Monday, April 8, 2013

Association Turf Battles

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Having just renewed my CAE certification, I thought I'd offer this week's post in the form of a CAE exam question.

A program committee has an idea for program improvement that relates directly to one of the association's special interest groups. The program in question is not something the special interest group has worked on before. To avoid confusion and unnecessary duplication of effort, the association CEO should:

A. Facilitate a conversation between the chair of the committee and the chair of the special interest group, where the program idea and methods for appropriately engaging members of special interest group can be discussed.

B. Communicate with the staff liaison to the program committee and the staff liaison to the special interest group to make sure both understand the program objective.

C. Expect that the staff liaison to the program committee and the staff liaison to the special interest group will fight over whose project it is, and accuse each other of trying to dump more work on the other's plate.

D. All of the above.

The correct answer, unfortunately, is D. 

But why?

Is it because the environment we function is unpredictable, and opportunities for positive change are too often perceived as threats to the status quo?

Is it because everyone's plate is full, and taking on more tasks, especially those that are unfamiliar and not assigned by a direct supervisor, is too horrible to contemplate?

Is it because the CEO hasn't consistently communicated expectations for collaboration and teamwork, and hasn't held people accountable for their previous resistance to these values?

Perhaps "all of the above" is the correct answer here, too.

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This post was written by Eric Lanke, an association executive, blogger and author. For more information, visit, follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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