Association Value & Vision not Command & Control.


Working for, consulting to and volunteering in Associations is especially rewarding when you see your peers have lightbulb moments that you know will be a defining point in their involvement. Often these come after long periods of stagnation, frustration and mind-numbing repetition. It is how you sustain your vision for creating value during these periods that is a significant measure of success as an association executive.

Right now, and on a number of fronts, I am engaged in deep and meaningful debates about how best to create value for association stakeholders. On one front it is about how the Association should segment its “member” audience to create categories and fee schedules. On the other it is more deeply rooted in a Board seeking to break the shackles of its command and control style to freely engage its industry. On both fronts I am finding my involvement to be both motivating and frustrating at the same time.

There is no value in trying to explain to a “member” what they get for their money. If you are having that conversation I feel you have done a bad job engaging them in the vision for the industry. your vision for the outcomes that the association’s work will bring; and, how their vision for a vibrant, dynamic (and mostly) profitable environment can come by supporting the industry association each year.

So I am loving one of the current debates where we continue thrash out my view there is no value in a large range of membership categories and price points if the value we bring to all is exactly the same. A simple membership structure with a simple value proposition and lets get on with the job on behalf of the whole industry – whether they are members or not.

On the other hand I am deeply concerned at the discussions I am involved in centred limiting access to “internal” debate about the strategic direction of an association. This seems a dilemma when one of the chief complaints is that the membership has not grown in 10 years. Well of course not because we dont want people who are not members talking to us!  All I suggested was that we use some online platforms to enhance engagement in a future directions debate and almost instantly we got into discussions about the “need” to control who engaged.

Again I am equal parts motivated and frustrated at the thought however in this case there is some is some low hanging fruit here to be picked which will yield quite the bumper season for this association.

Let’s get pickin’.


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