Question Authority, Even Your Own

How can a CEO misunderstand what her board is saying, and nearly miss one of the most celebrated programs the association has ever implemented? How can a strong strategic planning process turn a flailing association around?  How can an association rely on its members and stakeholders for its existence, but not understand why it receives this support? How can someone outside the executive suite save a major corporation hundreds of thousands of dollars, just by asking WHY?

Combining the Consultant and Chief Executive Officer perspectives, this session will explore:

  • How asking good questions – and dealing honestly with the answers – are at the heart of resilient organizations
  • How understanding why things are the way they are is crucial to your success, no matter where you are in the association lifecycle or hierarchy
  • How accountability between all elements of the organization can be enabled by a commitment to intelligent measurement
  • How to tackle the perplexing and persistent problem: that most association strategic plans – if they exist at all – are neither truly strategic nor good plans
  • How to decide when to stick with you plans, and when it’s time to go back to the drawing board

Developing a strategic, inquiring mindset is imperative to plan effectively and be a nimble association. Learn how to ‘spread the joy’ throughout the organization to key decision makers, to increase accountability and ownership for plans and their outcomes.

Participant Takeaways:

  • Tips for shifting the strategic plan from a bureaucratic exercise to a living document
  • Ideas for improving shared accountability within their association, including strategic measurement
  • Assessment of situations where questioning is especially important – when to dig in, and when to back off
  • Encouragement to think critically about what they and their organization take for granted, and tips on how to do it

Join us at the Engaging Associations Forum this summer for this special Executive/Leadership session!

About the presenters:

Christine Nielsen has been leading the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science as CEO since 2010.  CSMLS is the national certifying body for medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory assistants, and the national professional society for Canada’s medical laboratory professionals.  CSMLS has been serving its members for 81 years.  She has served on the Government of Canada’s expert panel, exploring challenges in the labour market for newcomers to Canada.  She served six years as Chair of the Canadian Network of Agencies for Regulation (CNAR) and has served her Alumni Board since 1998.

Meredith Low is a strategist who helps associations create effective and evidence-driven plans for success. Her experience includes the not-for-profit sector, strategy consulting to Fortune 500 companies, and in-house strategic planning and strategy development at one of Canada’s largest banks. Meredith has presented at CSAE and PCMA conferences and has been published in Association magazine and elsewhere. She can be found at and on twitter @LowMeredith.

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