Turnaround Artist Hits the Mark
The article on how Nancy Berg re-created the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (“Turnaround Artist,” August 2005, page 16,) was excellent because it clearly explained the strategies associations and their exhibitions must implement in order to stay in business.
Based on my 20 years' experience inside associations producing events (National Computer Conference, CES, and PRINT) and six years as an outside consultant for associations, I agree 100 percent with your article that associations must immediately do the following:
a. invest in market research to keep their events relevant,
b. expand exhibitions from a cash cow into an integrated educational and promotional vehicle for their industry, and
c. co-locate with other events to bring more value to their members.
President, Integrated Show
Co-producer of Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum and Large Show Roundtable
My team and I enjoyed reading the article on the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in your August issue. Not only did it allow us to celebrate how far we've come, but it served as a brutal reminder that our change strategies are only in their infancy stage. To call us turnaround artists is a compliment, but our leadership and change journey is not complete.
For example, in staying the course articulated in our Strategic Plan 2010, next year SME will invest millions in new initiatives while gradually, slooowly, whittling away at legacy programs and associated business practices that are less relevant to members and have little or marginal returns. As a result, SME will operate at a deficit budget again next year (fortunately 25 years ofsuccess built a reserve of more than $40 million).
Then there are people issues. Advancing program and process modifications will drive structural and reporting changes and some reductions, including a downsizing of our board of directors. And, since professional societies are all about people, each time you tackle change it affects many people and risks putting your entire organization back into the “storming” stage of change.
These are the times that require the most objectivity and strategic leadership attention — a challenge for association leaders who are at the same time also running competitive businesses. In anticipation of what's ahead for SME, I will be making some interesting announcements over the next few months. Perhaps they will help to motivate readers who strive to be turnaround artists, too.
Executive Director, General Manager
Society of Manufacturing Engineers
Getting a Grip on Katrina
I just read your “Perspective” in AM Extra [go to http://am.meetingsnet.com and click on “ e-newsletter”], and I couldn't agree more. Your words are the first I've read about this terrible disaster that truly spoke to my heart and how I am feeling.
We take so much of life and our daily routine for granted. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has been a reality check for me as well. My heart is heavy and I pray that God is with all those who are suffering.
Linda F. Keith, CMP
Vice President, Meetings & Conferences
Macfadden Protech, LLC
I really appreciated your “Perspectives” piece in AM Extra. I think that so many people around the country and around the world are experiencing the same thing. It's so strange, because I lived through the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in South Miami — Dade county in 1992. To add insult to injury, Katrina's eye passed just a few miles south of us on this run.
For us, it's so easy to understand the reality of what has happened in the Gulf Coast area. We realize that it takes several days for relief to arrive, that it will be months without electricity and water, and that it will be years before the area and the landscape begin to recover and not look like a war zone.
Florida Hospitality Resources Inc.
We are all definitely trying to get a grip on Katrina — and I applaud your organization for putting something out in a timely manner.
I think our industry really blew it after September 11. We didn't encourage folks to think of trade shows and annual meetings from a “people” perspective — that these are communities of people who count on getting together annually, not just for business, but to connect with each other.
You are so right, everything is trivial compared to the pain and overwhelming despair felt by those people dealing with such epic destruction. There's always hope — and we can cling to that.
Joan Gaudion McKinney
Aurora Exhibit Solutions Inc.
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