Guest post by Jamie Notter, WorkXO

I have been saying for years that associations are, essentially, self-centered. To some extent this makes sense. Associations were often created because people or organizations within an industry or profession needed to come together to get things done. Dispersed, they weren't as powerful, but by coming together to create the association, they got more power. They started paying dues, electing a Board–the focus was always form the outside into the center, the association.
But over time, I feel like associations took that inward-focused attention too seriously. Like they were somehow “owed” that attention. Like what makes sense for the association is OBVIOUSLY what makes sense for the industry or the world at large.
That’s not always true, folks. Sometimes the association needs to shift. Just look at this article about recent defections from a powerful grocery trade association. They basically missed the boat on important trends, and their biggest members are now leaving. Part of the problem here is that with the decades of focus internally on the association and its traditions, we have let our “innovation muscles” atrophy. We’re just not good at it. We don’t know how to run experiments. We don’t know how to beta test. At least not at the levels we need to in order to ensure that we are keeping up with the changes that are happening in today’s environment. The result is we end up relying on our “best practices” while the rest of the world moves in a different direction.
So take a look at your association, and particularly your culture. Your culture determines what’s valued internally, and that drives behavior. Unless you can create a culture that fosters innovation, you run the risk of becoming irrelevant.
Want more? Next Tuesday, December 5, ReviewMyAMS is hosting a webinar, Fostering a Culture of Innovation for Your Association, with this author, Jamie Notter of WorkXO Solutions and Dan Stark of NimbleUser/Community Brands. Register Here
About Jamie Notter
Accomplished speaker, author, and consultant—with deep expertise in workplace culture, generations, and growth. Jamie helps leaders unleash the human potential inside their organizations, by turning their workplace culture into a tangible business tool that drives growth. Learn more at