Hieu Tran asked Shelly Alcorn, CAE, 1/20/2017 2:20:44 PM

Different associations focus on different professions -- does that have a significant impact on how you handle the associations?

1/25/2017 6:39:47 PM,
Shelly Alcorn, CAE replied:
Yes, it absolutely does. Although most associations are similar to each other functionally (i.e., they usually provide membership, social networking and professional development programming, etc.) that is where the similarities end. After that, each association I work with has a completely different culture and temperament. They are all microcosms of the larger society around us. The industry or profession they are employed in has a great deal of influence over the types of mental models and thinking processes they exhibit. For example, business owners tend to be more used to delegating tasks to staff whereas private practitioners tend to want to "do things themselves." Those are, of course, generalizations and certainly not universally applicable. They are just two examples of larger perspectives that need to be taken into account from the beginning to the end of the process.

This is one of the reasons why I heavily depend on collaboration with association staff and key volunteers to give me clues as to "who" I'm working with before I can develop an agenda. One size does not fit all and although I "mix and match" a lot of activities, I invariably end up customizing every agenda for every retreat that I do. Some associations like louder activities, some softer. Some volunteer groups are more introverted, some more gregarious. Some groups seem to naturally engage in conflict, some in consensus. The trick is trying to come in with an approach that has the best chance of working, and then being willing to throw it out the door and do something on the fly if it isn't working. That is also one of the best parts of the job and keeps it interesting.