Uncertainty Opens Doors For Industry and Trade Association Breakthroughs

President & CEO


Nowadays, there’s a lot of conversation of what cannot be done. Many say we are in uncharted waters, and that is true because uncertainty keeps reaching new orders of magnitude. The Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates to tame inflation, job openings break new ground surging past 10 million, military conflict persists in Ukraine, gasoline prices are heading higher again. Some say that a longer-term cohesive industry growth strategy is not feasible. However, in speaking directly with industry leaders and trade association executives and staff, they have uncovered new and different ways of  thinking. Much of what they shared are viable and increasingly effective approaches to achieve durable growth, including well planned customer-centric strategic partnerships that employ strategic planning and scenario planning – they are effective, and they work.

New ground is broken regularly from these and other strategic partnerships. CEO or C-level executives and their industries have opportunities to apply the principles immediately and to confidently begin an industry’s journey forward. In their practical application, strategic partnerships are functional relationships that align in a precompetitive space to overcome the biggest challenges, and then brainstorm a go-forward strategic approach to shape a more favorable external business environment regardless of uncertainty.

The strategic partner strategy with can work with an industry trade association as it has in other industries. In moving forward, any industry can become more fluid and flexible in its approaches and still be able to have the broadest impact in shaping the external environment. Factually, each of the five industries written about in Reimagining Industry Growth (WILEY 2022) rarely miss a beat because of their trade association strategic partnerships.

  1. Recreational Boating Industry—The effort has been to unite a once divided and disparate industry into one voice through an ecosystem of strategic partnerships that extends throughout the entire outdoor recreation industry. Through this ecosystem built by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the industry is recognized by the Bureau of Economic Analysis as a component of the nation’s economic activity. The same ecosystem helps to promote recreational boating and it achieves greater access for boating and fishing.
  2. Baking Industry—Through a series of strategic partnerships that extend from the baking industry all the way through the entire food, beverage, and agriculture ecosystem, the industry was united. These partnerships continued to build, and saved the industry millions of dollars from, for example, tray loss in Texas. The industry acknowledges the American Bakers Association (ABA) as its public face, lauds its support of the industry’s workforce challenges, and recognizes ABA’s impact in shaping the external business environment.
  3. Unmanned Systems—Through its strategic partnership with the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the unmanned systems community is growing an ecosystem of strategic partnerships (through the value chain) that is helping achieve its primary objective–namely, public acceptance of unmanned systems. This partnership is demonstrating the effective implementation of unmanned systems in public safety applications as part of a long-term effort to win public acceptance. AUVSI is building a series of its own consequential strategic partnerships, notably a mutually beneficial working relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration and commercial collaboration with the logistics industry.
  4. Asphalt Pavement—Building a committed community together to support and advance the industry through an ecosystem that stretches from every community back to every company in the industry. Operating with science, trust, and transparency, the industry sees the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) as essential to shaping business strategy now and into the future. Helping the industry achieve meaningful outcomes to protect its workers, it continues to deliver upon its sustainability and safety commitments. Continually building new and different strategic partnerships extends the reach of the industry.
  5. Frozen Foods—Building support through data and science for the industry one relationship at a time. The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) is building an ecosystem to support industry growth all the way to consumers.

In each, their ecosystems provide them the range and the reach to innovate, become more efficient as an industry, and make effective cases to regulators and legislators. The time is now for all Executives to engage with their trade association. Uncertainty Opens Doors For Industry and Trade Association Breakthroughs. In a dramatic period of uncertainty, this is an approach worth pursuing for all Executives and Industries.

Book Dan Varroney as a speaker for your meeting, conference or group and learn how to tap into the potential of strategic partnerships with industry associations from the author of the groundbreaking new book, Reimagining Industry Growth.