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It’s been almost two months since we celebrated athletes from around the world and watched the Olympic flame get extinguished in a dazzling and bittersweet celebration of globalism, athletic exceptionalism and fair play.
As the triumphs and heartbreaks fade from the public's memory, I must admit I miss the daily coverage of all the Olympic events. More so, I miss learning about some of America’s most compelling citizens.
While we begin the long wait for the 2020 Olympics to begin in Tokyo, I’d like to reflect on two lessons I learned from this year’s Olympic Games that are applicable to my role as an association executive.
Lesson 1: Fostering Collaboration Can Create a Foundation for Success When Márta Károlyi took the reins as the USA Gymnastics’ national team coordinator and head coach in 2001, she made changes that would transform the struggling program into a juggernaut.
To quote SB Nation’s Lauren Hopkins, Károlyi:
“… [Károlyi] made crucial changes in an effort to find a balance between Bela’s one-man show and the "too many cooks" circus of coaches before that.”
Károlyi realized the power struggle between national and personal coaches was hurting the overall program. She also witnessed how the lack of relationships between gymnasts made it difficult for the athletes to perform as a team on the national level.
Károlyi’s solution? Convert her Huntsville, Texas ranch into a training facility - now an official Olympic Training Center - with camp cottages. Top gymnasts and their coaches gather there for one week a month to learn from each other, network and create lasting relationships. Károlyi’s idea completely changed the culture of USA Women’s Gymnastics. With a focus on collaboration and teamwork, instead of individual success, she was able to develop USA Women’s Gymnastics program into the dominating competitors we witnessed in Rio.
Things to consider: How can associations foster collaboration?
Lesson 2: Bench marking Performance Can Lead to be Better Results A dropped baton. A solo re-run. Gold medal success. There are many lessons that can be learned from the controversial USA women’s 4x100 relay race – how to react to outside forces, maintaining composure in the face of adversity to name a couple.
However, I’d like to focus on a less obvious takeaway. The power of bench marking to improve performance. The USA women’s 4x100 relay team was forced to re-run the trial race alone on the track after Allyson Felix dropped the baton due to being bumped by a competitor during the hand off. There was concern the runners would not be as successful without the other competitors. They needed to beat China’s time of 42.70 to progress. And they did. The team was timed at 41.77, the top qualifying time. So you’re probably wondering how this is a lesson for bench marking? During the finals with the other runners on the track, the team was timed at 41.01. With other runners on the track, the USA team was able to push themselves to a faster time proving that competition can drive higher performance. They left proudly with gold metals around their neck.
Things to consider: How can associations help benchmark performance?
Conclusion Do you think you can incorporate these considerations to improve the professional environment that your members work in? Share in the comments below if you've learned any lessons from the Olympics or from any other unconventional source.
The Association Societies Alliance's (ASA) newly approved annual leadership award has been named after and posthumously awarded to the late Shane Yates, CAE, CMP, CTA, former executive director of the Ohio Society of Association Executives (OSAE). This award honors his memory and contributions to the association sector after he unexpectedly passed away this spring.
One of the principle roles of associations is to advocate on behalf of their memberships before the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATIONS DAY 2019 | MARCH 28-29 | WASHINGTON D.C.
American Associations Day is the only legislative fly-in where association professionals like you can connect with Congressional offices and share your story on important association issues. This year our issues will be the value of association meetings to the economy and society along with association tax issues.
This unique opportunity allows you, as an association professional, to create connections with policy-makers that will not only advance the association industry, but your own organization as well. Join MSAE and the Michigan association delegation to attend the ASAE Board reception and network with leaders in our field.
Local, state, national and international associations are all reevaluating and shoring up their research programs. Associations have a unique position in that they represent a specific industry or profession that can collect data that provides value.
Every association is different. But no matter who you are or whom you represent, one thing is for certain: there is lot of work to be done.
Whether it’s managing members, raising funds, contending with new rules and regulations, or delivering quality programs that serve your mission, there is only so much that can be done in a given day, week, or year.
And that’s not when you’re trying to hire new employees or keep existing ones, or reduce overhead costs, or stay up to date with new technology and ways of communicating.
Does this sound stressful? Perhaps a bit. But that’s part of the job — managing people, processes, finances, and beyond.
The most successful associations are efficient, tech-savvy, and skilled at communicating with members, sponsors, and their local (and online) communities.
Another trait these associations share: They track employee time.
On Wednesday, March 9th, MSAE President Cheryl Ronk will be honored with ASAE's first ever Association Political Leadership Award at American Associations Day. The award will be presented by John H. Graham IV, president and CEO of The Center for Association Leadership. The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill.