Fa·cil·i·ta·tion – To facilitate is to make possible, to ease, to assist.

We provide strategic facilitation services to help you articulate a more realistic and exciting future or solve a specific organizational problem or question with client-centric events and processes.

Members of: 

Boston Facilitators Roundtable

What we are up to


Working remotely – lessons learned at Lighthouse

Lighthouse has several employees that work remotely.  This provides maximum work flexibility to our team members.  Embracing teleworking and geographically distributed teams can be powerful for an office. It can allow for employees to establish their own definition of work-life balance, let managers bring together the best possible team for a job, and reduce burnout. At the same time, working away from a traditional office puts pressure on employees to figure out how to be productive, motivated, and happy without the benefit of colleagues and water cooler conversation.  

 Every home-worker will need to figure out their own strategy for success, but if you or a colleague is struggling to find your rhythm consider checking out these resources as a place to start. 

 American Association for the Advancement of ScienceSix tips for happy, productive remote working –https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2018/12/six-tips-happy-productive-remote-working 

 Harvard Business Review, “How to Stay Focused When You’re Working from Home 

https://hbr.org/2017/09/how-to-stay-focused-when-youre-working-from-home 

 Inc.com, “7 Tips for Remote Workers to Make You More Productive and Less Stressed” https://www.inc.com/jason-aten/7-tips-for-remote-workers-to-make-you-more-productive-less-stressed.html 

Innovation is a Process

“Innovation” has become a popular buzz word across private, non-profit, and public organizations. While imaging the many exciting opportunities successful innovation can provide, it is easy for organizations to forget that innovation is a process, not a goal. It is the job of a strong organizational leader (or association manager) to help a group understand this while guiding them to clearly answer the following questions:

  1. Why do you want to innovate?
  2. What exactly do you want to innovate on?
  3. How would you measure the success of your results?

Groups may desire increased process efficiency, better programmatic value for money, or an uptick in membership. They may want to innovate on products, delivery methods, or communication streams. They may care more about the results of quantitative return on investment analyses or qualitative exit surveys. Each of these answers, and countless more, are valid.

No matter what the answers are, if you can lead your organization to carefully consider to answer these questions you will help ensure that resources – time, money, energy, and will – are not spent needlessly on “innovating” for innovation’s sake.

What Makes a Membership Organization Successful?

I was recently asked to speak about the success factors of a successful membership organization. I prepared by reflecting on my own experiences over the last two decades, speaking to other association colleagues and researching the topic. Here are the common attributes of a successful membership organization:

  • Effective communication. Regularly zero-in on what information it is that members need and want and then provide them with that information — a task facilitated by today’s technology. Listen closely to members through surveys, face to face meetings, social media, online forums, committees or other means to understand their issues, needs and concerns.
  • Volunteer-driven, but staff managed. Most boards of membership organizations are comprised of volunteers. This group must focus on the horizon, setting that set the long-term vision and strategy and working with staff to make the hard choices. These volunteers must be supported by competent staff that manages the association day-to-day and serves as the face and voice of the group, providing industry leadership.
  • Clearly articulates return on investment. Good association’s simply run the numbers: For your membership dollars, you will receive this much value, quantified.
  • Successful leadership transition. While volunteer directors come and go, the organization stays on track and accomplishes its work. Successful organizations transcend leadership and management changes by providing a stable governance structure, messaging and direction.
  • Proven value. The value of belonging to an association should not be “because it’s the right thing to do.” Strong associations provide tangible products and services critical to members’ business success — i.e., the value lies with far more than in it “being the right thing to do.”
  • Clear multiyear vision. Essential are a set of long-term goals and strategies supported by an annual work plan and budget — i.e., key documents that ensure the membership, leadership and staff are all ‘on the same page’ regarding where the association is going and how it will get there.

If those are attributes are key to a successful organization, a VERY successful membership organization also does these things:

  • Represents the entire membership and the membership trusts they are being represented. We work with associations that have big, small and really small companies as members. They all have different needs and often those larger ones have the means to influence the agenda and service offering. It is important for leadership to focus on the whole of the organization’s members, ensuring that they all have an equal voice and are receiving services specific to their needs. a voice — i.e., size alone does not dictate the dialogue
  • Leaders of successful organizations put personal agendas aside and focuses on what’s best for whole. Volunteer leadership often brings an agenda, and that’s okay –it drives progress and change. But those changes must be done for the good of the whole, not a few. When I hear an incoming year chair ask, what is my legacy going to be, I worry.
  • Open and transparent (versus closed-door) governance and decision-making. Obvious, yes but this often replaced with small groups behind closed doors making key decisions. Nothing worse than people asking: How did that decision get made, but whom and why? A successful association provides a spot light to members so they can cast it into the organization’s decision making.