Today was an amazing day at the 2012 American Fraternal Alliance Annual Meeting! I’ve been up and moving since 7 o’clock this morning and I’m still charged up! This is mostly due to something I heard during the morning session, which I am now dubbing “The Jim Collins Effect.” If you’re unfamiliar with Jim Collins, he’s an author of a series of books dedicated to teaching leaders and organizations how to succeed by moving them from good to great.
Jim was our keynote speaker at this morning’s session and spent nearly three hours talking to delegates and guests about the fraternal industry, the challenges it faces and the opportunities for growth and increased strength. Over the course of his address, I took page upon page of notes, quotes and thoughts. Jim was truly inspiring and I think he energized everyone in the audience. I know I was.
The reason I called it the “Jim Collins Effect” is because he said something this morning that has stuck with me all day and I can’t get it out of my head. Admittedly, I can be kind of jaded when it comes to keynote speakers because they often bring a lot of buzz words to the table while providing little substance. Jim, however, said something that really resonated with me. He told the us that “a truly enduring organization will preserve the core AND stimulate progress.” He further explained this meant the dual effort of preserving your organization’s values/mission while looking for new ways to build, grow and succeed.
I think this has stuck with me so relentlessly because the sentiment was echoed throughout the rest of the day, in the sessions and workshops. For example, I sat in on two different workshops this afternoon. The first was devoted to governance change and how some fraternal organizations have successfully moved from a convention model to a board model. Many of the presenters talked about how, even after the governance change, they still offered some form of event for members to attend and socialize. This is a great example of preserving the core (continuing to offer members something they value greatly) while stimulating progress (the governance change allows the organization to be more nimble, proactive and successful).
After that, I went to a workshop on social media that was designed to educate attendees on the right way to enter the social media sphere, while still using traditional communication tools. Here again, I saw delegates and guests being shown exactly what Jim was talking about. They were being given information that not only supported their current mission, but also was new to them and could stimulate progress within their organization.
I have a feeling that a lot of what Jim spoke about today is going to stay with me for a long time. He definitely left us with no shortage of things to think about, chew on, mull over (whatever idiom you prefer). I’d be amazed if the entire delegation wasn’t feeling the same way. Based on what I overheard in the halls during breaks, I’m fairly certain they are. But that’s a good thing. Annual meetings are supposed to make their attendees think, grow and challenge themselves. On that account, the 2012 Annual Meeting is already a resounding success and if you weren’t able to join us this year, I encourage you to consider it for next year. It’s time well spent and I guarantee you’ll come away reinvigorated and with a whole new set of professional tools in your arsenal.
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