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Industry CCO

Associations 3.0: "The New Normal"

By G.A. Taylor Fernley, President & CEO

"Are we learning as fast as the world is changing?" How would you answer this question?

The business landscape as we knew it is forever changed. Many industry associations are remaking themselves or disappearing entirely. Some experts claim that it is not a recession we have been going through; however, an economic "compression" the painful process of reconciling an economy based on perceived value with its actual value.

The landscape that emerges after this so-called storm will be vastly different from anything we have experienced. That's the bad news. The good news for those who see opportunities through the haze, the future is rich with new and exciting possibilities.

Enter the "New Normal."

The sooner we recognize that this downturn has been the precursor to another seismic shift in our economy and society, the quicker we can shift from a doom-and-gloom mindset to being exited about new growth and ready to embrace the next area of, let's call it, reinvention.

Many forward thinking association leaders are already beginning discussions about what the new landscape will be. And again, rest assured, it will not resemble anything we have seen before.

Enter "Associations 3.0." We as association leaders need to invent the next "traditions" for our organizations, ways of thinking and being that will allow us to move forward with greater confidence so that we may realize our full potential and progressively and aggressively move our associations forward.

But what defines leaders in these uncertain times is a universal sense of optimism and a relentless search for opportunity; put another way,

  • They do not focus on the current problems, but on new solutions
  • Their view is one of long-term growth, not short-turn survivability
  • They identify and exploit changing dynamics in the marketplace
  • They see who is buying, what their priorities are, what needs they can satisfy now, and what is just around the corner (The clients of today will not be the client of tomorrow).
  • They see downturns as an opportunity to "de-clutter," reevaluate and refocus their strategy
  • And, last but not least, they accept that what we have come through is a natural cycle and an opportunity to build capacity and resilience to face head-on the next challenge down the road. They use these times to aggressively position, or reposition themselves for the upturn just around the corner.

And, that's just where we are today. Growth and consumer confidence continues to improve, albeit at a snail's pace. So again, and at the expense of being redundant;

"Are we/you learning as fast at the world is changing?"