Eric Lanke

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.

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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.

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Creating an Educated Workforce in Three Phases

Eric Lanke

Two weeks ago, I posted about an upcoming panel discussion I was asked to participate in -- a panel on how associations are successfully working to develop a better educated workforce for the industries they represent. That post can be found here.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

Keeping Up with the Waterfall

Eric Lanke

My association's Board of Directors has eighteen people on it.

Budgets and Bandwidth

Eric Lanke

Budgets and bandwidth -- two words that have received a lot of attention from me this week.

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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 Right Way

Eric Lanke

It's budget time at the association I work for.

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?

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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.

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.

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.

X Matrix by Darrell Casey

Eric Lanke

There’s a long subtitle here: “Strategy Deployment and Execution Process for Breakthrough Business Performance.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Eric Lanke

This article on Forbes.com caught my eye this week.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.)

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.

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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.

Back on Campus

Eric Lanke

I took a short break this week to do a college visit with my 17-year-old son. He's thinking about studying engineering (or math), and so we've been touring a couple of relevant universities to help him decide where he does and does not want to apply.

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Engineering for Eighth Graders

Eric Lanke

My association sponsors an outreach and education program for eighth graders.

Staying Ahead of Your Members

Eric Lanke

There's an old saying among association executives. To be successful, you need to stay ahead of your members. but not too far.

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Looking Back From a Feeling of Triumph

Eric Lanke

My daughter plays the piano and the violin.

Planning for Staff Dinners

Eric Lanke

This week we had a planning meeting for our upcoming Annual Conference. Because our Annual Conference is popular with members this year, and because we ran out of sleeping rooms at our conference hotel, we've moved our staff to another property about a mile and a half down the road.

Closing the Office vs. Working From Home

Eric Lanke

This past week brought the Polar Vortex to the Midwest and with it record-breaking temperatures well below zero.

Avoiding the Rubber Stamp

Eric Lanke

As a kind of follow-up to last week's post on the differences between strategy development and strategy deployment (at least in the way that my association's Board are working to define those terms), I had another conversation on the same subject this week with another Board leader, and this one had a decidedly different feel to it. I was talking to this Board leader about a piece of our next meeting agenda that he was going to lead. He's the chair of one of our Board's strategic task forces, and his role is to lead a thoughtful discussion among his task force on the selected subject, and bring a set of recommendations back to the full Board for action. And the subject we discussed for his task force was decidedly on the deployment side of the spectrum that I described last week. It had to do with resourcing a program that had already been well-baked into our agreed-upon strategy. The discussion at the task force table was going to be focused on determining if the program was achieving the outcomes we sought and, if so, how much it should be resourced and scaled-up in future years. To help prepare for the conversation, my staff had put together a short briefing presentation that our Board leader or the lead staff person could give to the task force. It included a quick definition of the program, the outcomes it sought to achieve, the degree to which it had been resourced so far, the tangible outcomes it had produced, several lessons that we had learned in working on its execution, and a financial projection for possible resources that could be dedicated to its growth. In reviewing all this information, our Board leader seemed to simply nod his head. He had only one question for us. What if the task force simply says, "Looks good. Do that."? What are we going to talk about for the other eighty-nine minutes? Ah yes. We want the Board focused on strategy deployment, but strategy deployment is the staff's job, so too much focus there can lead to an unproductive dynamic that most association professionals are familiar with. Staff brings their plan of action and the Board rubber stamps it. One of the ways to avoid the rubber stamp is to only focus the Board's attention on the deployment plans that require increased investment in order to achieve. Reviewing the planning process for the association's Annual Conference, or dues renewal process, or anything else that is easily and non-controversially budgeted for every year is a waste of the Board's precious time. There are no strategic decisions to be made in these spaces, only tactical ones. The program we're planning to discuss is different. If we were planning to keep it at its current level of investment and impact, there would be nothing for the task force to discuss. But we are contemplating a dramatic increase in resources, growth, and impact. That's not just money that can't be spent on other programs, in our specific case, it's money we may need to pull out of our reserves, and it will also require the addition of staff to help execute it. All three of these realities -- although certainly within the realm of deploying our existing strategy -- are strategic decisions in their own right. Because it's not really the individual steps of the deployment plan that we'll be asking the task force to discuss and the Board subsequently to approve. It's really the decision to move in this direction -- one that will costly, will prevent us from moving in other desired directions, and will be difficult to retreat from if it turns out worse than we expect. That's the core of the discussion that should be had at our Board table, and that is anything other than a rubber stamp. + + + This post first appeared on Eric Lanke's blog , an association executive and author. You can follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at eric.lanke@gmail.com. Image Source [link]. Associations Strategy and Execution

Strategy Development and Deployment

Eric Lanke

Couple of conversations this week with members of my association's Board on the differences between strategy development and strategy deployment. I probably need to provide some background first. My Board recently decided to change our cycle of strategic planning.

Before You Begin: 5 Co-Creation Tips

Eric Lanke

Back in May 2018, I participated in a virtual conference session on co-creation. It was called SURGE Spring 2018, and the organizers just posted a blog summary of some of the points I made in the session.

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