Nine Key Principles For Association Success

Is the association business climate keeping up with increasing speed of change?

The association C-Suite, along with their Board of Directors, continue their traditional plans for the future as if nothing has changed. Unfortunately, their conventional planning methods cannot cope with so much uncertainty.

Image by David Hepworth.

Living In Snow Globes

Disruptive innovation usually forces unexpected chains of reaction and societal leaps.

Most C-Suite association leaders are completely unaware of these changes. They are living in the snow globes of the past. Caught in an alternative universe with fake snow and plastic nature. The only disruption they know is when the globe is picked up, shaken and the snow starts to fall. Then they retreat into their plastic buildings to take cover from the cold. They are living within their own bubble unaware of what is actually happening in the real world.

Sadly, disruptive innovation eventually catches up with them. Their snow globe is unexpectedly thrown against the walls of reality and shattered into pieces. By then it is usually too late to adapt.

Old World View Models Not Working

What many association leaders are doing isn’t working.

Some feel like they are losing control. Some revert to “The way we’ve always done things.” Some feel they can’t keep up. Some just want to hold on for another year until things return to normal and the economy improves.

At the end of the day, the association leadership’s worldview is outdated. Their fundamental beliefs and organizing principles are outmoded. Their foundational assumptions about reality remain fixed to an archaic model. Their worldview is unexamined and unquestioned.

Unfortunately, what served them five, three and even two years ago is now out of touch.

The World Is A Web Not A Billiard Table

Many C-Suite association leaders try to understand their world by breaking it down into a series of components and parts. In their planning process, they try to predict the consequences of their actions in the same way billiard players predict the destination of the ball. They use a mechanical, linear model of cause and effect.

The world is not a billiard table! It is a complex web of interconnected causes and effects. Some cause and effects are instant, some take a longer time.

Today’s successful association leaders have adopted a world view that believes in systems thinking.

Nine Key Management Principles Based On Systems Thinking

Systems thinking expert Anthony Hodgson identified nine management principles that will enable organizations to survive and prosper in times of ever-accelerating change. Association leaders should review, evaluate and adopt them as guiding principles for the future.

  1. The rate of learning must be faster than the rate of change.
  2. Internal flexibility must be greater than external turbulence.
  3. Internal collaboration must be greater than internal conflict.
  4. Clarity of vision must rise above information explosion.
  5. Corporate mission must be stronger than disintegrative forces.
  6. Innovative proactive measures must predominate over conservative tendencies.
  7. Quality as the basis of achievement must supersede quantity.
  8. A sense of a wider reality must achieve precedence over limited perception of current situation and poorly-informed projections.
  9. Think global and act local, AND think local and act global.

How is your association shifting from linear to system thinking? Which of these principles will have the greatest impact on your ability to grow and provide value?

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