Big Idea: What If Only You Could Change Associations?

I read and think a lot about associations. I care about associations. It's my career. I want the best for associations and I like to push associations into being better, more effective, more strategic, more human. So when Acronym challenged everyone to come up with a "big idea" this month, I was ready to answer the call. Joe originally suggested we frame it as a "what if" question. What if associations…

I'm liking what people are writing. But Elizabeth Engel's post inspired what I'm writing here, where she suggested that every staff person be required to pick up the phone and call a member just to get to know them and what they care about. We pay lip service to being focused on members and member needs, but do we really know? As individuals? Do we do anything about it?


Which brings me to my big idea: what if only you could change associations? What if the path to creating a better association community was, in fact, built on thousands of individuals choosing different behavior. Because it is. And you are one of those individuals. 

So what are you going to do differently?

I think it's important that we think about how to make "associations" better, but for all the valuable thinking we do about improving associations, the actual behavior change we engage in as a community is fairly pathetic. At least that's where we need to build our capacity. So my big idea is to throw a little Smokey Bear on you and ask you to change your behavior. I ask you to actually change what you're doing in ways that support our lofty visions for an evolved association community. Pick something, and do it.

If you hit the standard roadblocks (they won't let me, I don't have buy in, I don't have time…) then choose a different behavior. The time may not be right for everything…but it's ALWAYS right for something. Do something, and learn from it. And THEN think about it and write about it. But if we don't start changing our behavior as individuals, I fear our community may become increasingly marginalized.