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Magical moments at Opening General Session.

Total quality through new thinking truly defined yesterday's Opening General Session of the ASAE 72nd Annual Meeting & Exposition.

* ASAE President Bill Taylor, CAE, and Board Chairman Gene N. Fondren, CAE, hailed it--as the future of association management.

* Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young credited it--with Atlanta being the stage for the 1996 Olympics here as an example of the city's tremendous success in practicing a total quality philosophy.

* Artist Denny Dent created it--on stage in two maniacally rapid flourishes--with larger-than-life images of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and ASAE Board Chairman Gene N. Fondren, CAE.

* Anne L Bryant, CAE, epitomized it--and was awarded ASAE's Key Award for her team leadership of the American Association of University Women's Educational Foundation study on the unequal treatment of girls in American classrooms.

* And Walt Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner told a full house of ASAE members at Fox Theatre how The Walt Disney Company meticulously lives, breathes, and implements a philosophy of total quality.

Mayor Young calls Atlanta "exciting" and "the city of human rights." He credits a "spiritual power" for guiding the city, Martin Luther King, Jr., and human rights movements throughout the world. "If you want to bring about change, you've got to follow the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.," Young said to a thunderous applause from ASAE members.

Following President Taylor's introduction, Artist Denny Dent jumped out on the Fox Theatre stage, replete with white shirt and black pants spackled with a full spectrum of paint colors. "Art is an expression of the heart," Dent shouted to the audience. Art takes shape in many forms and everyone has innate artistic abilities and dreams, he said. "When a dream wants to come out, nothing can stop it," he added.

As rousing songs began to boom out, Dent squared off with the seven-foot black canvas set up on stage, and saying that he had always wanted this honor, began creating a larger-than-life oil painting of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.--with his bare hands. King's image magically took shape as Dent repeatedly attacked the canvas, fingers moving in a blur, a whirlwind performance that could rival Hurricane Andrew.

Mere minutes later, President Taylor presented the painting to Martin Luther King III, as Chairman Fondren initiated a full standing ovation. Thanking ASAE on behalf of himself and his family, an amazed King remarked that he had seen paintings that took five months or more to complete that couldn't compare to Dent's creation.

Following President Taylor's remarks encouraging ASAE members to embrace new thinking in the age of quality and the "age of action," a reinvigorated Dent took the stage again, this time with three brushes in each hand.

"Whatever you do, do it with all your heart," Dent ordered the crowd. With sudden dips into acrylic paints located on the stage floor, and splashes of paint flying about in the air, Dent began applying paint to another black canvas in rapid, staccato-like movements. "You'll have to guess this one too," he said as he moved to his task with lightening like intensity, drawing energy from the audience, and creating a larger-than-life portrait of Chairman Fondren in about the time it takes to boil an egg.

Shaking his head as he took the stage, a disbelieving, seemingly exhausted Fondren asked, "can we go home now?"

"The theme for this meeting could not be more appropriate in today's world," Fondren continued. He described "New Thinking" as "a mind stretch--renewal, revitalization, creativity, innovation, hearing and responding to the voice or our members and customers and consistently meeting or exceeding their needs--employee empowerment, and strong leadership. "In the last few years, we've seen more change and more demand for new thinking and quality than we have ever experienced before," he said. "Associations are doing more with less. They need to know how to respond to their members, their customers. To survive, organizations and their leaders must engage in new thinking. To do that they have to think outside of the nine dots," Fondren said, referring to the puzzle on the meeting program. By confining our solutions to the box, we limit ourselves and our scope of solutions, he added. "As Bill mentioned earlier, the old ways of thinking and doing just don't work any longer," which is what ASAE had in mind in designing the Annual Meeting.

Fondren next introduced 1992 Key Award winner Dr. Anne Bryant, CAE, as well as

the American Association of University Women President Sharon Schuster. Bryant requested Schuster's presence to emphasize the fact that the accomplishment that resulted in her receiving the ASAE Key Award is the product of a team approach by leaders and staff to creating a project and seeing it through to completion.

Remarking how intimidated he felt and how impressed he was by Bryant's accomplishments and ASAE's leadership and membership, Michael Eisner, who followed Bryant, proceeded to provide real-life historic examples of commitment to total quality as well as tips on how Disney embraces the concept.

Movie mogul Sam Goldwyn, Eisner said, was genuinely devoted to quality. Walt Disney was also a perfectionist obsessed with quality, Eisner said. He cited Disney's creation of "Pinocchio." After six months of production involving thousands of hours, Disney decided that the production would need to be redesigned. The decision was a costly one that risked the survival of the company. Created in 1940, Pinocchio has since grossed well over $100 million; Fantasia has grossed more than $130 million worldwide, Eisner added.

"Does quality pay? We think so," Eisner says, referring to Disney creations more than 50 years old, and other more recent ones. Eisner says there are two tests that constitute quality

* The first is the test of time. Can it withstand obsolescence?

* The second test is the test of universal appeal. Can it cross borders?

"If the answer to both these tests is yes, quality has been achieved." Eisner emphasized his points by citing a trip to the Soviet Union before the "fall of the wall." Although Soviet citizens at that time were not allowed to view American films, a Russian delegate presented Eisner with a crude film featuring silhouettes of Mickey Mouse. Another example Eisner gave of implementing total quality involved the film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" Eisner showed ASAE members a scene from the movie to emphasize one of more than a thousand special effects that went into its production (Roger Rabbit the animation, leaves fingerprints on an actual chair that was covered with dust). "We did these special effects with the knowledge that 90 percent of them would go unnoticed, but we didn't know which 90 percent, so we did all of them," he said. Eisner describes with his typical humor why he isn't singularly responsible for The Walt Disney Company's success: "A beaver and a rabbit are looking at Hoover Dam and the beaver says to the rabbit, 'I didn't build it but it was my idea.'"
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Title Annotation:Convention Daily; of the American Society of Association Executives 72nd Annual Meeting and Exposition
Publication:Association Management
Date:Oct 1, 1992
Previous Article:A Texas-style closing session.
Next Article:Creating community.

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