The big buzz from the American Society of Association Executives and The Center for Association Leadership at its 2006 Annual Meeting and Exposition, held August 19 to 22 at the Boston Convention and Exposition Center, was the release of 7 Measures of Success: What Remarkable Associations Do That Others Don't. The project, based on methodology developed by Jim Collins, author of the books Built to Last and Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don't, was the result of “thousands of hours spent byleaders,” said Susan Sarfati, CAE, president and CEO of The Center for Association Leadership, at a press conference during the meeting.
Sarfati also serves as executive vice president of ASAE and The Center. “ASAE was the first association to apply Jim Collins' research methodology to a nonprofit,” she said, adding that the book outlining the results of the research had sold out at ASAE and the Center's bookstore within the first two days of the conference. “He called us chimps, because we are bright and inquisitive, and called our meetings chimposeums, which brought a lot of fun to the process,” said Sarfati. The Radiological Society of North America, Oak Brook, Ill.; the American College of Cardiology, Bethesda, Md.; and the American Dental Association, Chicago, are cited in the book.
The seven measures of success that resulted from the project are:
Customer-service culture: Everything should be structured around assessing and fulfilling members' needs.
Alignment of products and services with an organization's mission.
Dialogue and engagement: Have a culture in which all staff equally share the responsibility to contribute and add value to the organization.
Visionary thinking: the CEO must be the broker of ideas and must help foster visionary thinking among staff members.
Organizational adaptability: The association must be able to shift gears quickly and learn from experience.
Alliance-building: It's important to be able to build alliances that relate to existing strategies — and to be willing to walk away when an alliance isn't producing good results for both partners.
Boston: A Good Fit
Officials from both ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership and the City of Boston appeared to be pleased with the turnout at the annual meeting. Attendance reached approximately 6,000 (final numbers were not available at press time), beating last year's 5,300 total attendance at ASAE and the Center's conference in Nashville, Tenn. Officials said it was the second-highest executive attendance in the history of the meeting, only a few hundred executives short of the record set at the 1995 annual meeting held in Washington, D.C.
To take advantage of the destination as a whole, ASAE and the Center planned numerous events, including the Club Energy after-hours party, an evening with the Blue Man Group, a fisherman's feast in Boston's North End, a Boston Irish and heritage brewery tour, a Boston Music Bash, a dine-around that coincided with Boston's Restaurant Week celebration, and a final evening concert by the Boston Pops at the Bank of America Pavilion.
The conference was not without its challenges, however. A tunnel problem with the Big Dig project caused some traffic snarls for those traveling to and from the airport, and the foiled terror plot against U.K. planes flying to U.S. cities that included Boston added some last-minute headaches for travelers. Neither problem is expected to continue long-term.
Attendees also complained about the time it took to travel from the hotels to the BCEC. While the association had 25 contracted hotels to accommodate attendees, Graham said that 90 percent stayed in just five of those hotels, including the new 793-room Westin Boston Waterfront that is attached to the BCEC. The 424-room InterContinental Boston Hotel is scheduled to open in November, and the 471-room Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel also is scheduled to open by fall 2007; several other hotels either have opened recently or will be added to the city's inventory in 2007.
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