Monday, July 27, 2009

Finally Something to Blog About

I know I have been very inconsistent, but I have just started reading Chris Anderson's latest book Free - which you can read for free in some versions. The Long Tail is my favorite book, and I am hoping this one can upstage it.

I am getting through it pretty quick and have a lot to say about it.

The first few chapters delve into the history of Free and how it has been used over the ages. One thing I found interesting was when talking about capitalism, socialism and primitive societies, Anderson talks about the link economy and how at a certain point the size of a group comes into play.

...the social bonds that police such mutual aid tend to fray when the size of the group exceeds 150 (termed the "Dunbar Number" -- the empirically observed limit at which the members of a human community can maintain strong links with one another).

When it comes to in-person events/communities/societies, anything greater than 150 tends to fall apart. But, the virtual world has changed all that.

As an association with various meetings and conferences, what if you capped them all at 150? If you provided the right atmosphere, tools and motivation, you could have events where all attendees continued to learn, share and form bonds with one another. I know that the Buzz2009 conference was held to a small number and that the organizers want to keep it that way specifically for the reasons above. Would it be worth it for your meetings?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hierarchy of Change

I can't believe it has been a month since I have posted. Oh well. Such is life. A lot has happened in this month. I am writing this from our new office space, in various stages of construction/repair/cosmetic disarray. By the end of the week, I am hoping we are good to go.

In thinking about everything going on with my association, I wanted to post a few thoughts on change. When an association is going through changes, there are really 4 distinct areas of change. And I believe they fall within this hierarchy:

1. Mission/Vision
2. Strategy
3. Organization
4. Process

The one on top has to be done and set before the one below it. On a rare occasion you can do two of these at the same time, but it is rare. One begets the other starting at the top. The top 2 are really Board activities (with input from members and staff). The bottom 2 are Staff driven, primarily the ED.

This may seem very basic, but I have heard from folks and seen it myself that people are asked to change #3 and #4 before #1 and #2 are all set. All that means is that you will have to make changes again.

I am all for change. Change is good and necessary in many instances. Just go about it in the right order and you will save yourself a lot of headaches.