Turning a tanker: recreating one of the oldest membership organisations around

April 24th, 2008

Hi Sophia - I found this post very inspiring.

 What used to happen of course is that the 'strategy' was invisible and we would just marvel at the results.  I like very much the openness of this process at the RSA and I think it is an important aspect of its long term success. By understanding the ideas behind the actions it helps all the Fellows develop a more constructive perspective on time scales and developments.

I wish I had read this before writing elsewhere that I don't like the boat turning metaphor ..... but in my view the RSA is currently more like a rather exciting swirling animation of human thought, enthusiasm and goodwill! 



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Leadership .... anyone?

April 24th, 2008

Thanks David for your interesting comment.  I am curious about the difference between members and customers and this definition seems important.  Customers seem to  people that buy your product or service and largely don't need to be connected to one another.  Members seem to be people to 'join' something for a 'mutual relationship' as you describe, with both the organisation and the other members.  The difference is community I think?

 There are a number of businesses which attempt or have already tried to create online communities with customers, forums etc.  When the motivation for creating these communities is to sell more to the existing customers then I think this can diminish some of the genuine membership communities... Or not? What do you think?

When people refer to the 'membership offering' it seems once again that the judgement is one sided i.e. what can the organisation do for me.... rather than what we can do together? 

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Leadership .... anyone?

April 23rd, 2008


An e-book I wrote entitled "The Connection Culture: A New Source of Competitive Advantage" was recently published by  My Google Alerts picked up your blog post because you used the term "Connection Culture."

In the speaking, writing and training my colleagues and I do with organizations, we specifically outline the responsibilities of both members and leaders.  As you say in your post, responsibilities go both ways.  Provided that members have received the benefits of membership (including the Vision, Value and Voice elements in a Connection Culture), they have the responsibility to give their best efforts to execute the decisions made by the individuals who have been given decision-making authority.  We also tell leaders that they need to be careful about going against the consensus view because the consensus is usually right. That's not always the case, however.  Leaders should be held accountable for the decisions they've made so that if in their judgement the right decision differs from the consensus view, they need to make that decision and "Committed Members" have the responsibility to execute it to the best of their ability.  When Don Regan ran Merrill Lynch in the late 70s, Regan made the decision to launch the Cash Management Account (CMA) even thought the vast majority at Merrill was against it.  The CMA turned out to be a major innovation in financial services and a huge success for Merrill Lynch and its clients. The consensus is not infallible.  It was a consensus that executed Socrates and elected Hitler.  It's wise for all of us to keep these examples in mind.  

A Connection Culture provides the best political, economic and social system to make and execute decisions.  For more about the Connection Culture, you can download my free e-book at this link:

All the best,

Michael Lee Stallard


E Pluribus Partners

Greenwich, Connecticut 

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Leadership .... anyone?

April 22nd, 2008

Tessy - your reflection on the role of organisational leaders, and members, chimes with some of the issues raised at today's NCVO membership conference. One strand was about the need to make clear offers of services in marketing to members ... but another was on mutuality of relationship. Marriage was used as a metaphor by one speaker. We also talked about membership as a "badge of honour" and the increasing potential for members to network with each other, with little or limited support from the centre. That suggests members will need to reflect upon their responsibilities and commitment to each other.

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attracting a younger audience

April 19th, 2008

Laura - I think you have hit on a really important point ... that social media isn't some magic ingredient that will attract young people, women or any other group that may display higher than general usual.

I suspect that those members who are social media users they may expect their organisation to offer that as part of the mix .... but offering social media won't attract "sm users". They'll probably find what's offered by any organisation less attractive than social media "in the wild" because of inevitable constraints.

What introducing social media will do, I believe, is push the organisation and its members to consider with greater sophistication just what the organisation is for, and consequently what the offer is to members. Is it mainly for member benefit, campaigning, project development? Each purpose, and associated activities, requires a different sort of media mix. I think that RSA Networks has already raised these issues, and no doubt more will emerge as the programme is integrated with the new site.

I hope RSA can continue to take a lead in discussing these challenges openly and encouraging others to join in. It's a foreign country, and we need all the guidance we can find!

I also wholly agree about a mix of methods.  Ed Mitchell has a good item and podcast on the need for blending online-offline and much more.

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