As the sun slowly set behind the dune near our house, I looked over at my wife, Martha. She had been diligently planting a new, native plant in our garden. You could already envision the color of the flowers, their scent on a cool morning. Suddenly, she stood up, swept her hair back and glanced at the lowering sun. Then, like some sort of Instagram model, she turned and smiled at me. Wow, I thought, gardening provides great lessons in business strategy. She said something then, but frankly I’d stopped paying attention. Bloggin and all. My wife and I are not (yet) farmers, but it seems that way sometimes. Between our house gardens and community garden, most of our summer scheduling revolves around how to keep everything watered. Work is a welcome break. At our home in Chicago, our first garden together began as a house surrounded by small
This month I finally caught the bug. What I’d avoided for months. It was bound to happen despite all the precautions. The self isolation. The mask wearing. The blog writing. Yes, I came down with ASL or acute spring laziness. Luckily, our strategist, and leader of our newly created Hollywood and Entertainment Practice,  Nikki Golden, CAE was on the ball. She volunteered (insisted? demanded?) to take over this month’s From My Seat at the (Home) Bar with her insights about this year’s  Oscars. What we often forget (well not me, I’m not forgetful like you) is that the Oscars are just an award show produced by an association. A run-of-the-mill 501(c)(6). The Oscars is virtually identical to what many of us produce. For example They honor peoples’ accomplishments – we honor peoples’ accomplishments. They record – we record. They have a bar – we have a bar. They have
Recently, Association Laboratory conducted a workshop yesterday called Connecting Content to Relevance, on content strategy. This is one of a series of workshops we’re producing called Looking Forward Together. These workshops are based on our environmental scan of the association strategy environment, Looking Forward. Today, it dawned on me, that I talk on content strategy more often than membership strategy. Putting on my “thoughtful” cap, I pondered the evolution of associations in the content space and considered the insights gained from our participants yesterday. Why is content strategy for associations so important? Content strategy is the most substantial emerging strategy of associations according to association executives. Consider the following data collected from nearly 500 association leaders in Looking Forward 2020. 53% say they are implementing content strategies to increase Mission impact. 75% say they are working to provide more robust content. Content strategy is so important because it supports
Recently, I saw an Instagram meme stating that at the end (end?) of the Pandemic, you emerge as a Monk, Hunk, Chunk, or Drunk. Personas that are based on our Pandemic-based lifestyle. These personas are not mutually exclusive. In consulting we use the Venn Diagram to improve our understanding of how things are connected. #consultinglife #visualization #pretentiousass Today? Let’s address the Chunk circle. You can’t just spend your time drinking your way through the Pandemic. #Drunk During the Pandemic, many of us faced various forms of lockdowns. We found ourselves having to cook far more often. We tried to take advantage of the ingredients and foodstuffs on hand to avoid grocery shopping. We did a quick re-learning of the depression era lessons our grandparents and parents lectured us about (blah blah blah, we were poor, blah, blah, blah, etc.). Our food, and the steps we took to procure and
I was officially tired. From before sunup, to long after it had set, opening day of deer season 2020 had been a long one. After 16 ½ hours of total time deer hunting I collapsed, exhausted into bed. Too tired to eat (except ice cream) and too tired to drink (except two Manhattans), I had just completed my first solo (as in by myself) deer hunt in Southwest Wisconsin at my friend Phil’s farm. (Keep reading for awesome hunt pics.) The result was a nice doe for the freezer.  It took my longest shot (175 yard), my longest drag (½ mile uphill across hills and fields), and my first-time skinning and butchering a deer (in the dark on a tarp near the road) to make it a reality. All by my lonesome. As I lay down in bed pretty damn happy and satisfied, what came to mind? The similarities
Would you like to know the most substantial issues facing your members? Assess the challenges that associations will need to overcome to be successful in a dynamic and uncertain future? Of course, you do. You can’t just spend your time drinking your way through the pandemic. A fantasy? Nope, saddle up association executives and get ready to participate in the most recent, relevant, and comprehensive environmental scan of the association sector in history. History is Dead.   One of the most difficult challenges facing leaders is preparing for the future. Historically, we would look behind us. Examine what worked and didn’t work. We’d adjust accordingly. The COVID-19 Pandemic has destroyed this approach. We can no longer assume that the historical assumptions driving our strategy are valid. On November 9, Association Laboratory will be deploying the association sector’s most comprehensive environmental scan, Looking Forward™ 2021. Looking Forward™, now in its
Founded and led by  Association Laboratory Inc, the Alliance is a collaboration of nearly 20 state, national, specialty and global societies of association executives partnering to investigate, lead the discussion of and provide insight into the future of the association business model.   In July, I spoke with a group of association executives about the future of the association business model given the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, the focus was on the immediate impact. Will we survive? Will our new ideas to adapt work? Will I have a job? It is critical to begin looking up from our desks and start identifying the changes that will shape the decisions of association leaders for years to come. In response and in cooperation with the Association Laboratory Research Alliance, Association Laboratory began working on Looking Forward™ 2021, the 10th edition of the company’s globally recognized environmental scan of the association
The COVID-19 Pandemic highlighted how ill prepared association leaders were for a black swan event- an event beyond our imagining. In January, we all had assumptions about the world within which we would need to be successful. These assumptions drove our strategy and informed our leadership. Assumptions, that by April 1, just three months later, were no longer useful, accurate or relevant. Our meetings were cancelled, our staff was virtual, and our future was uncertain. What now? What are the implications on members, associations and our strategy moving forward? What will be the future of the association business model? To address these questions, Association Laboratory, in cooperation with the members of the Association Laboratory Research Alliance (Alliance) are implementing the most substantial association environmental scan ever conducted. Looking Forward 2021 What is the Association Laboratory Research Alliance doing? The Association Laboratory Research Alliance is a global cooperative of state,
OK, I get it. You’re doing a virtual event. We do them here at Association Laboratory too. While the lessons from our planners are great, what really matters is the insight we gain from attendees. With that in mind, I introduce our Strategist Nikki Golden, CAE as she takes over this month’s blog From My Seat at the Bar. Let’s hear about the lessons took away as an attendee at a recent Insights Association virtual conference. Take it away Nikki. I attended a virtual conference. Here are some things to consider. Nothing has made me prouder to work in the association world than the nimbleness so many groups have displayed in switching from an in-person conference to a digital one—many, in just a few short weeks. This month, I was lucky to participate as an attendee in a three-day, afternoon-only event produced by the Insights Association. Here are some
It’s foolish to have a blog called, From My Seat at the Bar, and not provide insight into booze now and then. How, I as a leader of a company during this crisis, effectively self-medicate to improve moral and performance (my own). We now know, thanks to our government leaders, that liquor stores are considered an essential service. Something most of us have known for quite some time. Our instinctive drink choices give insight into how we cope with difficult or changing times. Why work so hard when every answer to every question can be found in your liquor cabinet? Let’s begin.