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April 05, 2007


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Lisa Junker

Very interesting post, Jamie! I think part of why associations have a hard time abandoning strategies is that certain elements of a strategy have whole groups of volunteers associated with them. If your association's strategic goals don't mention your volunteer committees (or a specific committee), your chapters, etc., it can be interpreted as a statement that those groups have no value. Or as the first step toward disbanding a particular group. And even if that group really does provide little value and does need to be disbanded, chances are there are some folks who will fight that to the bitter end.

Perhaps some of the "guts" Seth Godin talks about in the quote you cite is really about confrontation ... confrontation of groups instead of individuals. Certainly developing the skills needed to meet such a confrontation head-on and manage it successfully would be an important first step.

Jamie Notter

Yes! And herein lies the link betwen strategy and leadership. Leadership in associations is defined, primarily, by structure. To be a "leader" you maneuver your way through the various committees, onto the Board, and into the Executive Committee. We accept that as a fact of life. Of course, we also end up developing strategy by structure as well. Each committee writes its section of the plan. Tying leadership and structure to strategy binds your hands. It makes it very personal, when it shouldn't be. Structures should enhance organizational capacity (for both leadership and strategy), but the work of leadership and strategy goes way beyond the structure. I agree that we are weak in controntation skills (respectfully contentious, as I said on my blog), but that will only go so far unless we change our approach to leadership and strategy.

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