Posts from 2016

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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