Is an Executive Director Like a Head Coach?

Almost all the time.

A number of years ago our good friend, Rick Church, President of CM Services in Glen Ellyn, IL, used the title Head Coach on his business card. At the time it struck me as a bit too cute and cliché to be taken seriously. While I may never use this as my actual title, I’ve come to understand the value and importance of the analogy.

Much like head coaches are not directly responsible for selecting players, executive directors do not select who become association board members, or even association members. However, just like coaches, executive directors are held responsible and accountable for results. Perhaps all too often, executive directors need to be aggressive about their management roles and decisions in the face of opinionated board members, much like coaches must be with team owners.

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Conference calls gone bad

Fellow AMC principal Jonathan Strauss posted the link to a routine by the YouTube comedy team Tripp and Tyler http://mashable.com/2014/01/23/conference-call-in-real-life/ highlighting all that can, and too often does, go wrong with teleconference meetings. But teleconference/web-conference meetings don’t have to be this way. I can think of at least 5 basic practices that can avoid the problems highlighted in the video.

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Is There a New Normal — Not So Much

OVERVIEW:
For years the association community has been treated to passionate claims about how the world has been changing, resulting in a new normal or paradigm shifts and how our organizations will become extinct if we don’t change our “membership model,” or “give it all away.” Do these dooms-day claims have merit? Not according to how the community of associations were actually led and managed over the last two decades! According to the data, the association model is still strong and vibrant and not facing extinction.

Download the entire report as a PDF document:
NewNormal-Not-So-Much-print.pdf.

AMCs Manage Client Bottom Lines Through Recession


OVERVIEW: After adding 990 tax return data for 2010 to the original study, we learned that organizations managed by AMCs essentially left the Great Recession behind in 2009, returning to pre-recession operating levels of performance in 2010. Conversely, standalone organizations were still struggling to recover from the recession. We also learned more about the whys of these trends. Basically, the AMC-model was more adept at adjusting expenses to match revenue.

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Data-driven Management Decisions

In the past few years there’s been an increased emphasis on data-driven management in the association management field. This is to be applauded. But data alone will not improve management decisions. At L&M we believe there are five basic steps to solid management studies to increase the likelihood that the right questions are being asked to produce the best answers that time and budget allow.

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AMC-managed Associations Continue to Show Resilience During Recession


OVERVIEW: After updating last year’s study with 2009 data the AMC-model continued to provide better protection than the standalone-model against the impacts of the second year of the recession. In this updated report, revenue and expense trends were also analyzed for both association groups over the four-year period revealing that the AMC-model was better able to align expenses and revenues than the standalone model.


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IMPLICATION: Standalone organizations up to $5M in annual operating revenue should answer one question: “Are we receiving a return on investment in our management model, given that on average we may be spending 50% more for that management approach than if we were managed by an AMC — especially given the performance benefits produced by AMCs?”

Updated study validates value proposition of AMC model

The release of the third study report in as many years comparing the performance of associations managed under the two dominant management models (e.g., standalone and AMC-managed), caused me to reflect on what I was originally looking for when I undertook comparing the operating ratios of associations based on these two models.

My initial goal was to find a credible set of data that would debunk the many myths about AMCs and AMC-managed organizations.

In-house Association Management Services — Bad Idea!

The following is a comment to the article entitled “In-House Association Management Services Checklist” published in the Component Relations section of the ASAE. If you’re an ASAE member you can read the entire article here.

This is an excellent article, for as far as it goes. At first I was taken back and as an AMC owner thinking: ‘this market is competitive enough without a whole new class of competitors….’ But as I thought about the risks not identified in the article, I quickly realized three things.

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Five-Member Board not the panacea promised by Coerver & Byers

Benefits of a Five-Member Board” in the March issue ofAssociations Now (AN) should be read with a high degree of skepticism. I’ve reread the article several times over the past week and I don’t know who deserves more criticism: the authors for promoting a “one-trick pony” as a panacea for the industry-wide malaise that seems to have hit EVERY association (one of their many unsubstantiated claims); or AN’s editorial staff for choosing such a weak treatment of an otherwise important topic for this month’s feature article.

To be fair, this article has some merit, but on balance it contains more erroneous messages than useful knowledge.

My concern is for those relatively new to the profession of association management. I am confident that anyone with some years of association management and governance experience, especially with multiple organizations, would see the same shortcomings I saw in this article.

Here are a few assertions made by the authors I can agree with:

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