Session Summary on Super-charging Web Teams

Mark Athitakis, senior editor with ASAE & the Center for Association Leadership, posted a great summary of my presentation last week at the ASAE Technology Conference.

In the session, titled Super-charging Your Web Team: Recruiting, Training, and Managing Your In-house Web Talent, I shared my top tips and secrets on how to maximize the value that your web staff can contribute to your organization. You can read Mark’s notes here on ASAE’s wiki.

Your Global Web Site

Ever since a Brit invented it in Switzerland as part of a European scientific organization, the Web has been intended as a global medium.

Once your site is live, you immediately have access to a global audience that is only going to grow and diversify further in the future. I remember being amazed by the immediate flow of e-mail from around the globe that I started receiving once my name and address were listed as a resource on a new site that launched in 1995.

Yet, most organizations completely ignore the potential for addressing global audiences and their unique needs. The web is an often efficient way to grow your customer base around the world but it will only work effectively in that role if you develop a strategy for why those audiences will receive value from you.

I am speaking on this very issue Thursday at ASAE & the Center’s International Conference in Washington, DC. You can see the program agenda on their site and I have posted my session description below.

If you have any questions you would like addressed during the event, be sure to post them here or send me an e-mail at

(As an aside, with all of its global initiatives, why does ASAE give the International Conference short shrift with an anemic web presence? Seems rather short sighted to me.)

Making your Web Go World Wide: Global Web Site Strategy

The Web is a powerful vehicle for establishing and enhancing your global presence. Maximizing the contribution of your web site to your international strategy takes much more than translating a few pages of content. This session will zero in on these key issues:

  • Defining global strategy in terms of the Web
  • Common strategies and design patterns for global web sites
  • A decision framework for evaluating which approach best supports your goals

Leave this session with a clear understanding of how the Web can support your association’s international goals and how to make it happen.

Why Business Intelligence is Often Stupid

Business intelligence (or BI) has been all the rage for the last couple of years. It is a central topic in ASAE’s Tech conference later this month, with many sessions focused on how to extract data from your systems and present them in shiny dashboard interfaces. There is a problem though:

Many business intelligence tools are plain stupid.

All the dials, speedometers, bar graphs, and status icons in the world won’t help you if you do not first ground your efforts in what data you need to make sound decision in pursuit of your business outcomes. A lot of vendors and consultants out there gloss over these critical issues in pursuit of the BI sale.

Take dashboards, for example. The concept is that a single screen will give you all the data you need to make quick decisions, just like you can with a car dashboard. The problem is, most businesses and organizations don’t have to make a decision in a split second like you do when driving an automobile. Auto dashboards are optimized to give the driver critical feedback in a glance lasting less than a second.

When is the last time you had to make a decision of major import to the organization from your desk in less than a second? It just doesn’t happen.

Yet, a lot of business intelligence dashboard tools look just like the dashboard of a car. It is a literal interpretation that ruins a somewhat valuable idea.

So, what to do?

You have to start with the objectives you are trying to achieve. What process are you putting into place to achieve an objective? What are the measurable steps within that process? What data sources do you need to tap into to generate those measures? How will you use that data to make decisions?

Once you have answered all those questions you should be able to identify what measures you should monitor and how often. If one or more of them matter on a daily basis, a dashboard interface might make a lot of sense for presentation of the data. If not, a simple report will probably meet your needs and save you the time, effort and expense of developing a dashboard you don’t need.

That is being intelligent about your business data.

By the way, I will be presenting a session with Wes Trochlil at the ASAE Technology Conference titled: “Getting Intelligent About Business Intelligence: Finding the Value Behind the Hype.” If you only go to one BI session, I suggest you make it ours.

What Should ASAE Blog About?

Lisa Junker has asked for feedback on what the ASAE Acronym blog should cover in 2008.

My biggest wish as a member and supporter of ASAE is that they would talk more about themselves. This is often a bad idea but I think that ASAE has an opportunity to use blogging as a way to discuss what they are doing as an organization and to engage more directly with their online member community about the society itself. Walk the transparency talk, in other words.

So, Lisa, that’s my suggestion. Good luck in 2008!

Rapid and Participatory Publishing

Here are the slides from another presentation I gave at ASAE’s Great Ideas conference: Rapid and Participatory Publishing. In this presentation I discuss two cases of traditional book publishers who have leveraged the Web to enhance and extend their publishing efforts. These models are a great fit for most associations that have existing publishing operations. The short-form ebook model could also be a good option for an organization looking to get into book publishing.

I have an article discussing this material forthcoming in ASAE’s Journal of Association Leadership. The new issue with my article should be out this month.

Why Innovation Matters

So why does innovation matter? What we did last year worked well enough. Why change?

The answer is that the world is constantly changing around you. Look back five years and consider any element of business, politics, society, even your own personal relationships. I challenge anyone to point to one that has not changed at least moderately.

Given that change is constant, doing what you have always done is not going to get you the same return. If you decide you want to actually raise the bar on what you are achieving, then innovation becomes even more important.

That is why innovation matters. It is required for the ongoing survival of your organization. It is paramount if you wish to improve on your current position today.

Lack of Paper Leads to Slides?

I am preparing for two sessions I am presenting at ASAE’s Great Ideas conference in Orlando. One is about new models for book publishing that leverage the Web and the other is on taking risks with technology.

ASAE has gone paperless for their conferences in the last few years, to save money and a few trees. All the handouts are available for download via their web site. I just noticed how this is impacting how I design my sessions, however.

I like to present visual models for some of my ideas and walk participants through using them in their own work. This keeps everything very practical and helps to translate the material I am sharing into tangible results for the people in the session. If I could distribute a workbook or set of handouts, I could do without slides completely. But I can’t count on anyone actually having the handout in front of them. So, I have to do slides.

It’s a bit counter-intuitive but I think that banning all paper handouts can actually counter another change ASAE has been encouraging, which are more interactive sessions that rely less on slide decks. What do you think?

Deep Thoughts from Peter on Associations and Participation

I was at ASAE’s Annual meeting earlier this week in Chicago and did not blog a single thing about it. Lots of others did, though. (An aside: seems like a blog tipping point was reached at this meeting. Very active and diverse blogging going on all over the place.)

Peter Turner has posted an interesting idea based on the Decision to Join report and Jeff De Cagna’s Ungovernance session:

The longer your association waits to implement governance and product development changes that are more “open and inclusive” to the rank and file member, the more likely you can expect to generate lower retention rates or product sales.

Closed ended models of governance and product development in an era of open innovation and product co-creation is THE CANCER in association management today.

Rings true to me. I think that all the excitement about social media in the association space is a direct response to the subconscious feeling that the time tested models aren’t going to work for much longer.