Prometheus, unbound

At least, ASAE and the Center's Prometheus Leadership program, which sounds incredible from what I've been hearing about it, is going away, and some people are none too happy about it. Ben at Certified Association Executive gives a good accounting of the dust-up that's been going on around this program. I didn't know anything about it until I started hearing that it was ending, but it appears it was a well-loved type of unconference, where whoever comes are the right people to be there, and whatever happens is what's meant to happen. It was a small, intense, intimate, and very effective learning program, from what I'm hearing.

In fact, I hear that some are so upset that they're thinking about doing it on their own, totally separate from ASAE and the Center. I think that's cool. I'm involved in something similar, and it's, well, almost magical in the connections that are made, and the learning that is done on site and continues throughout the year.

I've been e-talking with some folks about this phenomenon of why associations are always pushing "bigger is better" when it comes to their meetings, while they often ignore the power of small, intense programs, even when they can charge a premium for them. If I had a penny for every press release I've gotten touting the record attendance of this or that meeting, I wouldn't be driving a Subaru, let me tell you. I know the basic math: More attendees=more money for the organization. But I can't believe it's all about the money—I honestly do believe that associations care about the educational benefits of what they're offering.

But maybe associations aren't the right people to be taking on these smaller unconferences. As Ben suggests, maybe it should be more of a grassroots effort: "ASAE rids itself of a program that is highly valued by a few, but doesn't deliver an acceptable ROI. The program continues for those that are willing to support it." The problem is, as we all know, not everyone can plan a meeting, and putting it in non-planner hands could be a disaster.

I don't have any answers, but I sure would love to see more of these small unconferences in the meeting planner/hospitality space. I know that these are where I learn best, and I don't think I'm the only one.

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