Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Keeping it Real for Associations
Question? Why do you believe “who” you believe when it comes to credible information, and blog postings on growing your association? As a CEO who meets the challenges everyday in membership recruitment, engagement, meeting budgets, exciting volunteers, and driving a board to make change, I read a lot that comes through my computer via Twitter. Some will work in reality. Lots are theoretical ideas, that are driven by a series of assumptions due to changing dynamics of demography and technology. The truth is that many of the ideas being circulated give no thought as to the vision and leverage of an organizational structure like associations.
Do you enjoy them because they are your friends, or what they say sounds profound and they are good writers, or because you can actually implement what they are saying? I’ll give you an example. At the 2011 ASAE Great Ideas conference, as the lead keynote was presenting, people were tweeting these incredible phrases he was stating. A couple of us at my table, who are run associations, began to see that he did not understand how associations are run. His corporate examples of Apple, Toyota, and Zappos, weren’t models that were relevant to growing an association, and his ideas were off base. Yet people continued to tweet his profound statements that don’t work in, or are not relevant to, an association or non-profit business model.
Let’s face it…1,000 companies/individuals together are more powerful than one of them. I’ll even go further to say, that 1,000 companies/individuals that are organized through an association are more powerful than 1,000 companies/individuals who are joined together by social media.
The reason…SOMEONE HAS TO DO THE WORK AND EXECUTE SOMETHING MORE THAN JUST POSTS AND SHOUT OUTS.
I will restate what I stated in my last blog post…The association model is NOT dead, but is as strong as it has ever been! What is dead, is the age-old thinking by baby boomer CEO’s, who are in charge of associations. They are running a great business model right into the ground, and think their problem is because all their baby boomer members are retiring soon.
Those who see the future as doom and gloom because baby boomer members are retiring, have they not seen that the Gen Y generation is 40% larger than those boomers? That spells OPPORTUNITY! Business 101 folks: The greatest opportunity lies when a shrinking marketplace is replaced by a larger, growing, and more intelligent marketplace.
With that said, I want to give all association professionals some advice as you seek out guidance from what you read in the blogosphere. Ask yourself a couple of questions before you BELIEVE and ACT:
1) Have they ever sat in the position as an association leader?
2) Have they been successful in executing what they are claiming?
3) Has anyone in the association sphere executed what they are saying?
4) Are there measurable results from any association to back up their theories and ideas?
Think about it. If you are shooting a score of 100 in golf and you want to get down to mid 80's, you don’t ask someone who doesn’t play golf for advice. You certainly don’t ask someone who is shooting 95. You ask someone who is consistently shooting in the low 80's, or a professional in the game who can provide just one or two tips that are executable immediately, allowing you to see short term results for longer term game change.
I love reading the blogs, love new thinking, and love new ideas. However, the thinking and new ideas have to be something that can actually be implemented and work successfully. Just trying to keep it real for the association community.