Guest post by Elizabeth Engel, MA, CAE, Chief Strategist, Spark Consulting
The main question I’ve gotten since releasing Blockchain for Associations: Separating the Hype from the Promise in April (well, other than specific questions about how the technology works, SOME of which I can answer) is: What do we do now?
Association executives want to know how to get ready
Step one is to pay attention to what’s happening in the industry or profession your association serves. An excellent way to do this is to sign up for MIT’s weekly blockchain-focused Chain Letter e-newsletter (https://forms.technologyreview.com/chain-letter/). There are many industry-specific blockchain applications currently being piloted (i.e., Trade Lens, Food Trust, etc.). If there’s one in your industry, and your association isn’t at the table as part of the group that’s setting up the ground rules, that’s a problem.
Step two is to educate your board of directors and other key decision makers. As my co-author Shelly Alcorn points out: “the blockchain-related changes that come to your particular profession or industry are likely to happen not at all and then all at once—the networked nature of the platform practically requires that—and your association will need to be nimble to respond well and in a way that is of service to your members.” (Blockchain for Associations: Separating the Hype from the Promise, pg. 28).
Step three is to find someone on your staff who is interested in learning more about blockchain and free up some of her time to learn and experiment. Google abandoned it’s “20% time” thing six years ago (https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/08/20-time-perk-google-no-more/312063/), but it remains true that if you want innovation, you have to create space for it.
Despite our fears, the emergence of the internet didn’t destroy associations – but it did dramatically change what we do and how we serve our members, and our industries and professions. The emergence of social media didn’t destroy associations – but it did dramatically change what we do and how we serve our members, and our industries and professions. Blockchain will likely have a similar impact, but only if we successfully position ourselves now as a neutral third party that can be trusted with helping to construct the blockchain networks that will soon drive business for our members and other audiences.
If you missed the October 3rd, 2019 webinar The Perils and Promises of Blockchain for Association Members and Leaders co-hosted by Spark Consulting, Alcorn Associates & ReviewMyAMS, it's not too late! Access the free recording HERE to explore what blockchain is, how it works, it's impact on the association industry, and more.
For even more valuable information on blockchain for associations, download Blockchain for Associations: Separating the Hype from the Promise, a free and informative whitepaper written by Elizabeth Weaver Engel (Spark Consulting) and Shelly Alcorn (Alcorn Associates Management Consulting and Ubiquity University).
"This whitepaper is by far the best written and most comprehensive theory on blockchain for associations that I've ever seen. This whitepaper makes it easy to understand why associations should be paying close attention to the economic possibilities." ~ Teri Carden, Founder of ReviewMyAMS