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Three New Ways of Working Together: Perspectives from Mabel’s Labels, Zappos and Morning Star

reinvention-roadmap-find-your-path-1024x1020 TAKEAWAY TUESDAY Take it away! This is the second in a series of posts that will be featured on Fonteva’s blog highlighting important strategies associations can take away from other industries. In today’s sixth-degrees-of-separation world, your members are assessing your association not just in comparison to similar organizations but in relation to the totality of their experiences as consumers. As such, we want to help you stay abreast of key trends and best practices, those takeaways that may benefit your association. A recent post to Huff Post Business declared 2014 the year of workplace of reinvention. According to Gallup, only 13 percent of workers are engaged. Perhaps, it is time for a change, one that engages employees and gives them more autonomy in achieving their workplace objectives. In the post culture consultant Pam Ross goes on to highlight three different models of reinventions to the workplace. The first model is the ROWE or Results-Only Work Environment, which is based on allowing staff members to work wherever, whenever and however they chose as long as they achieve their results. Mabel’s Labels, a producer of labels for household and children’s items, became a ROWE in spring 2013.  Mabel’s co-founder Julie Cole acknowledges that implementing such a model requires “strong leadership and goal setting.” The second model, holacracy, is one Zappos announced to its employees at the end of last year. In holacracies, companies are organized into circles. Staff members belong to several different circles depending upon the kinds of projects they are working on at the time. Rather than being centralized, decision-making is distributed throughout the organization with everyone focused on the company’s core mission and vision. John Bunch, who is leading the holacracy initiative for Zappos, believes the change will enable “employees to act more like entrepreneurs and self-direct their work instead of reporting to a manager who tells them what to do.” The third model is that of a self-managed organization, which tomato processing and packing company Morning Star has been since the 1990s. Essentially the company operates without hierarchies and managers. There is no ultimate authority. The basic premise behind the model is that for companies to achieve greater productivity and engagement, their employees should not employ force against each other and should honor their commitments. At first glance, none of these models may be remotely appealing or even seem possible within the overall organizational structure of your association. Still I think they are well worth noting because each model is built around the idea of having a fully engaged workforce. There could be some element of just one or all three that would make your association’s staff more engaged. As a case in point, we designed Fonteva For Associations to be engaging and highly customizable. Because Fonteva For Associations is built on the Salesforce public cloud, users are able to perform tasks and customize the solution themselves rather than pay their AMS vendor. This empowers staff and removes barriers to user adoption. Fonteva For Associations is completely mobile as well giving staff flexibility to work from anywhere at any time. In addition, it provides a 360 degree data view of the entire organization so that everyone can truly be on the same page. You may not be ready to reinvent your workplace in 2014, but you might want to consider if there are even some small ways to give your staff members more autonomy and flexibility in achieving goals. I know I will be.    
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Maximize Your Meetings

meetingChances are that you have at least one to three meetings on your calendar to attend during the course of the work day. Unfortunately, many of these meetings may not be productive. According to a 2011 survey of information workers (employed American adults whose jobs involve handling or using information) conducted by Clarizen and Harris Interactive, almost four in ten employed American adults believe status meetings are a waste of time. Fifty-nine said preparing for status meetings often takes longer than the meeting themselves, and 57 percent indicated that they multi-task during status meetings. Yet, 62 percent also believed collaborating with colleagues helps them accomplish their work tasks. So what makes internal team meetings ineffective? Based on these survey results, it would seem that many internal meetings are filled with tired, distracted, unengaged staff members. At the same time, whether they are in-person, on the phone, or virtual, most organizations schedule regular meetings. Fonteva may be rather unique, but since we are an agile software development company, our focus is on daily output. Whether it is output around the development and testing of new code that gets released to our customers or completing tasks required to get customers live on our software, we are focused on daily output. As a result, our internal update meetings, called stand ups, happen daily and everyone participates. As we go around the room, each person is responsible for stating what they did over the last 24 hours, their plan for the next 24 hours, and if they have any “blockers” or dependencies on others to complete their work. This approach is highly effective as everyone contributes, meetings take less than 30 minutes and management can quickly determine where the issues are and then take appropriate action. Ray Williams, author of The Leadership Edge and Breaking Bad Habits offers some additional suggestions for making the most of internal meetings:
  • Limit the action items of your meeting to no more than three.
  • Table any discussion that is not relevant to the agenda.
  • Don’t let people who are late to the meeting by more than 15 minutes join.
  • Don’t tolerate meeting participants working on other things during the meeting.
  • End the meeting on the agreed-upon time, even if the agenda is not finished.
Now what happens after the meeting? My biggest pet peeve about meetings is that no one documents action steps and assigns responsibility for them. Most of us would like to attend fewer meetings. Well, the way to make that happen is to maximize the meetings we do have and most importantly, to follow up on action items before the next meeting or perhaps even eliminate the need for scheduling one.
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Go for Your Goals: At Home and At Work

gg63634351Certainly you can set goals any time of year, but for most of us, the end of one 12-month cycle seems like the ideal opportunity to take inventory and identify goals, both professional and personal. I have already set a few that I would like to share with you in spirit of how important it is to set goals and then determine what kinds of resources might be useful in accomplishing them. Goal #1: Move my wife from Georgia to DC area. Relocating from to another state can be a monumental task, but according to an article on, there are a number of mistakes that my wife and I and others can avoid. Among them are thinking you can do it yourself instead of using a pro, not requesting a written estimate from your moving company, and refusing extra coverage for loss and breakage. It seems to me that are a few lessons here for associations as well. As you plan initiatives, these are pitfalls that you want to avoid too. Is it really cheaper to complete a project in-house? Have you been tempted to take vendor at his or word instead of requiring a written contract? Have you considered every risk associated with a project? These are all good questions to ask you set your goals for 2014.
Goal #2: Reduce the amount of physical "stuff" in my life. It’s very easy to start collecting things if you don’t set ongoing goals for evaluating what you must have versus what you want or feel like you have to keep. Organization guru Julie Morgenstern’s comments on the topic of clutter during an interview with REALTOR magazine resonated with me: “Many live or work in a physical mess, yet feel comfortable in this environment. But there’s a difference between being successful and reaching our fullest potential. It's hard to do the latter when you're surrounded by piles. Eliminating clutter gives you room to think.” Most us of could use a little more room to think. Will your association reach its full potential in 2014, or are you holding onto “clutter” that you don’t need? Goal #3: Read more non-fiction. See goal #2. With less clutter, I will likely be more productive and make even better use of my time, which should give me more time to read. It also helps to make a Top Twelve list of the books that you want to read during the year. That’s one book a month. If you share this goal with me, you might even consider joining a book club or online reading group. There’s always so much “real work” to do that you sometimes feel like reading doesn’t fit into your schedule or lifestyle. Well, studies show that it calms us down. As was recently noted in a Huffington Post blog post: Reading can chill you out. Stressed out? Pick up a paperback. Research conducted in 2009 at Mindlab International at the University of Sussex showed that reading was the most effective way to overcome stress Who doesn’t need more stress relief? And you might also be thinking, who needs more goals? Much like reading, I think setting goals calms the mind and helps alleviate stress. Name and claim your goals in 2014. Identify the resources you to need to accomplish them. And go for it!
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Meet Us At Dreamforce ’13 and Learn How To Manage Complex Member and Donor Relationships on Salesforce

dreamforceSalesforce is excited to be presenting the first ever session tailored specifically for associations at the Dreamforce Foundation Zone this year. Learn from three nonprofits that are currently using Salesforce and Fonteva to manage and track complex constituent relationships. For years, managing members, donors, events and product sales has frequently lead to data being trapped in multiple environments, preventing an organization from seeing a true 360-degree view of their constituents. During the session: Managing Complex Member and Donor Relationships on Salesforce you will hear how three of our current customers are now able to solve this issue by using Fonteva For Associations and Salesforce. As a result, they’re able to gain deeper constituent insights, deliver more strategic communication and get a true 360-degree view of constituent engagement. Register Here: Managing Complex Member and Donor Relationships on Salesforce
Date: Wednesday, November 20
Time: 1:30 p.m. – 2:25 p.m. During the session you will:
  1. Learn about the app each of these customers are using to manage their members, donors, events, and more
  2. View a demonstration on how to process and manage transactions associated with multiple revenue streams
  3. Learn how these nonprofits are enabling private social communities for better engagement and collaboration.
Speakers include:
  • Gabriel Rholl, Associate Director of Technology, NHSA (National Head Start Association)
  • Maria Caldwell, Director of Compliant Services, NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy)
  • Paul Davis, Director of Public Policy and Communications, MHAT (Mental Health Association in Tulsa)
  • Phil Patacca, Regional Director, Salesforce
So don't miss this opportunity to meet with us and connect with others who share your cause. If you haven't registered yet, be sure to use the discount registration code NP30013 and save $300! The rate is applicable for full-time, paid staff members at 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations. Check out everything Fonteva has going on at Dreamforce on our Dreamforce Landing Page
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Bring Your Own Cloud to your Association or Non-profit

cloud_dataAssociations and non-profits can benefit from having a sound “Bring Your Own Cloud” strategy in place.  Free and low-cost cloud storage such as Dropbox, Box, and SkyDrive offer associations and non-profits an entry point to the cloud for storing and collaborating on documents.  We've learned a lot about putting a strategy in place for document management--here are a few that we use at Fonteva:

Naming Conventions

Using standard naming conventions for documents is critical for searching in the cloud.  The naming conventions should be clear enough for document authors and others who need to reference documents as needed.


You need to be sure to have a plan around security.  The first question to ask is, “Who’s going to be able to do what?”  Answering this question allows you to set the security permissions you require, especially if you have both internal and external components to your cloud storage. Is your storage used just internally?  Alternatively, will you allow people from outside the organization to access internal folders and documents?

Document Management

Your organization also needs to take into account document storage management.  Here are some important document management considerations:
  • Can you use straight folders or do you need to use tagging?
  • How are these documents going to be used?
  • Are the documents required for collaboration?
  • Do users need to follow documents because you work with remote teams?
  • Or do you just need straight storage?
Your document storage management strategy also needs to account for what happens when users finalize documents—and what to do when they are no longer active and should be archived. Putting these practices in place when you move to cloud storage will prevent your document storage from becoming bloated.  This helps to make it easier to search your documents and assists in managing version control.
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