Saturday, January 11, 2014
Road to Relevance by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers
And that’s all good advice. But Road doesn’t have the punch Race does.
Race was in your face. I think every association professional that read it was challenged by its ideas. It took sound principles and deliberately extended them to radical extremes in an attempt to shake professionals and their associations out of their complacency. There wasn’t a lot of how-to, but Race wasn’t that kind of book.
Road is, or at least it wants to be. And as a result, it’s a lot less controversial. If you want to read some case studies on how other associations have pursued the five strategies it outlines, or if you want some worksheets on how to frame the strategies for your own organization, then Road is worth a look.
But what I really liked about Race was it unapologetic approach. Look, it seemed to say. You’re the CEO. You know things aren’t working as well as they should. But you’re an association CEO, and that means can’t start shaking things up without risking your job. So here’s a way to start framing some necessary conversations with your leadership. It’s just talk, but it’s frank talk, and that’s how everything starts in the association world. Buy this book for your next Board Chair and have a conversation about it. Do that if you do nothing else. Get the ball rolling.
That was great. That was a breath of fresh air. But Road, like so many other books, isn’t about getting the ball rolling. It’s about where that ball is supposed to roll to. Building on strengths, concentrating resources, integrating programs and services, aligning people and processes for efficiency, and abandoning services and activities when necessary--they’re all fine things for you to spend your new political capital on (assuming Race bought you some).
But the prescriptions that Road offers for how to pursue them leave me wanting. It’s not that I disagree with them. It’s that they seem to be written for a different kind of CEO than the one the authors were trying to address in Race.
Race is for the CEO who needs help doing the difficult thing that they know needs doing. Road, on the other hand, is for the CEO who needs help figuring out what to do.
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This post was written by Eric Lanke, an association executive, blogger and author. For more information, visit www.ericlanke.blogspot.com, follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.