Maybe it’s all about the context.
This video is really, really great – stay with it until the end and you won’t regret it!
P.S. Thanks to Kent Anderson for sharing this.
One of the most interesting sessions at the Great Ideas Conference last week was “The Association of the Future” – but maybe not for the reasons you might think.
It’s a project of ASAE and the Center, where young staff and volunteers invent and try to improve a fictitious association in a kind of test kitchen. Its mission was to improve the professional development opportunities of young professionals.
It had a four-part mantra: Members come first. No silos. Listen and then talk. Go techno.
So far so good.
After developing their initial model, the members’ early feedback was that the volunteer opportunities for this faux association weren’t meaningful. OK, stuff happens. So the staff went to the drawing board and came back with solutions sounded decidedly old school, including:
- Restructure councils
- Invent new councils
- Create ad hoc groups and task forces
- Develop partnerships with other organizations.
- Develop new incentives and recognition programs
These recommendations all rely on tweaking governance an infrastructure, instead of questioning whether they were actually addressing what members want and need.
To several of us in the room, these were surprising and disappointing remedies, especially since the people doing the work were millennials and Gen Xers, supposedly immune from these old-school tactics!
Not surprisingly, the “member” feedback was less than enthusiastic. Among other things, they said they were overwhelmed by the number of suggestions. The “staff” admitted they used a throw-spaghetti-on-the-wall approach – see what sticks. As an experiment, this might be defensible. But in real life, it usually isn’t.
Was this project a failure? No! It was actually incredible instructive. It demonstrated that:
- Reinventing yourself is deceptively hard work
- Your age and generation guarantees nothing
- It’s really easy to lapse into the familiar
- It’s hard to re-examine fundamental assumptions, even if the association is new and it’s not even real
- Crowdsourcing might have produced a different result. Doing things the same old way usually produces the same old result.
The staff and volunteers who presented this session have to be commended for their courage in subjecting themselves to this kind of public autopsy. I love the way they took it as a learning opportunity – one that we can all learn from as they move forward.
The Great Ideas Conference, sponsored last week by ASAE and the Center, was more than another conference with some interesting education sessions and good times with friends. It featured a game changer that will stay with me for a long time.
Many others have written about Dan Pink’s exciting talk about intrinsic motivation, the forces that really motivate human beings today. I had finished reading Dan’s book on the flight to the conference, so the content of his talk wasn’t a revelation. But his appearance imprinted it on my brain. It’s rocked me in a big way.
A quick recap:
At the beginning of our existence, humans were motivated by basic bodily needs: Food, sex, shelter, etc. That’s Motivation 1.0.
When basic needs were more-or-less handled in developed countries, Motivation 2.0 was designed: rewards and punishment. Most management practices are based on this 2.0 model. But social scientists have noticed something very strange. Motivation wasn’t 2.0 was working. And the more it was applied, the results were worse. What was missing?
It’s the recognition that human beings have powerful intrinsic motivations that are not addressed by the old models – intrinsic motivations that common management techniques write off. Ever see a young child play? Do they need a bonus to be engaged in what they do?
It’s Motivation 3.0, and its three building blocks are autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Autonomy: The more people have control over their lives, the happier they are. Self determination is the path to engagement. Our country is built on this principle.
Mastery: We are wired to want to be better at what we do. The mastery of something is its own reward. It may be the most powerful thing driving us.
Purpose: We are happiest when we are working for something larger than ourselves.
This is a game changer of the highest order. Autonomy is deeply threatening to those who micromanage. Mastery is disorienting to those who believe people try to do the least they can get away with. The purpose motive is unfathomable to those who lock “strategic planning” in the organization’s ivory tower.
I like to think that I intuitively lean in the direction of Motivation 3.0, probably because I crave this for myself. But Dan Pink’s talk had me reflecting on the areas where I still fall short – in my own life, in my family, with the people in my department, and even with the members of our medical society who volunteer for committees.
In my career, work is least fulfilling when one of these three pieces is missing. My daughters chafe the most when autonomy is not an option (admit, parents, you do it too). At work, I can almost see them go numb when I become unnecessarily prescriptive.
The entire vocabulary of management needs reinvention under this framework. People don’t “report to me” and they don’t “work for me.” Even the word “management” has to be re-examined. Words matter, because they frame thinking and inform action.
Of course, anarchy is not the answer. There’s always work to do, and objectives to accomplish. And as Dan Pink said, you can’t get to Motivation 3.0 if the other needs aren’t addressed adequately and fairly. But he has plenty of ideas to have an engaged workforce or community, while getting the work done, within the framework of Motivation 3.0.
But this line of thinking shouldn’t stop with Dan. For those who us who have been inspired by this, we must keep the conversation alive, and put it in place where we live, work, and play.
UPDATE: ASAE and the Center has done something awesome. It’s offering a video of Dan’s Great Ideas talk free, both to members and non members. Enjoy!
A couple of quick thoughts about the #untech10 conference starting tomorrow.
This is what will happen to traditional associations if we don’t get our act together. A crazy group of committed, spirited and smart volunteers can move the world – and they are more than willing to work around a traditional association to get the job done.
Traditional associations can not only coexist with such groups, but thrive. They can always be the platform for like-minded people to get together, learn something together, and do something together – but only if they’re willing to shed outmoded governance and financial structures to do it. As those of us in associations know, this is easier said than done, because there is always a powerful group of stakeholders ready to defend anything of the status quo.
ASAE and the Center is playing its cards right on this one – starting with the wise decision to keep people home, safe and out of DC, and its tacit support for what Maddie Grant, Lindy Dreyer, and many others have put together.
This is totally inspiring. I can’t listen to every minute of every session, but I will drop in as often as I can. I can’t wait!