Winning Lessons from the World of Sports

lessons for associationsIn Boston sports, these are “the good old days.” With the Sox winning championships, the Bruins contending for the Cup and Tom Brady slinging passes, it’s pretty fun to be a sports fan here. In honor of Boston sports, here’s what our four teams can teach associations:

From the Red Sox: “Know your role.” When a ball is hit up the middle in baseball, you never see the shortstop and second basemen collide as they both go for it. That’s because they know exactly where the other one will be. This kind of role definition is critical in any organization—know who is doing what. Many organizations lack job descriptions for Board members, or haven’t updated job descriptions for key positions in years. Make this year your “spring training” and be sure that roles are defined.

From the Bruins: “Skate where the puck is going to be.” That was Wayne Gretzky’s mantra: “Some players skate where the puck is, I skate where the puck is going to be.” Consider that with your Board selection process. Are you considering merging with a group? Bring on a Board member who has done some work with bringing two organizations together. Having technology troubles? Bring on a tech-savvy board member. Make sure your Board selections honor your organization’s future, not an individual’s past.

From the Patriots: “Have backup plans.” Football is a game of attrition. Last year the Patriots had injuries to every level of their defense. But they still made the AFC championship. Why? Because they had backup plans. Whether it’s cross training staff or having a “plan B” for that outdoor reception at your annual meeting, make sure you have solid backup plans for everything.

From the Celtics: “What have you done for me lately? No team has won more NBA titles than the Celtics. Whether you’re talking Bill Russell, Larry Bird or Paul Pierce, they dominated for many eras. But none of that matters right now—they’re a below average team at best, playing for a lottery pick. So they’re pretty low on the Boston sports pecking order at the moment. Similarly, your members aren’t going to keep rejoining based on what you did four years ago. Your members want to know what will happen in 2014, not what happened in 2004. So be sure to constantly deliver and communicate value—the only banner that people want to see in the Boston Garden is the next one, and you should be building toward that in your organization.

Association Membership Recruiting and Retention

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