Being Something to Everybody
Associations have a soft spot for wanting to make people happy. One of the mistakes we frequently make, since we all have diverse membership bases, is trying to please everyone. Trying to be everything to everyone. This is typically hard to sustain strategically. You spread yourself too thin trying to please everyone.
But in nearly every strategic conversation I'm having with associations these days, they are being drawn towards focusing on multiple niches. Our customers are less tolerant of receiving their value in packages that are generalized. Big, central, appeal-to-everyone events are down in numbers for my clients. Members want their piece, just for them. Social media is a factor–because it enables a more targeted or micro delivery of value.
This tends to hurt our organizational brains, because we weren't set up to deliver value in such a distributed fashion (hence the spread too thin comment above). We designed our organizations to provide centralized value, not distributed. When a strategic imperative requires changes in organizational design or culture (as this one does), you may be in trouble, because in general, we don't know how to handle design and culture issues.