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Balancing Act: Daily tasks vs long-term strategy and Foresight

The Cycle of Strategic Foresight" featuring a circular process divided into four quadrants: Prepare: Gather your evidence (signals and drivers), frame your future questions, prepare your mind. Foresight: Develop plausible, compelling, provocative narratives and visions of multiple futures—not predictions. Insight: Generate new ideas and meaningful implications for yourself, your organization, your team, your family, etc. Action: Frame and prioritize possible actions for today. The diagram emphasizes a cyclical process involving continuous preparation, foresight development, insight generation, and actionable prioritization. The image is credited to the Institute for the Future.

Word Count 418 – 3 Minute Read

Juggling day-to-day tasks with long-term strategy and action can be a challenging feat. While it’s essential to address immediate needs and opportunities, getting caught up in the whirlwind of daily operations can sometimes come at the expense of long-term success. Why do day-to-day tasks harm long-term strategy, and how should we strike a balance?

Short-term Goals vs. Long-term Objectives
One of the primary reasons day-to-day tasks can impede long-term strategy is the tendency to prioritize short-term gains over long-term objectives. In the quest to meet immediate needs and deadlines, organizations may lose sight of the bigger picture, making decisions that provide quick wins but fail to align with overarching strategic goals.

Time Constraints vs Strategy and Foresight
The relentless nature of day-to-day tasks often leaves little room for strategic development and foresight-thinking. Teams engrossed in daily operations may struggle to carve out time for reflection, analysis, and long-term planning, resulting in a disconnect between short-term actions and long-term vision.

Reactive Approach vs. Proactive Strategy
The reactive nature of day-to-day tasks can hinder organizations from adopting a proactive stance toward shaping their future. Constantly putting out fires and responding to immediate challenges may prevent teams from taking a strategic, proactive approach to decision-making and innovation.

Maintaining Strategic Focus
Amidst the hustle and bustle of daily activities, it’s easy for organizations to lose sight of their strategic focus and long-term goals. Without a clear sense of direction and purpose and a culture of foresight-thinking, teams may drift aimlessly, leading to inefficiencies, missed opportunities, and strategic misalignment.

Unlocking Innovation and Creativity
Daily tasks can consume resources and energy, leaving little room for innovation and creativity. Long-term strategies and trend analysis demand fresh perspectives, out-of-the-box thinking, and a willingness to explore new ideas—elements that may get sidelined in the face of daily operational demands.

Striking a Balance
To navigate the dance between day-to-day tasks and long-term strategy and Foresight, organizations must prioritize strategicthinking and planning, set clear priorities, delegate effectively, and foster a culture of innovation. Organizations can harness the power of both short-term efficiency and long-term effectiveness by allocating dedicated time for strategic reflection, ensuring alignment between short-term actions and long-term goals, and encouraging creative thinking.

Day-to-day tasks are vital for keeping the wheels turning. It’s crucial not to let them overshadow long-term strategicthinking and objectives. By finding the right balance between the two, organizations can pave the way for sustainable growth, innovation, and success in an ever-evolving modern environment.

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Strategic Talent Development for Associations: Nurturing Excellence

Word Count – 357 – 3 Minute Read

As an association leader, you understand that your people are your most valuable assets. Nurturing talent isn’t just a nice-to-have; I have said it before and I will again, is a strategic imperative. This blog will go deeper into talent development, explore actionable strategies, and discuss how associations can thrive in the ever-evolving landscape.

The Changing Landscape and Continuous Learning

  1. Adapting to the 21st Century: Associations operate in a dynamic environment. The 21st century brings rapid technological advancements, shifting demographics, and evolving member expectations. Talent development must align with these realities.
  2. Cross-Functional Skills: Gone are the days of siloed expertise. Associations need professionals who can wear multiple hats. Cultivating cross-functional skills ensures adaptability and resilience.
  3. Culture of Innovation: Associations thrive when innovation is embedded in their DNA. Talent development fosters a culture where creativity flourishes, and members benefit from cutting-edge solutions.

Implementation Strategy: Insights from Angela Lane and Sergey Gorbatov (material quoted from

Angela Lane and Sergey Gorbatov offer a practical five-step strategy:

  1. Contextualize: Understand your association’s unique environment. Diagnose challenges and identify opportunities. What are the pain points? Where can talent development make the most impact?
  2. Strategize: Generate options without judgment. Brainstorm creative solutions. Consider both short-term and long-term goals. How can talent development align with your association’s mission?
  3. Prioritize: Make strategic choices based on clear criteria. Not all initiatives are equal. Focus on high-impact areas. Allocate resources wisely.
  4. Evangelize: Engage stakeholders. Build awareness of the importance of talent development. Involve board members, staff, and volunteers. Create buy-in.
  5. Realize: Execute your strategic intention. Implement training programs, mentorship, and skill-building initiatives. Measure progress and adjust as needed.

Avoiding Overcomplication

While strategy execution requires effort, simplicity often leads to effectiveness. Keep these principles in mind:

  • Foresight Implications: Anticipate future trends. Talent development isn’t just about today; it’s about preparing for tomorrow.
  • Testing and Visualization: Don’t operate in a vacuum. Test ideas, visualize outcomes, and iterate. Adaptability is key.

Remember, associations thrive when their talent thrives. Invest in your people, and your association will reap the rewards.

Let me know what you think.

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Compensation and the Female Cohort

Word Count – 745 – 5 Minutes Read

Addressing the Gender Compensation Gap in Nonprofits: A Call for Equitable Change

As we enter the season when numerous foundations and research organizations release their compensation studies for the nonprofit and tax-exempt sectors, a familiar and troubling pattern emerges: female CEOs continue to be paid significantly less than their male counterparts. This disparity is not new nor confined to the top executive level; it permeates the entire C-suite and beyond. It is a longstanding issue that demands urgent and comprehensive reform.

You might be wondering why an older white male baby boomer like me is addressing this issue. As a former CEO of various associations, I was fortunate to be well compensated, often more so than my female peers. Recognizing this disparity, I strived to promote wage equity within my organizations. However, achieving meaningful change requires more than individual efforts; it necessitates a collective commitment to reforming compensation structures.

The Persistent Wage Gap

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women working full-time, year-round, are paid only 83.7% of what men are paid. This gap persists despite advancements in education and professional experience. Alarmingly, the wage gap widens as women age and progress in their careers, with older Black and Hispanic women experiencing the most severe pay disparities.

This inequity is not just a statistic; it represents a pervasive issue that affects women’s financial stability, career growth, and overall quality of life. Education and career advancement alone are insufficient to bridge this gap. Systemic barriers and biases must be addressed to ensure that women receive fair compensation for their contributions.

The Role of Directors and Male Executives

Directors and male executives hold significant responsibility in addressing and rectifying this problem. The data is unequivocal, but there often lacks the will to make the necessary changes. Directors too frequently base CEO compensation decisions on their earnings or perceived worth rather than on equitable and market-competitive standards. This mindset perpetuates the disparity and undermines efforts to achieve wage equity.

Directors must detach their personal compensation experiences from their decision-making processes. Instead, they should adopt transparent and equitable compensation frameworks that recognize and reward the value that female executives bring to their organizations. Boards should conduct regular pay equity audits, set clear compensation benchmarks, and commit to closing the gender pay gap within a defined timeframe. In addition, boards should provide their only employee, the executives, with resources to address the issue with other members of the C-suite and beyond.

A Call to Action

Addressing the gender compensation gap requires a multifaceted approach. Here are some steps that can drive meaningful change:

  1. Transparency and Accountability: Organizations should commit to transparency in their compensation practices, including publicly sharing salary ranges and conducting regular pay equity audits to identify and address disparities.
  2. Bias Training: Implementing bias training for directors and executives can help raise awareness of unconscious biases that influence compensation decisions. This training should be part of a broader effort to foster an inclusive and equitable workplace culture.
  3. Mentorship and Sponsorship: Establishing mentorship and sponsorship programs for women can help them navigate career advancement and negotiate for fair compensation. Such programs should be supported by senior leaders who are committed to equity.
  4. Policy Advocacy: Organizations can advocate for policies that support pay equity, such as legislation that promotes transparency in pay and prohibits discrimination based on gender.
  5. Benchmarking and Next Practices: Utilizing industry benchmarks and adopting practices from organizations that have successfully addressed pay equity can provide a roadmap for others to follow.
  6. ACT: Do not wait around for another organization to correct this error. Take specific acts to increase female CEO wages, immediately take action to correct the 28% disparity or correct the issue over a particular number of years, 2 or 3.
  7. Female Executives Need to Ask: Negotiation is appropriate, and female executives should not be inhibited from expecting substantial compensation. Asking is not easy and may be seen as a risk. Consider an outside consult to negotiate on your behalf.

Move On

The gender compensation gap is a profoundly entrenched issue that requires urgent and sustained action. As a former CEO, I understand the challenges of implementing wage equity, but I also know it is necessary and possible. By committing to transparency, accountability, and systemic change, we can ensure that female executives receive the fair and equitable compensation they deserve. The time for change is now, and it starts with each of us taking a stand and demanding reform.

Let me know what you think.

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Building Stronger Teams: Unleashing the Power of TEAM

Word count: 298 – 2 Minute Read

Our previous discussion highlighted the importance of investing in professional development within associations. Today, let’s delve into another crucial aspect: team development. After all, Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM).

Identifying and leveraging the diverse personalities within a team is vital to unlocking its full potential. Here are some popular tools for understanding personality types:

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
  • Enneagram
  • DISC Assessment
  • CliftonStrengths
  • Maxwell Leadership Game

While these are just a few examples, utilizing them under the guidance of skilled facilitators or certified trainers is vital.

Now, let’s explore some general principles for enhancing TEAM capacity:

  1. Clarify Purpose: Define goals for team-building activities, such as improving communication and collaboration.
  2. Select Appropriate Activities: Choose activities that align with your team’s dynamics, considering size, time availability, and trust levels.
  3. Provide Context: Help team members understand the significance of self-awareness and appreciating different personality types.
  4. Foster Discussion: Encourage open dialogue during and after activities, allowing team members to share insights and experiences.
  5. Take Action: Implement strategies based on insights gained by applying them in daily interactions.
  6. Respect Confidentiality: Ensure privacy and emphasize that personality types are tools for understanding, not judgment.
  7. Promote Inclusivity: Value the strengths of all personality types and foster an environment of appreciation for diversity.
  8. Monitor Progress: Regularly evaluate the impact of team-building activities and adjust as necessary.
  9. Have Fun: Keep activities engaging and enjoyable, utilizing various interactive methods to maintain high energy.
  10. Encourage Growth: Support ongoing personal and professional development beyond formal activities.

Remember, the acronym TEAM embodies the essence of collaboration and collective achievement. By embracing the uniqueness of each team member, we can foster an environment where everyone and the organization thrive.

Together Everyone Achieves More!

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Board Governance – The Association Achilles Heel

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Improving governance is complex for executives because it brings a real personal risk. The role of association governance requires a radical overhaul. We must radically adapt our governance structure and director know-how to meet the challenges of an environment fundamentally being altered by new economics, social change, internal and external political discourse, and advanced technology.

In almost all cases, with the possible exception of the foundation community, directors are elected or appointed from within membership categories in the industry or discipline where the association conducts its work. Far too often, serving on a board results from a reward system built on one’s performance within the association. A member serves on committees, volunteers at events, achieves appointment or election at a local or regional level and is rewarded by becoming a national or international board director. Usually, these individuals are highly competent in their field or discipline. The problem, however, is that serving as a director requires knowledge outside of the association’s discipline or industry-specific arena.

We could discuss how this historically has become the norm. Still, without assessing what we have learned from this history, we can say that it is a failure in the new frontier the Association community faces. Instead, consider a few fundamental changes that will dramatically improve board governance in the association community.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Outside directors, not necessarily from within the membership, are necessary to improve board governance. We must find experts in finance, technology, marketing and communications, and global awareness to serve on the boards.
  • Paying board members: it is time to consider providing board members with compensation for their timeas directors.
  • Director education: funds must be allocated for ongoing director education. The director’s traditional fiduciary responsibilities should include foresight, strategic thinking, communication, teamwork, and organizational knowledge. Investments in directors understand their full responsibilities outside of short onboarding and a legal summary of the traditional fiduciary duties.
  • Revamping the Executive Committee:sometimes, because of size and other times based on a need for immediacy, executive committees have become substitute boards. Modern technology provides ample opportunity for the board to convene promptly. An officer collaborative, designed to develop director competencies, is a potential starting point.
  • Oversight, not management: boards of directors must fully understand the difference between institutional oversight and the day-to-day management of operations. While this is a long-standing issue, it has not received the severe examination and face-to-face collaboration that empowers the CEO to carry out the association’s overall direction.

The above suggestions are outlined and not all-inclusive. A deeper dialogue is essential to protecting the value the Association community brings to society that poor governance diminishes. The argument is not that directors lack intelligence;they do not have the tools and skills to carry out their vital functions.

Let me know what you think.

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Personal Development and Productivity

Word Count 347 – 2-minute read.

Personal development begins with a mindset of lifelong learning. There’s always room for growth, whether it’s acquiring new skills, expanding our knowledge base, or honing our leadership capabilities. Association professionalscan access a wealth of resources, from industry conferences and workshops to online courses and professional certifications. By actively seeking learning opportunities and staying curious, we can stay ahead of the curve and bring fresh perspectives to our organizations.

Organizations also have a responsibility that needs to be centered on the value the organization obtains from helping its staff, board, and volunteers be on a continuous learning curve. Some organizations fail to encourage staff and board growth or consciously decide not to fund professional development experiences that upgrade the talent they already have invested in for the length of the employee’s tenure or to help directors gain the necessary knowledge that will make them better directors.

This blog is written to push associations to invest in the lifelong learning that staff, volunteers, and directors all need in the new environment of the 21st century. Not only is there the power of personal growth, but lifelong learning is an organizational path to productivity and strategic thinking.

Why make this investment? Among the benefits of professional development, consider the following:

  • Understand the importance of goal-setting
  • Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals
  • Tips for tracking progress and adjusting goals as needed
  • Embrace lifelong learning.
  • Cultivating Sef-reflection
  • Building a Culture of Collaboration
  • Explore various learning resources (books, courses, podcasts, etc.).
  • Develop a growth mindset
  • Techniques for enhancing self-awareness.
  • Identifying strengths and areas for improvement
  • Embracing Adaptability

Personal development and productivity are individual pursuits and collective endeavors that benefit the entire association community. By investing in our growth, setting meaningful goals, cultivating self-awareness, generating collaboration, and embracing adaptability, we can unleash our full potential and drive positive change within our organizations, disciplines, and industries.Let’s continue to nurture a culture of continuous learning, innovation, and excellence.

Professional development is not just a cost but a necessary investment in foresight and strategic thinking.

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The Vital Role of Associations in Addressing America’s Major Problems

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While corporations often dominate headlines, associations quietly contribute to public discourse and problem-solving. There is no good reason why the Association Community should be so quiet. Associations can elevate the conversation and demonstrate value as we experience significant societal challenges.

According to the Pew Research Center (study September 2019), the significant problems facing the country are:

  • Affordability of Health Care,
  • Drug Addiction,
  • College Affordability,
  • Federal Budget Deficit,
  • Climate change,
  • Economic Inequity,
  • Racism,
  • Illegal Immigration,
  • Terrorism,
  • Sexism, and
  • Job Opportunities.

Pew continues by discussing age differences in viewing issues, the political or ideological divide, and race and ethnicity perspectives. Over the years, the problems have rearranged themselves, but the list remains remarkably consistent.

Numerous associations tackle complex issues, providing distinct viewpoints and practical solutions. These associations act as central hubs where experts, practitioners, and engaged citizens come together. They play an essential role in advancing society, fostering meaningful discussions, and promoting effective solutions through active engagement, advocacy, and collaboration.

Despite their pivotal role, associations often operate in the background. Why?

The Association Challenge

  1. Risk Aversion: Associations tend to err on caution, fearing controversy or backlash. However, calculated risks can pave the way for meaningful change.
  2. Media Visibility: Mainstream media often overlooks association efforts, favoring corporate and political narratives. This lack of visibility perpetuates associations’ invisibility.

Strategies for Elevating the Discussion

  1. Advocacy and Expertise: Associations must actively champion evidence-based policies, leveraging their specialized knowledge to influence decision-makers and public opinion.
  2. Collaboration and Strategic Alliances: Forming strategic partnerships with businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies amplifies the impact of collective efforts. Collaborating with corporations on shared challenges aligns with corporate social responsibility initiatives and association goals.
  3. Media Engagement: Associations should proactively engage with the media, disseminating research findings, success stories, and expert insights to raise their profile. Do not merely send a news release. Make personal one-on-one media relationships. We live in an age of digital and electronic media norms. Work it!
  4. Public Education: Hosting workshops, webinars, and public forums helps educate citizens about critical issues, fostering engagement with diverse audiences.
  5. Innovation and Risk-Taking: Embracing and piloting new approaches showcases associations’ commitment to progress.
  6. Measuring Impact: Transparently reporting social impact metrics beyond financial indicators demonstrates associations’ contributions to positive change.
  7. Joint Advocacy Campaigns: Collaborative advocacy efforts amplify voices and increase the likelihood of policy impact, driving meaningful change on a larger scale.

Associations cannot permit their risk aversion and old-style traditions to avoid many controversies in our disruptive times. If they fail to step up to the issues in the public sphere, they will look back years later to see their relevance greatly diminished.

Let me know what you think.

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Curiosity: The Fuel of Innovation and Strategy

Word count – 429 / 2 Minute read

In personal growth and success, Curiosity is a powerful force that drives action and fuels strategic thinking. It is where ideas collide, strategies evolve, foresight takes place, and markets shift. Curiosity exists and propels a potent force that moves organizations forward.

” Curiosity, we all know, is the spark that can lead to breakthrough innovation. And it turns out that it helps produce more than new ideas. Recent research by Francesca Gino at Harvard Business School points to several practical benefits.” (HBR-Sep./Oct 18)

The Curious Mind: A Catalyst for Breakthroughs

  • 1. Beyond New Ideas

Curiosity extends beyond mere novelty. Being Curious is not confined to pursuing fresh concepts or unexplored territories. Instead, it fuels the relentless quest for understanding. Curious minds delve deeper, asking not just “what” but also “why.” They dissect problems, unravel complexities, and seek the underlying patterns that others might overlook.

  • 2. Breaking Stereotypes and Bias

In decision-making, Curiosity acts as a shield against stereotypes and confirmation bias. When we approach problems with an open mind, Curiosity compels us to question assumptions. It nudges us from preconceived notions and encourages us to explore alternative viewpoints. In doing so, it fosters better judgment and more informed choices.

  • 3. Employee, Board, Volunteer Engagement and Collaboration

Associations thrive when Employees, Boards, and Volunteers are engaged and collaborative. Curiosity plays a pivotal role here. It encourages cross-functional exploration, inviting individuals from different stakeholder groups to share insights and learn from one another. Curious stakeholders seek out diverse perspectives, sparking creativity and fostering a culture of collaboration.

  • 4. Resilience in Uncertainty

Today, the organizational environment is uncertain—market shifts, technological disruptions, and unforeseen challenges. Curiosity equips organizations with resilience. When faced with ambiguity, curious leaders and teams don’t retreat; they lean in. They ask, “What if?” and “How might we?” Curiosity fuels creative problem-solving, enabling organizations to adapt and thrive.

Cultivating Curiosity is another modern-day strategic imperative that receives more babble than organizational work. When we encourage Exploration, Question the Status Quo, and Learn from Failure, we create a better strategic lens, thus positioning their organizations to thrive in uncertainty.

Curiosity is not a fleeting emotion; it’s a deliberate choice. Let Curiosity be the Association compass as organizations navigate the ever-evolving 21st-century landscape. Within its inquisitive folds lie the seeds of innovation, the threads of strategy, and the promise of a brighter future.

Ignatius, A. (2018). Cultivate Curiosity. Harvard Business Review.
Why Cultivating Curiosity & Imagination Benefits Your Business.
Cultivating Curiosity Is What Drives Innovation.
Cultivating A Culture of Curiosity to Drive More Innovation.

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Maintaining Dominance: How Associations Can Deliver High-Quality Expertise in the Age of Social Media and AI

Word count 615 – 3 Minute Read

In an era where information spreads like wildfire across social media platforms and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms shape our content consumption, associations face a critical challenge: maintaining their position as trusted sources of factual expertise.

The Changing Landscape

Associations have long been stalwarts of factual content, serving their members and the public with accurate, reliable information. However, several factors have disrupted this landscape:

  1. Social Media Influence: Social media platforms amplify both accurate and misleading information. The speed at which content circulates challenges associations’ ability to control narratives.
  2. AI and Personalization: AI algorithms curate content for users, often based on their preferences. While this personalization enhances user experience, it can reinforce biases and filter bubbles.
  3. For-Profit Competition: Commercial entities recognize the value of expertise-driven content. They now vie for attention in the same space as associations.

10 Strategies for Associations to Thrive

To maintain dominance and uphold their role as trusted knowledge hubs, associations should adopt the following strategies:

1. Embrace Digital Transformation

  • Online Repositories: Associations should create comprehensive digital repositories. These platforms house whitepapers, research articles, and industry reports accessible to members and the public.
  • Webinars and Podcasts: Leverage webinars and podcasts to disseminate expertise. Engage experts, practitioners, and thought leaders to share insights.
  • Harness Digital Tools: In this manner, associations can deliver tailored, engaging content to their members and the public.

2. Fact-checking and Verification

  • Rigor and Accuracy: Prioritize fact-checking and verification. Collaborate with experts to validate content. Associations must be unwavering in their commitment to accuracy.
  • Challenge inaccurate data: While internally maintaining rigorous research and accuracy, associations must be willing to challenge inaccurate data in various media.

3. Transparency and Accountability

  • Source Attribution: Communicate sources and methodologies. Regularly audit content to ensure alignment with the latest research.

4. Educate Members and the Public

  • Critical Thinking Resources: Empower consumers with critical thinking skills. Provide resources on evaluating information, identifying biases, and discerning credible sources.

5. Collaborate with AI and Data Scientists

  • AI as a Potential Ally: AI is not going away. Rather than fearing AI, collaborate with data scientists. Help them end bias and ethical issues. It is unlikely that people will stop using AI tools for content discovery, personalized recommendations, and to analyze trends. Engaging with AI developers may be the best way to make this tool more responsible. Caution, yes. Head in the sand, NO!

6. Engage Diverse Audiences

  • Cultural Context: Understand diverse audiences’ needs. Tailor content to resonate with different communities.

7. Promote Ethical Content Creation

  • Substance Over Sensationalism: Avoid clickbait and sensational headlines. Prioritize substance and accuracy. This will be no easy task in a bumper sticker, headline-driven world.

8. Advocate for Industry Standards

  • Setting the Bar: Associations should lead by example. Advocate for best practices in content creation, citation, and attribution.
  • Prioritize Education: Associations should prioritize education and advocacy efforts. Education involves disseminating information and helping stakeholders understand its significance and implications. Associations can position themselves as trusted leaders and influencers by advocating for their respective disciplines or industries.

9. Collaborate Across Disciplines

  • Breaking Silos: Partner with other associations, academia, willing for-profit competitors, and research institutions. Cross-disciplinary collaboration enriches content.

10. Stay Agile and Adaptive

  • Evolving Strategies: Regularly assess content delivery methods. Adapt to emerging technologies and changing user behaviors.

In today’s landscape, Associations will maintain dominance in providing high-quality context by embracing innovation, engaging in collaboration, and prioritizing member engagement while staying true to their core values and mission. By navigating the new landscape with agility and foresight, associations can continue to serve as authoritative voices in their respective fields, driving positive change and impacting the world around them.

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Navigating the Transition: From Change to Friction to Growth

Word Count 617 – 2-minute read

Welcome, association executives, to our blog, where we delve into the intricate journey of transitioning from change to friction to growth. Our blog series is devoted to the fast-paced and ever-evolving landscape, where organizations face constant challenges and opportunities that necessitate adaptation and innovation. In today’s dynamic business environment, change isn’t an occasional visitor; it’s a permanent resident. Organizations must embrace it as part of their DNA. As leaders within associations, it’s imperative to understand the dynamics of change, the friction points that emerge, and how to leverage them toward sustainable growth.

Understanding Change: Change is inevitable. Organizations must be agile and responsive, whether driven by external factors such as technological advancements, market shifts, globalization, an environment that necessitates continuous learning, or internal initiatives. As association executives, embracing change means fostering a culture of flexibility and openness to new ideas. It involves effective communication, proactive foresight planning, and empowering stakeholders to navigate transitions smoothly. By embracing change as a catalyst for improvement rather than a disruption, associations can position themselves for long-term success.

Navigating Friction: Understand that humans react to change in diverse ways. When we fail to understand, uncertainty and fear often fuel resistance. Acknowledge this and develop strategies to address it. Despite our best efforts, friction inevitably arises during periods of change. Friction can manifest as stakeholder resistance, internal conflicts, or unforeseen challenges. However, it’s essential to recognize that friction isn’t inherently harmful. It often signifies areas ripe for improvement and innovation. Our role is to constructively identify and address friction points with the staff and the board. To do this, we must be involved in active listening, collaboration, and a willingness to confront complex issues head-on. Associations can harness their energy to drive positive change by reframing friction as an opportunity for growth.

Embracing Growth: Ultimately, the goal of navigating change and friction is to achieve sustainable growth. Growth isn’t just about increasing membership numbers or revenue; it’s about creating value and purpose for stakeholders and advancing the association’s mission. As leaders, we must foster a growth mindset within our organizations that prioritizes continuous learning, experimentation, and adaptation. Bold vision, strategic thinking, foresight, and a willingness to challenge the status quo are the hallmarks of this mindset. Associations can thrive in an ever-changing landscape by embracing growth as a journey rather than a destination.

Critical Strategies for Success:

  1. Communication and Transparency: Keep stakeholders informed and engaged throughout the change process. Encourage feedback. It’s the oil that reduces friction.
  2. Help transform the Board Agenda: The old report after report should be limited, and foresight discussion should be at the top of the agenda.
  3. Adaptability and Flexibility: Embrace agility and be prepared to act in response to evolving circumstances. Inspire, communicate, and create a safe space for dialogue.
  4. Empowerment and Collaboration: Foster a culture of inclusivity where all voices are heard and ideas are valued.
  5. Resilience and Persistence: Anticipate challenges and setbacks but remain steadfast in your commitment to growth.
  6. Celebrating Milestones: Recognize and celebrate achievements along the journey, no matter how small.

Transitioning from change to friction to growth is a complex yet rewarding journey for association executives. By embracing change as an opportunity, navigating friction constructively, and fostering a culture of growth, associations can position themselves for long-term success and impact. As we navigate the challenges and opportunities ahead, let’s remain steadfast in our commitment to driving positive change and advancing the collective interests of our organizations and stakeholders.

Stay tuned for more insights and strategies to empower association executives on their journey toward growth and excellence. Together, we can navigate the transitions ahead and emerge stronger.