Thursday, January 13, 2011

Another Empty Office in Lawrence

As the GIS approaches, there's been more chatter in some circles about the CEO search at GCSAA. My opinion hasn't changed since I wrote this column a while back. I don't care why they parted ways with Mark Woodward and I don't think many members are losing any sleep about who they'll choose to replace him. Will they announce a successor at the GIS? I'll say it again: I just don't care. 

That said, if it was up to me, I'd at least try to find an incredibly creative and charismatic bomb-thrower from outside the industry. They need someone to lead and establish a new direction, not someone with a lot of preconceived notions about the business or an association managment type who measures every decision based on how the board might react. But they won't do that. Odds are they'll stick with Rhett Evans, the interim CEO, who seems like a nice, competent guy.   

But now there's another big, empty office in Lawrence, Kansas. Mark Bisbing -- a guy I'm honestly not sure I ever met -- has bailed out of GCSAA to head to sunny Florida and work with my old friend Joe O'Brien at The First Tee. As director of corporate sales and business development, Bisbing was theoretically in charge of a big chunk of the revenues for the association (trade show space, magazine ads and sponsorships). In short, he ran sales...and sales haven't been great.

I'm not saying Bisbing wasn't up to the job or that he was a bad guy (seriously, I couldn't even pick him out of a police lineup and I know everyone in this business). All I'm saying is that it definitely wasn't a good time to be in charge of marketing in a big non-profit with major economic and organizational challenges on every front. I sincerely wish him well in his new endeavor...or at least I would if I actually knew him.

Ironically, the corporate relations job opening was announced in GCSAA's crappy "Industry Spotlight" e-newsletter earlier today. Why is it ironic? Under Bisbing's watch, they actually outsourced this whole "Industry Spotlight" thing to a third-party company that uses online news searches to throw together a few stories from around the country, plug them into an electronic template and create a vehicle to sell ads. It is, plain and simple, a money grab that offers little information you couldn't get from a .05-second Google News search. No original content, no effort, no education, no value. By contrast, take a look at what our modest little staff does with our Fast & Firm e-newsletter. (Okay, I admit that was shameless self-promotion. Sue me for being proud of what we do.)

So, there's another job opening in Lawrence. If you really love a good challenge and would enjoy the Sunflower State lifestyle, apply now. Just make sure you come to the interview prepared with a brilliant plan to reinvent the trade show and replace about $7 million in annual revenues that have disappeared as the show and other non-dues income has declined. BTW, to put it in superintendent terms, that task is roughly analagous to taking a 9-hole pitch-and-putt and turning into Augusta National in six months. Good luck!