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.
  Definition of Black Swan Event An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult to predict.   How did the COVID-19 Crisis Hit One Association? On March 12, 2020, I and my colleague Phil Puckorius, Vice President of Association Laboratory arrived in San Diego. Our goal was to lead the International Warehouse Logistics Association through strategic planning. Here’s what we found upon arriving. California Governor Gavin Newsome had just spoken about the state’s response to the growing crisis. Quickly referred to as the Newsome 250 Policy, for all practical purposes, resulted in wide-spread cancellation of meetings with more than 250 attendees. Respecting growing concerns about the spread of the virus, the Board and staff had acted swiftly. The convention at which the strategic planning meeting was being held had just been cancelled that day. More than 423
Blog take over by Nikki Haton Shanks, Strategist! I’m Nikki, a strategist at Association Laboratory, and I’m stepping in to take over Dean West’s from My Seat at the Bar blog for this month. Association Laboratory held its 2nd Annual Content Strategy Summit on Thursday, November 7 at the OLC in Rosemont, IL, in collaboration with .orgSource with nearly 30 attendees! What did we learn? Research shows the majority of associations are implementing content strategy. What prompted this Summit? Each year Association Laboratory conducts a global scan of the association business environment called Looking Forward™. In 2019, the study collected data from more than 400 association chief staff officers and senior domain executives across 20 industries. And guess what? 54% of Looking Forward respondents said they were implementing Content Strategies. This data point was the basis for a day-long program devoted to thought-provoking questions and strategies related to content.