An Association Laboratory

By Donna Oser posted 15 days ago


Laboratory items
There is a sort of tension related to running an association that serves association professionals. Think about it: MSAE members do precisely what the society does. As such, you possess considerable expertise and your own professional preferences on the very services we are attempting to provide you. Yes, it's humbling. But, once we dispense with the false notion that MSAE is (or can be) the embodiment of association management perfection, we can embrace MSAE's alternate role, which I think is far more useful: association laboratory. 

As a laboratory for the profession, MSAE is a place that concepts can be explored and potential practices piloted and refined. This role is consistent with the strategic plan the board of directors adopted less than a year ago that envisions MSAE as a forum for growth, knowledge sharing, and thought leadership. In the MSAE laboratory, the community provides the concepts for testing and quality, actionable feedback. The results are relevant to the work and success of our members. Here's a quick update on what's happened lately in the 'laboratory'. 


In late January, MSAE hosted OPS CON 21, a virtual operations conference. Here are key takeaways related to the concepts tested during that event:

Organizational Registration

Given the present budget limitations and the ongoing need for employee professional development, we wanted to see if a group registration fee would be better received than an individual registration fee. 

The results were very favorable for group registration. Organizational registration outperformed individual five times over. It also provided MSAE information on and exposure to potential new customers. We will certainly utilize this registration type again and, when doing so, focus on further improvement of the data collection process and pricing strategy. 

'No Platform' Virtual Event

Association events don't always need the bells and whistles of virtual event management software, and sometimes events cannot absorb the costs. We wanted to see if we could deliver a positive virtual event experience without a virtual event management platform with OPS CON. We used Zoom, an unpublished URL on our website, and an inexpensive help desk app. Users accessed the portions of the event they were interested in after being sent the link via their Zoom account.   

The results were overwhelmingly favorable. Participant feedback during the event and in the post-event evaluation was very positive. The support desk received only two requests for assistance. Several participants reached out to find out how they could replicate it. 

Enriching Brain Breaks

Some people can't wait to step away from their screens during an event break, but others are looking for something useful to keep them connected to the program, so they don't get sucked back into company email. In this event, we decided to elevate the talents of the community by inviting members to create 5-minute videos of enrichment activities of their choosing. 

The results, again, were positive. We ended up with a dozen videos made by association personalities that were beneficial to participants that also served further connect community members. (It's fun and interesting to learn your fellow association member is a techie, musician, or yogi!) Again, feedback from participants was very positive, and the members who created the videos were able to serve their fellow members at a more personal level.  

What experiment would you like to see in your association laboratory? Let us know!

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