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Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations Hardcover – September 3, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0880343350 ISBN-10: 0880343354 Edition: 1st

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Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations + Road to Relevance: 5 Strategies for Competitive Associations + The End of Membership as We Know It: Building the Fortune-Flipping, Must-Have Association of the Next Century
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (September 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880343354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880343350
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Harrison Coerver is president of Harrison Coerver & Associates, a management consulting firm that specializes in strategy and planning for trade associations, professional societies, and other tax-exempt membership organizations. In the last 25 years, Harrison has consulted with more than 1,200 associations in strategy, planning, marketing, and management.

Mary Byers, CAE, formerly a senior-level association executive, is a consultant and professional speaker. She helps groups gain clarity and focus through facilitating strategic planning retreats, assisting committees and smaller work groups, and helping association staff and volunteers talk through tough issues.


More About the Author

Mary Byers is a national speaker, author, and consultant who is dedicated to helping people live and work more fully. An award-winning communicator and member of the National Speakers Association, Byers has been speaking professionally since 1988. She currently consults with, and speaks to, a wide variety of associations and corporations, specializing in strategic planning and facilitating tough conversations.


A professional writer for 20 years, Byers is the author of seven books, including Race for Relevance: Five Radical Changes for Associations, which quickly became one of the American Society of Association Executives bestselling books. She has also written for several publications, including Entrepreneur, Association Management, and the Fort Wayne News Sentinel.

Customer Reviews

This is a must read for anyone who is involved in an association or non-profit!
Carole M. Ryan
We found enough in this book to applaud our new direction and plenty more to keep us asking questions and pushing forward.
Betsy A Alles
If you serve on a non profit, association, or fraternal board this is a must read book.
Douglas A. Loesel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Tim Lubinus on March 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
For anyone who's part of a governing board for an organization started a generation or more ago, this is the book for you. The authors give expression to the obvious: organizations which have huge representative boards to please a broad client base with an untenable menu of services, will be passed up by nimble, focused organizations giving high-quality services to a specific membership profile.

The solutions offered in the book include:

--Start with governance: any decision-making board with over 5-7 members sacrifices decision-making effectiveness for an illusion of being "representative." Associations should quickly drop their unwieldy, inefficient, and expensive large governing boards.

--Overhaul committees: committees should be few, focused, and led by staff rather than volunteers who spend massive hours creating recommendations unconnected from those immersed in the day-to-day life of the organization: the staff.

--Empower CEO and enhance staff: The staff should be carefully selected and then fully empowered to move the organization forward based on the vision and guidance of the governing board. They should not be micro-managed by the board.

--Rationalize Member Market: This one recognizes that availability of wide-spread communication today requires specialization. Organizations need to narrow, not broaden, their membership criteria so that they can better serve the members they have.

--Rationalize Programs Services and Activities: Instead of adding a long menu of low-impact services for members, associations should offer a narrow list of "home run" services members can't live without.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By MR in Maine on April 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Race for Relevance is well-written and timely. Even if one isn't part of a formal association, this book will give valuable advice for people on boards of any kind. My family has read it and used its information for a bank board and even our church vestry. It's a wonderful management tool for ANY group of people.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gary Wayne Smith on February 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Hmmm, one star or two? I decided on two since the book DOES contain some suggestions that I think are good. The problem is that the good suggestions are swamped by the not so good-et-make that frightening ones.

My comments should be viewed from the perspective of the context I'm coming from. As a social worker who is a part of a not for profit trade association that's intended to support and assist my profession, this book does not honor some of the most important values of my profession such as inclusion and social justice. For example, when the book recommends that dissenters be identified and "eradicated" from from your board of directors, there's no way I can sign on for that. Further, the book attempts (weakly, in my opinion) to vilify volunteer board members and lay the blame for associations' declining membership and revenues on them. There's no evidence whatsoever to back up these claims. In the hands of the "wrong" kind of executive director, this book could contribute to some very damaging actions by that director that would harm the association and perhaps contribute to its ultimate demise.

Some suggestions from this book that I CAN agree with are associations needing to sharpen their mission, identify their products that members want and will pay for, and becoming much more media and tech savvy.

In the end, I view this book as espousing some pretty ruthless means of transforming boards that, from my personal experience as a board member, lead to serious damage to board and community relations. I'd advise any executive director to be VERY careful in embracing this book's philosophy and by no means attempt to implement it's teachings without full and transparent disclosure and discussion with his/her board members.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dean Van Damme on November 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I found that the book offered a lot of complaints about static organizations. I didn't however find much substance in the ideas. First they offer circumventing the governance document and ignoring the board of directors in a power grab. I didn't find that this was very useful unless the dictators in place currently are looking to avoid an oversight com.
They did offer a couple ideas but for the price and the return on investment.. Save your money.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Janet E. Burch on May 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Not only does this book apply to associations, but I found it particularly helpful as I thought about my Kiwanis club. Service organizations, many founded in the 1920's, are guilty of many of the same things--large boards, unwillingness to change, fearful of technology, etc. R4R will be a reading assignment for my club as we get into a strategic planning mode. I enjoyed also the author's style--straight to the point, good examples. It was an easy read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Betsy A Alles on August 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Once in a while you read something that shakes your world. "Race for Relevance" did just that for us. It's a great read and even better guide to strategic thinking and planning for your organization. The world is changing quickly and those who stay asleep will lose. We found enough in this book to applaud our new direction and plenty more to keep us asking questions and pushing forward. I bought one for our association president and it has prompted many interesting conversations. Excellent read and even better as a prompter to action.
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