Positive Association Disruption

Positive Association Disruption

President & CEO


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.

What Keeps Members Up At Night?

positive association disruptionFor Jeff Morgan, Chief Executive Officer at the Club Managers Association of America, CMAA, it was all about understanding what challenges the members were facing and how the association could play a role in creating positive association disruption. Updating the Association’s Strategic plan provided the perfect opportunity to engage members and the board of directors. However, it was an “outside in” focus that helped Morgan and his team systematically uncover and understand the critical external challenges facing professional club managers.

Focused on Professional Outcomes

Utilizing member interviews, financial analysis, and survey results, Morgan established a “Core Focus” somewhat similar to the “Profit from the Core” approach developed by Bain and Company’s Chris Zook. Seeking to strengthen and defend CMAA’s core he:

  • Defined the association’s business boundaries.
  • Identified and verified sources of differentiation that advances market power and influence as well as reinforce CMAA’s competitive strength.
  • Assessed whether the association’s core is operating at or near its full business potential.

Positive Association Disruption through Member Engagement

 In a 24/7 world and a knowledge economy, professionals and members have a multitude of choices ranging from associations to for profit firms. These firms continue to make inroads in what was once considered fertile ground for both associations and professional societies.  For Associations similar to CMAA their competitive positioning is based on creating a powerful and different experience that they might receive somewhere else. In this case building a knowledge-based solutions environment through information sharing mechanisms drives the just in time value that members are seeking.

Driving Value One Member Segment At A Time

With membership dollars not as plentiful in a slow growth economy, drilling down and understanding what different segments of your membership requires to advance professionally is critical. Forward thinking associations continually find new and innovative ways for members to contribute knowledge, learn from others, and build solutions critical to their profession and to their industry.

The Dual Millennial Challenge

As Baby Boomers continue their exit from the workforce, industries continue to develop strategies to attract and engage millennials. CMAA too seeks to attract, energize, and engage young professionals in the club management profession. On the other side of the coin, CMAA also wants to draw millennials into clubs.

Association Helps Members Achieve Professional and Business Outcomes

At renewal time, if members determine their Association doesn’t provide enough professional and business impact, they will vote with their feet and go somewhere else. Too many other alternatives exist and its essential for associations to closely connect the outcomes that members seek in all of their member engagement activities.

Positive Association Disruption

The 2016 PWC U.S. CEO Survey reports that more M&A is expected in 2016, and a host of headwinds that include: “Geopolitical uncertainty, availability of key skills, cyber threats, and a shift in consumer spending and behaviors.” Associations like Club Managers of America, CMAA, the Global Cold Chain Alliance, GCCA, and the Jewelers of America, JA, are all leading a march toward innovation that creates positive association disruption for their associations and the industries they serve.

Positive Association Disruption



Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at www.potomaccore.com