3 Association Radical Transformation Strategies

Association Radical Transformation Strategies

Are persistent growth challenges and global uncertainty opening different pathways for Trade Associations? In several instances, several Association CEO’s are utilizing radical transformation strategies to increase their relevance to the members and the industries they serve. Do Association’s need Radical Transformation Strategies to remain relevant enough to keep their members engaged over the longer term?

Association Radical Transformation Strategies

In 1982, as the global competition and market disruption accelerated, Tom Peters introduced a new way of thinking in his book “In Search of Excellence.” Instead of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” he said “If it ain’t broke, you just haven’t looked hard enough.” As market conditions drive tighter margins and uncertainty limits opportunities for industry growth, Tom Peters bias for action is a clarion call for Associations. The following 3 Association Radical Transformation Strategies will help to radically transform your Association and better position your organization to more impactfully engage your members:

  1. Dispense with traditional Association Strategies, Connect the Value Chain

Engage the entire value chain (suppliers, original equipment manufacturers, producers, customers, and customer’s customer) through qualitative and quantitative research. Identify similarities among business challenges and growth opportunities. In doing so, your organization is positioning itself as the place to address solutions and drive growth from one end of the marketplace to the other.

  1. Forget Competitive Boundaries, Lead and Convene the Value Chain

Forget competitive association boundaries. Convene the industry or profession value chain through your association, collaborate with other associations to address industry business challenges and identify new pathways to top line growth. For example, leverage advocacy resources of the entire value chain to reduce compliance costs. Your bias for action is no longer about your products or services, it’s about industry business outcomes. Driving these outcomes throughout the entire value chain provides the results they must have to succeed. If they succeed, then they remember who helped drive their success and reward you with a renewal or a new membership.

  1. Association Promotion becomes secondary, Promote and Grow the Industry or Profession throughout the Value Chain

In a hyper competitive world, relevance is the key that can unlock the business and professional outcomes that your members need. This is the bias for action that matters, promote the industry through actionable research. Utilize it to demonstrate the industry’s impact to advocate with elected officials, regulators, and industry customers. Also, develop actionable research to identify opportunities to increase efficiency or unlock growth opportunities throughout the value chain. Having the value chain at the table creates allies to drive business outcomes.  Anything less and your Association’s membership is at risk.

Transformation and Action

Trade Associations who demonstrate a bias for action and transformation are increasing. As global market complexities increase, several CEO’s are embracing transformation as the better pathway to keep their Association’s relevant. What’s more, each of these Associations is finding it easier to engage their members because of the relevance to their business challenges and outcomes.

Association Radical Transformation Strategies

Thayer Long, NPES President since May of 2016, sees his organization’s strategic planning process as an ongoing act of invention. Although the plan was approved by the organization’s Board of Directors in December 2016, this is a larger effort to support global growth for the print and imaging industry. An NPES Core Team is convening representatives of the value chain (original equipment manufacturers, printers, and brand owners) to ensure that new products and services provide real time solutions to drive business outcomes. Actionable data and acting on what they know versus what they think is now a part of the NPES DNA. The association wants to remain nimble to take full advantage of any new opportunities help reduce costs or to support top line growth for the industry they serve.

Association Radical Transformation StrategiesCorey Rosenbusch, Global Cold Chain Alliance President & CEO maintains a relentless focus on a strategic plan reflecting the business outcomes of refrigerated food and logistics industry around the world. GCCA developed disruptive advocacy strategies to lower the costs of regulatory compliance for their members. What’s different today? The association leads and convenes an ongoing broader industry effort focusing on cost reduction.

Since adoption of its new strategic plan GCCA has experienced 25% growth in annual revenue.

Association Radical Transformation StrategiesHeidi Brock, President & CEO, the Aluminum Association and her team have transformed the way they serve their members. Tightly aligning advocacy strategies with member business outcomes and continually providing actionable research to share with elected officials and prospective customers of the industry keeps the Association relevant. Moreover Brock, her team, and the Association’s Executive Committee work towards quantifiable outcomes for the Aluminum Industry.

The Aluminum Association is experiencing 11% membership growth, retention improved 3%, and their core revenue is 6% higher than the prior year.

3 Association Radical Transformation Strategies

Should your Association adjust its bias for action? Start by asking these four questions of your Board and your members:

  1. As you think about the Association over the last 3-5 years what has the organization achieved in terms of direct impact on your costs of doing business and your opportunities to grow your topline revenue?
  2. Over the next 3-5 years what are the industry’s most significant challenges, threats and business growth opportunities?
  3. How aligned is the Association with these challenges and opportunities?
  4. Would you like the value chain at the table with us to help build solutions and drive future topline growth?

The answers to these questions will provide the basis you need to launch your 3 Association Radical Transformation Strategies.

Association Radical Transformation Strategies

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

4 Association Disruption Strategies

4 Association Disruption Strategies

The 2017 PWC 20th annual CEO Survey, fourth quarter domestic GDP numbers and the 2017 Conference Board Global forecast of 2.3% economic growth show just how challenging business conditions are for today’s business decision makers. Organizations can help their members convert these challenges into growth opportunities by utilizing 4 Association Disruption Strategies. In doing so you, can position your organization as disruptive growth agents for the Industry or the Profession you serve.

Disrupt Ourselves

Embracing the hyper competitive environment is essential in a time of global uncertainty and disruption for all Association and Professional Society Leaders. “We have to disrupt ourselves every day,” notes Thayer Long, President of Reston, Virginia based NPES.  He points to how his Association is answering the call and positioning itself to be a growth agent for the printing and imaging industry.  In a recently completed Strategic Plan update, he reflects on how NPES with Board and Market guidance is addressing  challenges and competitive threats for the Industry and the Association.

Transforming into agents of change and growth helps keep your organization more relevant. In today’s environment, members demand real time solutions that advance their concerns and achieve results. By adding these 4 Association Disruption Strategies into your planning process, your organization becomes an important part of everyday conversations.

4 Association Disruption Strategies

  1. Obtain Actionable Data – Understanding challenges and opportunities for the Profession or Industry you represent is a must. Utilizing an impact and member engagement focused survey can help you obtain more realistic assessments of how relevant and connected your organization is to the outcomes that members seek to achieve. Taking your members pulse annually through impact and memebr engagement surveys will especially help keep your organization aligned with your members and their customers.

2.  Position the Association as an Outcome Driver Changing the conversation from “here’s what you get for your money” to “here’s the power of engaging with others in your Industry/Profession to create new, innovative solutions” positions your organization as a thought leader and a solution provider.

3. Deliver Products to Drive Impact  Avoiding the “all you can eat buffet” environment that adds more products dilutes value and dampens staff enthusiasm over time. This posture also causes your members to perceive your Association or Professional Society as less relevant. For example, a data based approach that utilizes survey results from members and their customers can validate what your members need to achieve their business outcomes.  Using this approach NPES was able to affirm the need to deliver actionable Industry Research for Global Print Manufacturers, Printers, and the Big Brand Companies.

4. Keep Strategic Plans NimbleAs business cycles shift, your organization must be able to adapt and remain relevant. For instance, it’s not yet clear on what the Post Brexit environment will look like nor is it clear how health care policy will evolve. Collaborating with your board to build and adjust an organization Business Plan instead of the traditional Strategic Plan helps you respond instantaneously to market changes.

Applying these 4 Association Disruption Strategies to develop your new Business Plan can help your Association or Professional Society accelerate its relevance and motivate higher levels of Member and Industry engagement. By doing so, your organization becomes the focal point for the Profession or Industry you represent. For NPES, extensive survey research and strategic deliberations with their board positions the organization as the focal point for the global imaging and printing industry growth.

4 Association Disruption Strategies

4 Association Disruption Strategies

The Merriam Webster definition of disrupt helps to frame the decision point for you as an Association Executive or an Executive Director:

  • “to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way: to interrupt the normal progress or activity of (something)”

In today’s uncertain and anemic growth environment, should Associations and Professional Societies utilize their Business Planning (formerly known as Strategic Planning) process to “disrupt themselves?” Is there any other choice?

4 Association Disruption Strategies

 

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

Advocacy Drives Business Outcomes

advocacy drives business outcomes

For leading Associations, their mantra is clear Advocacy Drives Business Outcomes. These organizations collaborate with their boards to make sure that the Association’s Advocacy Strategies reflect the growth challenges and opportunities that their members care most about. Even though the U.S. economy grew at a brisk 3.5% in the third quarter of 2016 growth forecasts for 2017 remain mixed. What also remains to be seen is just how much disruptive technologies and policies of the new Administration will impact the business landscape in the new year.

What is becoming increasingly more clear is how Associations can accelerate their business impact for their members in 2017. There is already evidence that CEO’s are leveraging organizational resources to engage their members in ambitious policy and regulatory agendas. In doing so these Associations are key allies in helping their members overcome challenges, reduce costs, and in several cases enter new markets.

Policy Priorities Mirror Industry Outcomes

Associations including the Global Cold Chain Alliance, GCCA,  and the American Bakers Association, ABA, utilize their Advocacy Strategies to link member dues investments to the cost reduction and top line growth outcomes that their members seek.  GCCA’s strategic plan incorporates advocacy and business outcomes and ABA emphasizes the impact of its advocacy strategies in an annual video. The Fertilizer Institute’s, TFIAdvocacy Strategy is laser focused on helping its members manage its costs through a slow growth cycle. Each of these organizations demonstrate how advocacy drives business outcomes.

The Board leaders and the Association are collaborators and make sure policy priorities reflect the challenges and opportunities facing the industry per Heidi Biggs Brock, President and CEO, at the Aluminum Association.

Engaging the Board on External Issues

As the global marketplace grows more increasingly complex some Associations have found it difficult to increase board attendance and active participation at their meetings. Organizations who structure their board meetings as more of a “knowledge sharing” and strategic focus for attendees are finding higher levels of interest and engagement.

Measuring Advocacy and Policy Outcomes

Advocacy Drives Business OutcomesShowing how advocacy delivers a return on member engagement is a critical element of what organizations like the Aluminum Association provide for their members. Being able to demonstrate how your organization measures and tracks these outcomes is especially impactful in the minds of the dues paying member.

Expanding Advocacy Impact

Building and recruiting allies inside and outside your industry is a staple for Associations who seek to magnify the impact that they can deliver for their members. Identifying who else needs to be at the table to help your organization build an even greater base of support is essential.

 Advocacy Drives Business Outcomes

In an uncertain world board leaders and members insist upon direct return from their investment of time and financial resources. The Aluminum Association, the American Bakers Association, the Fertilizer Institute, the Global Cold Chain Alliance, and several others have already transformed their organizations. Through tightly focused Advocacy Strategies Today’s Associations are upping their game and helping industries reshape the external business environment for their members. They are doing so by communicating how Advocacy drives business outcomes.

Advocacy Drives Business Outcomes

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

 

post brexit associations

Post Brexit Associations

The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom along with modest and subdued global economic growth will continue to affect corporate decisions on external costs not related to top line growth and operating performance. Associations in a number of instances are increasingly more relevant, and have strategic objectives closely aligned with the industries they serve. These organizations also have the characteristics that define Post Brexit Associations.  However, in a rapidly evolving global market, how aligned is your association in order to help your members and their industries meet new challenges?

Association Relevance

Association Relevance Despite Market Turbulence

In an era of unending economic challenges and uncertainty, industries must be relevant in order to grow. KPMG’s 2016 report “Setting the Course for Growth: CEO Perspectives” underscores how today’s CEO is laser focused on staying relevant in a turbulent global market. In order to remain relevant to their members Trade Association CEO’s focus more on understanding industry challenges then helping drive industry outcomes. Achieving Association Relevance Despite Market Turbulence is how CEO’s can position their organizations for long term growth and durability.

Regulatory Activity Reshaping Associations

Regulatory Activity Reshaping Associations

Where are CEO’s planning to spend their time in 2016? According to a KPMG study of 400 Chief Executives, “34% spend more time with regulators or are considering doing so.” The same report notes the regulatory environment as the number one issue that can “impact a company”, and adapting to government regulation is ranked as CEO’s second most critical challenge. For companies, the spike in regulatory activity is real. In 2015, Thomson Reuters published its sixth annual Cost of Compliance Survey noting among other challenges “regulatory fatigue.” Is the increase in regulatory activity reshaping associations?

active innovation

Data Fuels Active Innovation

In a growing trend, Association CEO’s and their Board Members are utilizing economic data as important context for their strategic deliberations. Jobs data, Housing StartsInstitute for Supply Management Index (ISM), Oil Prices, Consumer Spending, and U.S. Dollar Performance against other currencies is a more frequent topic at Association Strategic Planning Sessions. Although Strategic Plans cover 3 year windows, Boards encourage their CEO’s to be flexible and to use trend data to meet shifting demands to help their industries. In essence, economic data fuels active innovation at Associations.

Positive Association Disruption

Positive Association Disruption

Can positive association disruption reverse the fortunes for industry professionals and an organization? In a weak economic growth environment, it’s a daunting task. According to the 2016 PWC U.S. CEO Survey concerns “over volatility and over-regulation are rising.” What’s more, Reuters reported that retail sales slipped in a recent report and fourth quarter U.S. economic growth was only 1%.  How can an Association overtake an economic cycle and put its members and itself in the driver’s seat? The answer is its possible and for one Association it yielded a $1 million turnaround in operating performance.

Disruptive Advocacy Strategies

Disruptive Advocacy Strategies

Can Disruptive Advocacy Strategies unlock industry growth and cost saving opportunities for your members in a slow growth economy?  While the possibility of a recession seems unlikely this year, growth remains a challenge for many industries. According to the Conference Board, U.S. growth in 2016 is forecast at 2.0% while Global growth is forecast slightly higher at 2.5%. As increasing regulatory oversight dominates the federal and global landscape, building an agency focused strategy on behalf of your members can pay dividends for the industry and for your association.