Components as colleagues: strategies that take your association from parent to partner; A conversation between Adrienne A. Bien, CAE, and Cynthia D'Amour.HOW DO YOU VIEW YOUR COMPONENTS? WHAT type of relationship do your policies and plans create? Are your components children to be told what to do, teens who constantly challenge and roll their eyes, or are they colleagues and partners working side-by-side with you to achieve your association's mission?
If your answer is anything but partner, it may be time to redefine Verb 1. redefine - give a new or different definition to; "She redefined his duties"
define, delimit, delimitate, delineate, specify - determine the essential quality of
2. your relationship and allow your components to reach their potential with you on their team. Like any life change, shifting from parents to partners can be frustrating frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: , puzzling puz·zle
v. puz·zled, puz·zling, puz·zles
1. To baffle or confuse mentally by presenting or being a difficult problem or matter.
2. , and exciting all at once.
The Medical Group Management Association, Englewood, Colorado Englewood is a city in Arapahoe County, Colorado, USA. As of 2005, the city is estimated to have a total population of 32,350. It is part of the Denver-Aurora Metropolitan Area. , has experienced these changes first-hand. Adrienne A. Bien, CAE (1) (Computer-Aided Engineering) Software that analyzes designs which have been created in the computer or that have been created elsewhere and entered into the computer. , vice president of the learning and networking center at MGMA MGMA Medical Group Management Association
MGMA Metro Global Media, Inc. (stock symbol)
MGMA Metal Gutter Manufacturers Association (UK)
MGMA Michigan Gospel Music Association , recently discussed the association's strategy for re-examining its relationship with its components with Cynthia D'Amour, president, People Power Unlimited, Ann Arbor, Michigan
“Ann Arbor” redirects here. For other uses, see Ann Arbor (disambiguation).
Ann Arbor is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County. . Her insights might be helpful to you in evaluating your association's relationship with its components.
Reviewing the history
Cynthia D'Amour: How many components does the Medical Group Management Association have? And how are they set up?
Adrienne A. Bien, CAE: MGMA has 50 state affiliates, many dating back to the 1950s and all operating autonomously with their own governance Governance makes decisions that define expectations, grant power, or verify performance. It consists either of a separate process or of a specific part of management or leadership processes. Sometimes people set up a government to administer these processes and systems. , bylaws The rules and regulations enacted by an association or a corporation to provide a framework for its operation and management.
Bylaws may specify the qualifications, rights, and liabilities of membership, and the powers, duties, and grounds for the dissolution of an , and treasuries. MGMA affiliates cover the whole spectrum, with memberships ranging from 40 to 800. And their activities are just as varied as their membership sizes, and include sponsoring educational programs, publishing newsletters, hosting Web sites, and conducting industry-benchmarking surveys at the state level. Some also lobby at the state level and collaborate with state medical societies, government agencies, and health plans to make significant changes to the delivery of health care. Approximately 40 affiliates have paid staff working at least part-time.
D'Amour: What prompted MGMA to re-examine re·ex·am·ine also re-ex·am·ine
tr.v. re·ex·am·ined, re·ex·am·in·ing, re·ex·am·ines
1. To examine again or anew; review.
2. Law To question (a witness) again after cross-examination. its relationship with its components?
Bien: Across the years Across The Years is one of a few ultrarunning festivals still taking place in the USA. Founded in 1983 by Harold Sieglaff the race has changed over the years in location as well as organisation. Today the race is held at Nardini Manor about 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix, AZ. , working with such diverse groups has proven problematic for MGMA. In 2002, national board members' concerns that state leaders were dissatisfied dis·sat·is·fied
Feeling or exhibiting a lack of contentment or satisfaction.
dis·satis·fied and saw no value in affiliation with MGMA came to a head. On the other side were board members who wondered why MGMA invested resources in the states and asked, "What is MGMA getting in return?" In 2003, the board asked the national staff to create mutually beneficial Adj. 1. mutually beneficial - mutually dependent
dependent - relying on or requiring a person or thing for support, supply, or what is needed; "dependent children"; "dependent on moisture" and mutually satisfactory relationships with all 50 state affiliates in the next three to five years. I was assigned as·sign
tr.v. as·signed, as·sign·ing, as·signs
1. To set apart for a particular purpose; designate: assigned a day for the inspection.
2. to lead this effort.
D'Amour: How has the relationship evolved?
Bien: In the 1980s, MGMA's national-state relationship was marked by distrust--the states suspected that the national organization wanted to take them over. In the early 1990s, MGMA national decided to initiate a program to offer association management services (database support, newsletter publication, and so forth) to the states as a way to build rapport The former name of device management software from Wyse Technology, San Jose, CA (www.wyse.com) that is designed to centrally control up to 100,000+ devices, including Wyse thin clients (see Winterm), Palm, PocketPC and other mobile devices. and trust. However, MGMA did not conduct any market research to determine what services the states wanted or needed because, of course, the mother house knew what was best.
Like the parent of any teenager Teenager
See also Adolescence.
high-school senior has problems with girls and his father. [Am. Drama: O’Neill Ah, Wilderness! in Sobel, 15]
teenaged film character of the 1940s. [Am. quickly learns, MGMA could do no right. Nothing was ever done soon enough, good enough, or cheap enough. And after a taste of support, the states wanted a more in-depth level of service, which was difficult to achieve long-distance and with the available resources.
D'Amour: How did MGMA address the issues?
Bien: MGMA made the decision in the late 1990s to phase out the direct association management support program and encourage the state officers to hire local assistance. We decided to focus on providing global services such as creating a liability insurance group-purchasing program.
Pulling back from association management services improved the relationship but created an at-arm's-length dynamic. This distancing meant that MGMA and the states were following separate paths, making any joint efforts harder to leverage. As a result, there was low awareness among state leaders as to what MGMA does and little connection with MGMA headquarters staff.
D'Amour: As a component relations professional, what did you think of all of this?
Bien: I have observed the maturation maturation /mat·u·ra·tion/ (mach-u-ra´shun)
1. the process of becoming mature.
2. attainment of emotional and intellectual maturity.
3. of the state affiliates in the past 20 years. The state affiliates of today are not the organizations of the 1980s; yet MGMA related to them as if they were. The caliber of state programs and publications has risen impressively, and some state conferences are drawing more than 500 attendees.
I observed my colleagues here in Colorado who lead state associations in other industries, and they have large staffs and even their own buildings. I saw no reason why our state affiliates could not reach this level as well. I wanted MGMA to be the partner that helps them reach that tipping point The point in time in which a technology, procedure, service or philosophy has reached critical mass and becomes mainstream. See network effect. See also tip and ring. sooner rather than later--with our help and not despite us.
D'Amour: Were there economic implications as well?
Bien: Although I have worked with state leaders for two decades and want to see them succeed, there was also a business reason behind redefining the relationship--the states compete with MGMA for dues and education dollars. As budgets tighten, members must make decisions to spend their money where it brings them the most value. Many state educational programs rival ours for quality, and they have the added benefits of local networking and cheaper registration fees. State registration fees are a third of national's fees if not less. The same is true of state dues.
However, I didn't want to hold back state development out of fear that affiliates may be a threat to us. Instead, I wanted MGMA to be their partner as they move to the next stage. By clearly defining state-national roles, we complement each other instead of competing against each other. This way we both use our resources wisely and better serve our members.
In addition, when we work together, we are in a better position to address competition from for-profit educational companies, which are coming in at the state level and positioning themselves as competition to both the state associations as well as MGMA. By combining forces and working collaboratively, we present a united front and maintain our turf turf: see lawn.
In horticulture, the surface layer of soil with its matted, dense vegetation, usually grasses grown for ornamental or recreational use. . MGMA can't match the lower fees these for-profits charge, but the state organizations can.
Researching for success
D'Amour: I'm sure many associations can relate to your reasons for reexamining your relationship with your components. What was the next step?
Bien: Before crafting what a new relationship might look like, we undertook an extensive research effort. I wanted to understand who the state affiliates are today, what they want, and what they see as their envisioned future. I also wanted to understand how other associations relate to their state components. During my research, I discovered two insights that I believe apply to all associations with components:
Autonomy works. Because we do not mandate what services affiliates can provide, each state has been able to focus on the key services their members want--not what we decide they should offer. Our decision to encourage our affiliates to hire paid staff also aided their success. This was validated val·i·date
tr.v. val·i·dat·ed, val·i·dat·ing, val·i·dates
1. To declare or make legally valid.
2. To mark with an indication of official sanction.
3. by research conducted by Peggy Peggy may refer to:
Any of a series of unmanned U.S. space probes sent near Venus, Mars, and Mercury. Mariners 2 (1962) and 5 (1967) passed Venus within 22,000 mi (35,000 km) and 2,500 mi (4,000 km), respectively, and made measurements of temperature and atmospheric density. Management and Marketing, LLC (Logical Link Control) See "LANs" under data link protocol.
LLC - Logical Link Control , Laurel, Maryland Laurel is a Maryland, U.S. city located midway between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Incorporated in 1870, the city maintains a historic district including its Main Street. The official population estimate for Laurel city was 21,945 as of 2006. , which shows the key determinants of strong components are committed leadership, engaged members, paid staff (at least part-time), and a focus on two to three services. (See "Bright Lights, Vibrant Components" in the February 2004 issue of ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT.)
Values should be expressed. By conducting focus groups, we initiated what I call the what-if dialogue. What would be missing for national if there were no state affiliates? What would the states miss if there were no relationship with national? During this dialogue, we learned that as a national organization, we value our state affiliates as a source of future leaders Future Leaders is a UK schools-led charitable organisation that aims to widen the pool of talented leaders especially for urban challenging secondary schools. It was founded in March 2006 by Nat Wei, a former founder of Teach First. , as well as of grassroots advocacy support, expanded visibility for the national brand, sales to non-national members, and input from the grassroots level about emerging trends in the industry.
On the other hand, we learned that our state affiliates value the national organization as a source of leadership training, national leadership opportunities, opportunities for networking with leaders from other states, increased visibility and credibility, education and legislative resources, and expertise and advice on association management.
Identifying the values statements for affiliation between the national organization and the state components was an important first step in building a true partnership.
D'Amour: You mentioned a desire to understand how other associations related to their components. How did you get that?
Bien: To get an association industry perspective, I conducted interviews with the paid staff of other associations' state components. Across industries, here is what state components want and expect from the national association:
* administrative efficiencies without the loss of autonomy (e.g., group purchasing programs for insurance coverage);
* access to expertise--templates, advice, idea sharing from other states;
* leadership training and educational support; and
* acknowledgment acknowledgment, in law, formal declaration or admission by a person who executed an instrument (e.g., a will or a deed) that the instrument is his. The acknowledgment is made before a court, a notary public, or any other authorized person. for what the state contributes.
Most important, components want headquarters to solicit meaningful input from them. This cannot be lip service lip service
Verbal expression of agreement or allegiance, unsupported by real conviction or action; hypocritical respect: . Components want headquarters to truly listen to what they say. Repeatedly I heard from staff, "National only calls when they want something." I was as guilty of this as anyone else.
D'Amour: What other interesting discoveries did you make?
Bien: One of the most interesting pieces of research we did was to look at why we had national members who never participated at the state level and conversely con·verse 1
intr.v. con·versed, con·vers·ing, con·vers·es
1. To engage in a spoken exchange of thoughts, ideas, or feelings; talk. See Synonyms at speak.
2. why there are state members who never become national members. Basically, the size of the organization and the job title of the member were the key determinants.
Occupational title was the best predictor of whether an individual belonged to MGMA at both the state and national levels. Members with titles of CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board. , president, executive director, physician, and medical director had the highest propensity to belong at both levels. Conversely, respondents In the context of marketing research, a representative sample drawn from a larger population of people from whom information is collected and used to develop or confirm marketing strategy. with titles of manager, administrative assistant, or coordinator were least likely to belong at both levels. Further, members at the state and national levels were more likely to come from larger practices. State-only members tended to be from smaller practices and less likely to be higher up in their organizations.
In addition, our research showed that when an individual participates at both levels retention rates are higher. In fact, there is a spillover spill·o·ver
1. The act or an instance of spilling over.
2. An amount or quantity spilled over.
3. A side effect arising from or as if from an unpredicted source: effect. When a national member attends a state meeting, he or she feels good about both the state and national organizations. The same phenomenon happens when a state member goes to a national program or event. Therefore, it is to the advantage of national to promote state membership and vice versa VICE VERSA. On the contrary; on opposite sides. .
D'Amour: With the research complete, what was your next step? How did you launch your effort to establish mutually beneficial and mutually satisfactory relationships?
Bien: As we completed the research phase, I conducted phone interviews and focus groups with our state leaders and staff to better understand their needs. I asked them what they needed to be even better. Basically, it boiled boiled
Adj. 1. boiled - cooked in hot water
cooked - having been prepared for eating by the application of heat down to three areas that they wanted to improve upon:
1. recruiting and retaining members;
2. recruiting and retaining leaders; and
3. providing affordable and accessible education for their members.
We also developed a satisfaction survey that we now send to our state affiliates annually (see sidebar (1) A Windows Vista desktop panel that holds mini applications (gadgets) such as a calendar, calculator, stock ticker and Vonage phone dialer. It is the Windows counterpart to the Dashboard in the Mac. See Windows Vista and gadget. , "In Search of Satisfaction"). The first survey was conducted in 2003 and established our baseline for future comparisons. The first year 80.6 percent of our states indicated that they were satisfied with their relationship with MGMA.
In addition, we synthesized syn·the·sized
1. Relating to or being an instrument whose sound is modified or augmented by a synthesizer.
2. Relating to or being compositions or a composition performed on synthesizers or synthesized instruments. all of our research and came up with a long list of potential initiatives, detailing programs and services that we could provide for the states. We made sure that every proposal related to the states' three key needs. We took the proposals to the state officers and staff for discussion and solicited input at various leadership meetings. We also sent out a mail survey to be sure that everyone had an opportunity to provide input. Taking all comments into account, we developed a plan of action (see sidebar, "Take Action") that we felt addressed state needs and was mutually beneficial to headquarters.
Implementing the plan
D'Amour: Your plan of action included a lot of potential change. How did the states react to your new proposals?
Bien: The incredible aha for me was that the proposals I expected the states to pounce on--such as the revenue-sharing ideas--scored low. The states wanted things such as practice management content that they can use in newsletters, access to MGMA market research data, and better calendaring functions showing future national and state meetings. These were strategies that were relatively easy to implement.
D'Amour: I'm not surprised by that. I've been in several situations where the staff has struggled to create wow-type initiatives, and in feedback the components focus on initiatives that make their volunteer efforts easier. How were your states feeling about MGMA after they got to give feedback on your initiatives?
Bien: By then it was one year later and time for our second satisfaction survey. Bear in mind that we were still conducting research and devising our program, and nothing had been implemented yet. Using our survey format from the baseline year, we surveyed the states again. Our satisfaction score jumped to 91 percent satisfied or very satisfied with their relationship with MGMA. In my mind, this is a phenomenal lcap.
D'Amour: That's more than a 10 percent increase in satisfaction. Your experience is quite a testament for inviting components to co-create as partners. What was your biggest take-away take·a·way
1. A concession, as in a lower level of health benefits, made by a labor union to a company in negotiating a new contract.
2. from your experience with your components?
Bien: There were two major takeaways for me:
1. Communicate and communicate some more. The path to a good relationship with components is paved pave
tr.v. paved, pav·ing, paves
1. To cover with a pavement.
2. To cover uniformly, as if with pavement.
3. To be or compose the pavement of. with ongoing and honest communication. In our case, we asked component leaders what they wanted and built our plans on those expressed needs. We acknowledged the good work they do and the high quality of their educational programs. Inevitably, communication can't always be good news. If we are going to take an action we anticipate a state may not like, we make sure their leaders hear it from us first. It all boils Boils Definition
Boils and carbuncles are bacterial infections of hair follicles and surrounding skin that form pustules (small blister-like swellings containing pus) around the follicle. Boils are sometimes called furuncles. down to continuous and candid can·did
1. Free from prejudice; impartial.
2. Characterized by openness and sincerity of expression; unreservedly straightforward: In private, I gave them my candid opinion. communication, which creates trust.
2. Focus on the right stuff. The other big revelation for me was that you don't have to do big stuff, but you do have to do the right stuff. By this I mean that you must be attuned at·tune
tr.v. at·tuned, at·tun·ing, at·tunes
1. To bring into a harmonious or responsive relationship: an industry that is not attuned to market demands.
2. to the states to understand what they truly want. Often the key to a successful national-component relationship is far simpler than you think.
RELATED ARTICLE: IN SEARCH OF SATISFACTION
The Medical Group Management Association provides a variety of services and resources to its 50 state affiliates. As the national organization worked to enhance its relationship with its components, MGMA developed a state affiliate national services and resources evaluation form. State officers are sent the evaluation annually, and their feedback assists national in putting staff and volunteer resources where they will bring the greatest value to the state organizations.
State officers are asked to rate the services and resources provided by MGMA national according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. their level of satisfaction, ranging from very satisfied to very unsatisfied or don't use/don't know. Here are some of the products and services they are asked to evaluate:
* State MGMA leadership and resources manual.
* Complimentary national MGMA membership for one state staff member.
* Opportunity to participate in the national MGMA/state MGMA shared database.
* MGMA government affairs staff as speakers at state conferences.
* Opportunity to be the local partner for national MGMA seminars and annual conference when these events are offered in an affiliate's state.
* Opportunity to purchase state MGMA liability and officers' and directors' insurance through MGMA purchasing program.
* State Web site links from the national MGMA site.
* Leadership report from MGMA's CEO.
* MGMA's table-top display and booth for state conferences.
* Free MGMA membership materials for state conferences.
* Communication to states about MGMA services and products.
In addition, MGMA state officers are asked to answer questions such as these:
1. What resources or services do you value most?
2. What resources or services do you value least?
3. What are the key challenges you see facing your state organization in the future?
RELATED ARTICLE: TAKE ACTION
Putting a plan of action in place was key to the Medical Group Management Association's state relationship-building initiative. MGMA's board of directors approved the following steps:
1. Make more practice management content available to the states.
2. Improve processes for avoiding seminar scheduling conflicts and sharing education calendars among states as well as with national.
3. Share market research information.
4. Build linkages with state staff as well as support the linkages already in place between the section officers and state officers.
5. Continue the planning for the 2005 section conferences, with the understanding that these will be the last section conferences in the current format.
6. Begin work with the sections to develop the new national leadership conference format.
7. Develop guidelines guidelines,
n.pl a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the performance of certain tasks. and a business model for online education delivered in collaboration with the state affiliates. Put in place a pilot course in fiscal year 2005 with full implementation in fiscal year 2006.
8. Conduct the state satisfaction survey annually and compare the results with the baseline (80.6 percent) established last year.
Adrienne A. Bien, CAE, is vice president of the learning and networking center for the Medical Group Management Association, Englewood, Colorado, and chair of ASAE's Component Relations Section Council. Cynthia D'Amour is president of People Power Unlimited, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and vice chair of ASAE's Component Relations Section Council. E-mails: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.