They Gamified My Cereal! 


We have been preparing a presentation for our webinar on gamification next month, so the topic was on my mind.  This morning I was surprised to see a game on the back of my Honeycomb cereal (yes I'm still eating kids cereal once in a while). Actually I was not too surprised to see a game. In the past they've had activities like a maze or Where's Waldo game. But now they have jumped on board the Social Meda and engagement train. "Its not about what you do, it's how you make it yours", is the heading on the back of the box.  "RU Honeycomb 2 UR Core?", they ask. They specifically call out to skateboarders, music lovers and gaming. They give examples of the kinds of posts you could make.  Highest number of cereal pieces stacked, unusual foods to eat the cereal with.  They suggest posting a video to show "what makes you an original, like Honeycomb."  Brilliant! 

This is a good example and reminder that almost anything can be gamified with a little creativity.  Brands are not just selling, they are engaging and including.  Gathering info from the community about their product.  If they are listening to the responses, they are likely to learn a lot about the community.  Non Profits could use this same strategy to engage and learn from members.  You may want to skip the videos on cereal stacking :-)

What is the most unusual thing you have seen gamified?

Check out our webinar on Gamification.

Iteration: One Key Element of Design Thinking

Recently I was doing some research on a new technology and I was reminded of the value of iteration. During the research I noticed a very large number of failed attempts of getting the new technology to work. This reminded me of similar past experiences where trying something new often caused many, many failed attempts before something of value or usefulness was produced. It was a good reminder for me that many attempts actually produce very valuable insights. Each failed attempt is a painful experience, an emotional experience. That emotional experience forces a memory of what does not work. This emotional connection allows us to move forward in a new direction away from the failed attempt. The cycle of build, test, fail, feedback, learn and iterate, is invaluable to the development process that can be accomplished in no other way.

It is this process that design thinking emphasizes. Design Thinking is an approach whereby this process is accelerated allowing multiple iterations and in much shorter timeframe. The end result is a shorter time to a useful product or solution.

What problem would you apply Design Thinking to in your organization?  Comments welcome.

Crowdsourcing - What is it good for?

Crowdsourcing allows business to take innovation and creativity to a new level by collecting information from hundreds of minds and varied experiences. It allows anyone to contribute their ideas leaving race, gender, social standing, out.. There are a plethora of ways to utilize crowdsourcing for your next association conference that will engage your crowd and keep them talking after it ends.

One form of Crowdsourcing is Gamification. With gamification, you can motivate attendees to contribute valuable ideas with a friendly competition through leaderboards and rankings. Or for those less competitive, send them on a scavenger hunt, enabling vendors to reach out people who might not have otherwise visited their exhibit.

Crowdsourcing can be brought into individual sessions as well. Interacting with your crowd is now a lot more effective with interactive games and scores appearing on the big screen in real time.  Ask them questions and have them report back via phone app.  And traveling the room with a mic is a thing of the past. Have them submit their questions using their phone, allowing the speaker to choose what they would like to answer.

After the conference, save valuable conference information in the conference app to be referenced year around.  Questions that weren’t able to be answered during sessions can be placed on the app as well as any other additional information vital to the conference.

Bringing your conference into the 21st century through technology and crowdsourcing is a great way to boost interest in annual events.   “Crowdsourcing provides a platform where age, gender, race and education no longer matter. Only the quality of work matters.” (Jeff Howe “Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business”)   .  Allowing diversity through worldwide problem solving encourages creativity, innovation, and working together.  

If you are interested in learning more, check out our live webinar on Crowdsourcing and experience it first hand during the webinar.

App Engagement Validation from Analytics and Metrics

Creating a solid app with a team of people is just the beginning.  Measuring and analyzing the use of your app is key to app success.  Carefully tracking progress not only aids in understanding how your app is being utilized, but it enables you to focus on whether to adjust features, or devote more energy toward promotion of the app.   By measuring information like shares, comments, likes, and bookmarks you can get a good feel for what your members want more of and content that you should reconsider.

Through measuring results of their app, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association discovered a 300 percent user gain in year over year growth and a 200 percent increase in screen views.    Likewise, keeping attuned to app activity, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) found that from 2015 to 2016 there was a 14 percent increase in engagement.   IFT reached nearly 10,000 likes and 54,000 bookmarks from 9,400 members.  Without analytics and measurement they wouldn’t know how they were doing and whether the content in their app was working.  the Professional Convention Managers Association (PCMA) Vice President of Business Innovation Jason Paganessi states, “Looking at analytics is critical.” This enabled his business to concentrate their energy and resources  where necessary, saving them excessive amounts of time.

Measuring and analyzing app results does not have to be complex. “Keep it simple,” Paganessi advises. Changes should be done one step at a time.  


For more information with regard to analytics and metrics please see the full article published in Association Forum of Chicagoland’s Forum Magazine.

Gratitude is Stronger than Caffeine

Attitude is everything!  That has been my experience.  Recently I was working the mobile app support booth at an event we serve.  It was a large event. The users had lots of questions, mostly about Wifi, not the mobile app.  I helped hundreds of people over the course of a few days and it occurred to me that attitude is so important, both my own and that of the customer.

For example, in the morning when I was fresh and perky (I am a morning person), I felt really friendly and had extra patience.  I was able and happy to greet the customer with a friendly “hi” and perhaps even make a funny remark about the mobile app or how I would help them.  However, after a few hours of answering the same question and the wear of the day, I noticed my attitude was drifting.  My greetings were not as upbeat, and the funny comments were gone.

Likewise, I noticed that some customers were really appreciative of the help I offered and left with a very genuine smile and gracious “thank you”.    While others, well, let’s just say they did not show appreciation and perhaps left some negativity in the air.

I left that event pondering these things as I wrote my trip report.  Then this morning as I arrived early for a networking event downtown, I stopped at a new place for coffee.  I had no expectation since I had not been there before.  I had a question about their drink options and the staff person’s response was a welcome surprise.  She slowed down from her normal pace, leaned forward towards me and made direct eye contact.  She answered my question clearly and took my order.  In the process of our 30 second conversation, I had mentioned that I like my drink “sugary”.  She remembered this when delivering my drink to me and asked me to try it to see if it was sweet enough. She said she would be happy to add more flavor if I did not like it.  WOW!  This was a refreshing attitude.  It’s not that my regular coffee chain gives me a bad attitude or even bad service, but it was the way this person connected and made me feel that I will remember.  Now I will be looking for this coffee chain in the future.


I did make a point to go back and genuinely thank her for her service and told her it made a difference to me with a large smile.  Perhaps I may not have done this had I not just had my own customer support experience.

Carl W. Buehner once said, “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”


How do you respond to those who help you?  Do you expect great service, or appreciate it?

When you are serving others, in any capacity, what is your attitude?


I felt more energized by the great attitude of my server than by the caffeine in my coffee.


Gratitude is stronger than caffeine!

Listening Leads to Learning

Recently at a "event wrap up" meeting, which we do after most client events, we recevied some very helpful feedback. We listened, we planned, and we reviewed. We brainstormed on how to make things better for next year.  We planned a few new features and the client learned a thing or two.

Clients are generally very happy to have a wrap up meeting if they know their input will be received and result in a better product for them.

In this particular case the client suggested a new feature that was already in place, but just did not have the time to learn about it.  The wrap up meeting resulted in the client learning more about the product they were already using.

In the end we learned how to make our product better.  The customer was happy to build a relationship with us and were happy to be part of the team building a better product. A better result for all in the end.

Awards: Why They are a Big Deal for Members and Organizations

When a volunteer is working really hard on a program or for an organization, it is important to be recognized for work well done.  Awards Programs provide an opportunity to recognize volunteers and organizations that go above and beyond. Thanking organization members not only encourages them to continue working hard, it gives a sense of place within the organization.  Awards programs are something members can look forward to each year. It inspires one to push beyond what they believe they are able to do.  Leaders also see the effort made, allowing members to further their organizational objectives.

According to International Franchising Association (IFA), “It is hoped that others will be inspired to emulate those honored thereby making franchising even more successful in the years to come” (  Not only do award programs allow individuals to shine, it validates the credibility of the organization by engaging and encouraging its members. Awards Programs also bring in non dues revenue.  

Holding an awards program allows an organization to get their name out there.  When awards are given to those within the organization who are the best of the best, others see the values held within the company in the person given the award.   The International Franchise Association hopes that in providing an awards program for their association, the attention it gets will reach the public and generate interest in franchising, noting the benefits it will provide to society as a whole.

As there are a plethora of associations out there, varying in vision and objectives, there are an abundance of awards offered to organization members.  One of the most common awards is the Membership Recognition award.  Awarding the renewal of membership not only encourages the renewed party, but others to join.  There are Service Awards and Staff Recognition Awards for those who have devoted their time and effort to the organization.  Community Awards recognize those who have gone out into the community and worked toward improvement through programs.  Association Forum has the Association Forum Award given to leaders who have achieved great things within the association industry (

Educator Awards are offered as well as Student Awards.  Scholarship Awards allow students to compete with a monetary award toward their education.  Associations also provide awards with specific names of those who have contributed greatly to the organization in one way or another.  The American Criminal Justice Association  has the Richard McGrath Memorial Fund Award given to one student each year (  They also have the Ron Pincomb Memorial Fund Award, given to a professional each year. The IFA has the Bonny Levine Award, recognizing women professionals, as well as the Ronald Harrison Award, which both organizations as well as individuals are eligible.

Awards programs not only benefit the individual member or student, but the organization as a whole. It boosts morale among those in the organization and gets their name out there in the community.  

When it comes to the management of your awards program, collection, review and reporting is easily managed by the AAG Submission Management product.  This tool collects the applications and allows for the completed applications to be assigned to reviewers.  Streamlining the process saves staff time and energy, letting you focus on other tasks.   

To learn more see our award page or please contact us

Mentoring by Matching

Mentoring has become increasingly popular with associations recently.  The basic premise is to “match up” the experienced with the novice to exchange ideas, guide and even challenge each to grow beyond their current limits. Some groups are moving past informal to formalized programs and even going hi-tech in the process of matching.


Formalized programs for mentoring can be found in many associations. Groups like the ABA use mentoring to nurture those with disabilities and new to the legal profession with an experienced attorney.


Other groups, like the ALA call their mentoring programs “Emerging Leaders”.  This is another term that has been used in many associations. The ALA has an Emerging Leaders  Program to connect newer library workers with peers and those that can help introduce the ALA structure and grow future leaders.


Working at AAG, I have helped associations formalize this process by using our Biz MatchUp™ software which offers both the mentors and the mentee the ability to review each other's profiles and select who they would like to be matched with.


Mentors can be matched with one or more mentee. Using the Biz MatchUp™ matching software, users can chat with each other before they make their final selections.  The result is high value matches and long term relationships.  Both the members and the association benefit in the end.

Collaborative Work Space - For Real

It is a term often heard recently for those getting new office space, we are moving to a “collaborative work space”.  This was the conversation recently at a business event.  One person was relating to the others in the group about her new office space.  It sounds new, hip and evokes a sense of cutting edge.  Another person made the comment that those “collaborative environments” don’t seem so collaborative when workers put on the earbuds or headsets and “tune out” the people around them.

I had the experience of working in a startup incubator in Chicago which had one of those collaborative and “open” floor plans.  The idea was to put everyone in one open space in order to encourage collaboration.  This is great in theory, but neglects the fundamental human tendency to mind your own business and keep to yourself.  Except for the occasional conversation at the coffee machine, or lunch room talk, generally people do not collaborate.  At least not without some catalyst.

This changed big time for me when the incubator decided to try a new twist on networking. The started doing “speed networking” using Biz MatchUp™ to create the matches  This made a big difference. It helped that they used Biz MatchUp™ to allow attendees of the event to connect before the event, online and choose who they would like to meet.  Then at the event, attendees had a list of the 9 people they would meet with in the next 90 minutes.  It was high energy, fast paced and really helped each person refine and focus their goals for networking.  After repeating your “pitch” 9 times in 90 minutes, you tend to refine and get clarity a little bit each time you deliver.

The big benefit to all in the room was they each got to know 9 people.  And on returning to the collaborative work environment, they could easily engage in conversation because those people were not strangers anymore.  This encourages more idea sharing and people helping each other because they know each other.

The incubator continues to encourage collaboration by having regular speed networking events with these focused matches using Biz MatchUp™.


To learn more about Biz MatchUp™ click here.

Teamwork - The sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

What an incredible thing that can happen when people work together. Working independently it's each of us sitting in our offices, each staring at our individual screens working on our little part of the project making some small progress.  But when the heat is turned up, and the deadlines are looming, suddenly an idea comes to mind. "Hey let's all go into the Strategy Room and work on this project so we can deliver.”

When this happened to our team recently, not only did we tune into what each was working on but we also learned how their part affected our part. This had the effect of rapidly accelerating the rate of progress. We could see the efforts others were making and this encouraged us to push forward with our part. 

Working together actually produces more creative energy. Sharing in the thoughts as the project is developed, increases the communication speed and adds to the overall collaborative and creative process.           

The end result is a project that is delivered faster, more creatively and more integrated with individual functions operating as a whole. In the end teamwork does the job very very well!

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