Eric Lanke

Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry M. Robert

Eric Lanke

This short work is commonly known as “the classic manual of parliamentary procedure.” And if my experience is in any way typical, it is casually referenced far more frequently than its principles and procedures are rigorously applied.

Course 141

My Top Five Blog Posts of 2019

Eric Lanke

I've been posting these Top Five lists at the end of every year for the last seven years. Over those seven years, a handful of posts have come to dominate them.

Course 130

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I Want the Right Pageviews

Eric Lanke

This week's blog post is partly inspired by this post on Seth Godin's blog. In it, he makes the case that the idea of "reach" is overrated. Why do you care if you can, for more money, reach more people? Why wouldn’t it make more sense to reach the right people instead? I agree entirely. Here's a specific case in point. My association has a website. There's a lot of good content up there, most of it intended for our members.

Annual Conference Mode

Eric Lanke

On the day this posts, my association's Board meeting and Annual Conference will be two short weeks away. This has traditionally been my time to enter what I call my "Annual Conference Mode." What does that mean? Well, the simple rule I try to start following is that if it isn't related to pulling off a successful Board meeting and Annual Conference, then it's going to wait until after the conference is over. Like most simple rules, this one is always easier to state than it is to follow.

Does Your Company Need Help Solving These 4 Common eLearning Challenges?

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The Idea Swap

Eric Lanke

I attended an educational conference last week and a wonderful thing happened to me there. I got a new idea. I don't know yet if it's a good idea or a bad idea. Maybe you can tell me. But that's not the point. The fact that something new and novel occurred to me while attending this conference practically made it worth the price of admission. Here it is. At a lot of educational conferences there is time set aside for group-based discussions on ideas or problems that the attendees self-identify.

When Decisions Get Made

Eric Lanke

Amanda Kaiser at her Smooth the Path blog gave me a good reminder this week about association membership dues notices. The most interesting result from the member research on renewal notices is that these letters, emails, and phone calls do not serve to change most member’s minds about renewing. Instead, renewal notices merely remind them to renew. The decision to renew is made far ahead of the renewal period.

The Tightrope

Eric Lanke

Sometimes I feel exactly like the tightrope walker in the picture accompanying this post -- out on a thin and dangerous wire, leaving one position of safety with the hope of reaching another, alone, and with only the balance pole of my wits and my association's mission to stabilize me. The first position of safety? That's my current organization, where, although there are some strong winds buffeting us, things are working well and people are satisfied. The second position of safety?

Participation Tracking Is Not for the Faint of Heart

Eric Lanke

We track our members. We don't use face recognition software, metadata, or complicated algorithms. We use an even more diabolical mechanism. Microsoft Excel. What am I talking about? I'm talking about the sometimes difficult work of maintaining a member participation tracking system in your association. A way of knowing how many and which programs or activities each member is participating in.

System 116

Budgets and Bandwidth

Eric Lanke

Budgets and bandwidth -- two words that have received a lot of attention from me this week. Budgets because I've started sharpening the pencil on next fiscal year's budget for my association, and bandwidth because I've somehow found myself in the middle of four major projects, all hitting at about the same time. And something occurred to me. Money will only go so far.

Cost 122

Deliver Effective Online Education and Events Your Members Will Love

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You Are The Association

Eric Lanke

This past week one of my staff members retired from working for our association. She has been with the organization for just over 30 years. At the celebratory lunch we threw in her honor I asked her how many former Executive Directors of the association she had worked with. She she, somewhat matter-of-factly, that our association has had a total of five Executive Directors in its history, and that she has worked for four of them.

Team 109

Meetings with Purpose

Eric Lanke

I think I've mentioned before that I got my start in association management as a meeting planner. When I started I had zero experience. It was entry-level, and someone simply gave me a chance to provide myself. I found that I had a knack for it, and pretty soon my career in association management was off and running. I say association management, but honestly, for a time I thought I might be looking at a career in meeting planning.

Ode to the Lonely Trade Show Worker

Eric Lanke

I attended a trade show this past week. It's something I haven't done in a while, and I was surprised by how little things have changed. Aisle carpet, booth numbers, giant computer screens, shiny products on lucite display stands. And, of course, booth personnel. Except booth personnel come in several varieties. Forget for a second about the suit-coated or polo-shirted legions that scramble across the big island spaces like ants on a picnic basket.

Course 130

Podcasting Creates Interest and Excitement

Eric Lanke

Today we launched a podcast at my association. It's called Fluid Power Forward , and on it, we plan to interview interesting people who are helping to move fluid power technology forward. If you're interested, you can listen to our first episode here. The project was fairly long in coming.

The Pro’s Guide To Getting The Best ROI From Your New LMS

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Keeping Up with the Waterfall

Eric Lanke

My association's Board of Directors has eighteen people on it. Whenever I'm comparing notes with other association executives about how big our boards are, I usually joke that I like having eighteen people on my Board because it guarantees that I can get at least twelve to show up at my Board meetings. I'm only half joking. It's not unusual for three or four Board members to be unable to attend any particular Board meeting.

The Facilitator's Job

Eric Lanke

I was asked to facilitate one of the breakouts at the last conference I attended. (If If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that last week I said I had six more conferences and workshops to attend before the end of the year.) The conference organizer reached out to me, I assume primarily because of my position as the President/CEO of the trade association that represents the technology that would be the focus of the breakout, and asked me to take on this role.

Always On the Go

Eric Lanke

I had a day this week that defied logic. In the office at 7:00 AM, on the road at 9:30 AM, a conference presentation at 11:30 AM, back on the road at 12:30 PM, a conference call in the car at 1:00 PM, a planning meeting back in the office at 3:00 PM. And all throughout, checking and responding to emails, Tweets, and LinkedIn posts. I got it all done, and I did it with grace and skill. I'm not trying to toot my own horn; just commenting on how normal things that are actually crazy seem.

The Right Way

Eric Lanke

It's budget time at the association I work for. And what I mean by that is that the budget for our new fiscal year has been approved by our Board of Directors, and now it's time to code all our projected expenses for upload into our accounting system, and to prepare the worksheet by which all our staff members can be sure to submit their expenses to the right codes as their invoices come in throughout the year ahead. It's a fairly straightforward yet tedious procedure.

eLearning demand is at an all-time high. Pick the right LMS!

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Talk About How You Will Live Your Values

Eric Lanke

It worked. There's not much more to say than that. Last week, in Behaviors Are a Necessary Part of Values , I wrote about an upcoming discussion on values at my association's Board meeting. I said then that, in my experience, when it comes to values statements, there is actually something more important than choosing the right top-level words to describe your values. That you have to describe as accurately as possible the behaviors by which you'll know that the values are or are not being lived.

The Chairman's Gift Revisited

Eric Lanke

I wrote a blog post back in July 2012 called The Chairman's Gift. It's a pretty popular post, making most of my year-end Top Five lists, and capturing the eighth most number of pageviews from among the more than 600 posts that have appeared on this blog. In it, I describe a tradition we have in our association of giving a gift to our outgoing Chairman of the Board.

Customer Service Not Worth Emulating

Eric Lanke

A bit of a rant this week. On my most recent business trip, a staff member of mine rented a car for us. She is not a "preferred" member of the rental car company she worked with, so she had to stand in line and wait to be served. It was awful. There was only one agent working the desk and I counted nine people in front of my staff member. I timed how long the first person took at the counter. Eleven minutes. I timed the second. Twelve minutes.

X Matrix by Darrell Casey

Eric Lanke

There’s a long subtitle here: “Strategy Deployment and Execution Process for Breakthrough Business Performance.” The book was given to be by the Board chair of the association I work for and, although clearly written for a manufacturing environment, there are some transferable ideas that could benefit those non-profit organizations. X Matrix is the name of the system the author describes in what is obviously a self-published and, unfortunately, typo-riddled treatise.

Build or Buy an LMS? How to Pick the Right Solution for Your Budget

BUDGET. When it comes to picking your next LMS that six-letter word is probably the most important part of the decision-making process. So, what are your options to get the best possible eLearning solution without breaking the bank? Build it or buy it. This guide from Lambda’s eLearning experts details absolutely everything you need to consider so you can pick the perfect eLearning solution for your organization and budget.

Two Kinds of Association Executives

Eric Lanke

There are two kinds of association executives. Those that come from the industry their association represents, and those that come from the field of association management. I am the latter. In my experience, executives that come from the industry their association represents generally know what to do, but have to learn how to do it. And executives that come from the field of association management, generally know how to do things, but have to learn what to do. That's one way of looking at things.

Is Your Content Generalizable?

Eric Lanke

I attend a fair number of education programs and, as a result, listen to a fair number of speakers and presentations. Sometimes, the most rewarding kind of speaker is someone from outside my industry, speaking on how they address and solve challenges in their industry. I can often find nuggets of wisdom or new ways of approaching my own challenges by listening to these kind of speakers. Innovation frequently comes, after all, straight out of these attempts at cross-fertilization.

Contacts of Quality, Not Just Quantity

Eric Lanke

I lead a trade association. That means that our members are technically companies, not people; but, of course, the companies in question are made up of people, and we work hard to maintain good contacts and communications with those people. A common objective for trade associations is to grow the number of contacts that they have at each of their member companies.

Explaining Red Lights Is Good, But That Doesn't Make Them Not Red

Eric Lanke

This article on caught my eye this week. It's titled Why Companies That Embrace "Red Is Good" Get The Best Results , and it makes that very argument -- that companies that rigidly adhere to an honest and unflinching measure of their success, even if it means putting those dreaded red lights on their color-coded dashboards, do better than those that purposely or otherwise fudge their yardsticks to make sure their dashboards are always covered with those pleasing green lights.

Need Remote Learning ASAP? Don’t Pick Your Next LMS Before Reading This!

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Are Site Visits an Art or a Science?

Eric Lanke

This past week I was on the road again -- this time siting a couple of properties for a future Board strategy retreat. My current association takes the word "retreat" pretty seriously. We're always on the lookout for interesting and exclusive destinations -- places most of our Board members haven't been before, where they can spend some time out of their businesses and in the association, sprinkled with liberal amounts of social activity and outdoor excursions.

System 109

Phone Interviews Are No Longer Just a Skills Check

Eric Lanke

My association is hiring again, and this week I spent a lot of time doing a series of phone interviews. The phone interview has always been a key part of my screening process. If anyone were to ask me, I would have said that I use the phone interview to screen for the skills I'm looking for, and then use the in-person interview to screen for values and cultural fit. And this time, things started very much on that footing. My questions were very much about skills.

Associations Are Not Responsible For Hotel Rooms That Go Unused

Eric Lanke

A while back I wrote a kind of mini-series on this blog I called Paradoxes in Association Management , which I described as the counter-intuitive practices that we must embrace if we want to be successful. I'm not sure if this one really qualifies, but I'm going to try and frame it that way. Associations are not responsible for hotel rooms that go unused. Legally speaking, of course, we are. We signed the contract. The contract says we will utilize a certain number of room nights.

Course 109

The Carver Guide Series on Effective Board Governance by John Carver and Miriam Mayhew Carver

Eric Lanke

Back in 2007 I read Boards That Make a Difference , which lays out the Carver Model of Policy Governance in book form. This series is comprised of twelve short pamphlets, intended to be read by Board members, that explains and accentuates important portions of that overall Model. The association I work for has been using its own adapted form of the Carver Model for a number of years now, so reading this series was a good refresher for me.

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Risk and Reward

Eric Lanke

I think I've written on this blog before about the Technology Roadmap that my association maintains for the industry we represent. If not, as a quick introduction, our Technology Roadmap describes an industry-wide consensus regarding the pre-competitive research and development needs associated with improving the design, manufacture, and function of fluid power components and systems.

Clarity Is Fleeting

Eric Lanke

I was on the road for much of this past week. I was attending one of my association's major workforce development programs in and around Denver, Colorado, but where I was and what I was doing is not really relevant for the purposes of this post. What is relevant is that I was away from my office, and that while I was away I was able to get a clear picture on several of the issues that have been vexing me of late.

Denver 109

Going Where There Are No Podiums

Eric Lanke

Not too long ago I wrote a post about Getting Out From Behind the Podium when giving a talk at my association's Annual Conference. For the first time in a decade, as I describe in that post, I got out from behind the podium and walked the stage while delivering my speech, like many of the professional speakers that we hire do. Last week I had another speaking opportunity. This time one of my members had invited me to come and speak at his company's sales conference.

Eight Is Enough

Eric Lanke

Eight years ago, on September 5, 2011, I made my first post on this blog. I called it " Recipes for Innovation ," and in it, I talked about several things that were heavy on my mind at the time, including my then soon-to-be-ending first foray into blogging, The Hourglass Blog. Since that time, I have managed to make a post appear here every Monday morning, a post almost always focused on some aspect of my professional experiences as an association executive.

AMC-Managed Organizations are More Stable than Standalone Organizations

Why do organizations managed by Association Management Companies outperform standalone organizations? This paper seeks to answer that question through the results of a study examining the rates of change in the length of chief staff executive tenure and changes in office locations of membership-based organizations between 2009 and 2015.