About 3 years ago I purchased a DVD based exercise program called p90x.  It was the first infomercial product I had ever purchased (with some trepidation I might add).  Since then I have lost about 25 pounds and gotten in the best shape of my life.  I have since graduated to p90x2 and continue to make gains.
There are a number of p90x concepts that can be applied to help an association get in shape as well:

  1. Do Something Different.  Before I started p90x I had been lifting weights and doing cardio on a treadmill for 25+ years and had plateaued long ago.  I built a nice gym in basement with lots of weights, benches, machines and racks.  p90x uses only your body weight, a set of dumbbells and a pull-up bar.  It really was a leap of faith on my part that p90x could actually do better than all of the traditional equipment.  After about a year I realized I was not going back and sold all of the traditional equipment.  It reminded me of NimbleUser’s move to the cloud with Google Apps and Salesforce 5 years ago; different but much better.

    Call to Action:  Challenge your old beliefs and consider new technologies such as Cloud Computing and Mobile Apps.  Dismount your dead horse.

  2. Use Measurements / Metrics.   Tony Horton, the instructor on p90x, is pretty adamant about recording the results of each exercise.  At first I did not do this but once I started doing it I noticed that I made consistent gains – I always wanted to focus on doing better than I did in the previous workout.  What do you record in your organization? Event attendance, issue counts, financials, member satisfaction surveys, etc?  Is your staff aware of the metrics?  If they are I’ll bet that you organization will make more consistent progress and gains.

    Call to Action: Determine what matters to your organization and track and share those metrics to motivate staff members

  3. Be Upfront and Honest.   One thing that struck me about the p90x infomercial is that they never said it would be easy (in fact they said it would be hard).  But they did say that the results would be noticeable in 90 days and would be significant.  

    This was refreshing from the typical blather of “7 minute abs” and such.  At NimbleUser we implement some pretty complex technology and when we are done the results are very noticeable (a fantastic new website for example).  We make it a point to be upfront that the staff will have to work hard with us to make the project a success.  

    Call to Action: Be open and transparent.  If the end result is going to be great people will buy into the effort – there is no need to sugarcoat the necessary effort.
     

  4. Make it Social.  Beachbody, the developers of p90x built a social network with message boards, chat rooms and photo galleries.  When starting a workout as challenging as p90x this online peer support was critical to keeping me going and answering questions that I had.  We are in the process of launching a support community for Nimble AMS for this very reason – your most engaged members / customers will be the most successful.

    Call to Action:  Associations are for people and people are social.  What is your organization doing to enhance that outside of conferences?  Start with the basics like Facebook and Twitter and consider what benefits a private social network may have.  Don’t forget the staff either - Chatter or Yammer are free and can really make a huge difference.

Oh – one more bonus concept:  Abide by Tony Horton’s mantra “Do your best and forget the rest“!