Saturday, December 31, 2011

The test of an organization is the spirit of performance

The following is from Peter Drucker's Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. There's not much I can say but, "read this and study it well."
The purpose of an organization is to enable common men to do uncommon things.
No organization can depend on genius; the supply is always scarce and unreliable. It is the test of an organization to make ordinary human beings perform better than they seem capable of, to bring out whatever strength there is in its members, and to use each man’s strength to help all the other members perform. It is the task of organization at the same time to neutralize the  individual weaknesses of its members. The test of an organization is the spirit of performance.

The spirit of performance requires that there be full scope for individual excellence. The focus must be on the strength of a man – on what he can do rather than on what he cannot do.

“Morale” in a an organization does not mean that “people get along together”; the test is performance, not conformance...there is no greater indictment of an organization than that the strength and ability of the outstanding man becomes a threat to the group and his performance a source of difficulty, frustration, and discouragement for the others.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Have dinner, and then have breakfast, with your members.

In a previous post, I asked, "Why not spend a day - or two or three - in the life of your members? Imagine what you could learn by just observing!" This time I will ask, "Why not have dinner, followed by breakfast, with your members?"  Your response will probably be, "But that happens already." If so, consider the following twist used by the executives of the Hampton Hotel chain:
Six or seven times a year, Phil Cordell, Hilton's global head of focused service and Hampton brand management, selects guests in a key market to meet with him and his leadership team for dinner. The next morning, after their stay at Hampton, he meets with them to get a critique. Among other things, some wondered why hotel soap is square and pointy, unlike what they use at home. Hampton changed its soap, as well as addressing dozens of other suggestions to improve a brand that -- with free in-room Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, a money-back guarantee and super-friendly service -- already had many satisfied customers.
You will note they meet with the guests before and after. This approach, as opposed to simply having dinner or doing a focus group, yields unexpected insights.

Let's apply it the association setting by asking: What if, on the eve of your annual meeting, staff were assigned to have dinner with members who were attending (as well as exhibitors). On the last day, they get together for breakfast for a critique of the convention. Think you might learn something? Just asking!

Related articles:  

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Are you wasting money on market research?

Okay, this is a deliberately provocative question. My goal: To get you thinking about the best way to learn about what your members really need. 

Let's begin by considering this example of how Honda, when it was first designing the Civic back in the 1960s, eschewed traditional marketing research in favor of a more direct approach: observing its customers:

A U.S. Honda design team, stalemated on a trunk design project, spent an afternoon in a Disneyland parking lot observing what people put into and took out of their car trunks and what kind of motion was involved...Honda didn't hire an outside market research firm to provide stacks of data about trunk usage. They took a more direct approach and ultimately came up with anew design. 
(From: Competing for the Future by Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad)
So ask yourself: Would a "more direct approach" work for your association? Why not spend a day - or two or three - in the life of your members? Imagine what you could learn by just observing! While you mull that over, take time to read a classic article, Spend a Day in the Life of Your Customers. The authors note, "A senior executive’s instinctive capacity to empathize with and gain insights from customers is the single most important skill he or she can use to direct technologies, product and service offerings, communications programs, indeed, all elements of a company’s strategic posture."

'nuff said!

Related article: