Seven New Association Attitudes For 21st Century Success

TTWWADI is so wrong. Image by by G. J. Charlet III.

TTWWADI (pronounced Twadee). “That’s the way we’ve always done it!”

It’s probably the number one excuse used by association professionals to keep programs, services and processes average or status quo. It is heard in association board rooms and offices around the world. It is a major symptom of complacency that can eventually lead to collapse.

Here are seven new association attitudes for 21st century success that combat TTWWADI.

1. A concentrated focus on improving the organization’s capacity to adapt.

Executives and board abandon leadership in the form of providing solutions and focus on working to improve the organization’s capacity to adapt. Leaders seek to change themselves before trying to change the association.

Traditional Thinking: Leaders cling to old models of leadership.

2. A galvanizing view of identifying bold new possibilities.

When groups focus on problem solving, they become depressed. When they focus on future possibilities and work backwards from what they want to create, they develop commitment, energy, enthusiasm and optimism.

20th Century Thinking: Leaders focus energy on identifying and solving the association’s problems.

3. Value isn’t what it used to be.

Competition is changing the value creation from controlled access to flows of knowledge and from a push to a pull society. Pull allows us to find and access people and resources when we need them. It attracts us to people and resources that are relevant and valuable. Today, people can self-organize tribes with free-flowing information without the association’s involvement. The market has shifted from the power of associations that create knowledge and resources to the members who buy its services. This shift is also to talented association staff which organizations compete to hire.

Conventional Thinking: Value is created by the association’s control of members and exclusive information.

4. Trust replaces control and cooperation replaces domination.

Staff, leadership and members gain creative power by cooperating with others. With sufficient information, leadership trusts others to do the right thing. Leaders trust that stakeholders will take the organization to wherever it needs to be, even if the destination is different than planned.

Traditional Thinking: Control and domination rule.

5. Members’ passion drive connections, knowledge flows and success.

Passionate members are key to value creation and co-creators of knowledge flows. Passionate members know what motivates them to achieve high potential. They are critical to association performance improvement.

20th Century Thinking: Association staff and board are critical to association improvement.

6. Institutional innovation attracts new members.

Associations use the power of attraction and pull in open source arrangements. People are attracted to an open platform that organizes and supports the activities and interactions of members. Distributed talent, whether formally part of the association or not, supports the association’s initiatives. Performance measures and online interfaces help collaborative processes.

Conventional Thinking: Pushing messages to broad audiences gets results in new customers.

7. Investing in member development and talent is critical to develop loyalty.

Associations have traditionally focused on member recruitment and retention. Now they must focus on investing in their membership and helping them grow professionally. That creates member loyalty and retention. It’s about developing the members’ talent and helping them grow in real-time.

Traditional Thinking: Focus is on member recruitment and retention.

What other 21st Century new association attitudes would you add to the list?

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dave Lutz, Zerista Pro. Zerista Pro said: RT: Seven New Association Attitudes For 21st Century Success: TTWWADI is so wrong. Image by by … #eventprofs […]

  2. Seven New Association Attitudes For 21st Century Success…

    TTWWADI (“That’s the way we’ve always done it”) is a major symptom of complacency in associations that can lead to their collapse. Jeff Hurt has 7 new association attitudes to combat TTWWADI….

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  4. Tricia says:

    This outline is a brilliant synthesis of data and insight. You put terminology to the thoughts that myself and my professional peers have been observing. thank you!

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