert in your members' business.

But you do have to understand what your members want, why they want it, and how they can be successful at it.

So be an expert in your business - management, marketing, meeting planning, editing, etc. - and use your expertise to help your members succeed in their business.
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