Innovation & disruption has been happening and will continue to happen at an accelerated pace. But today is the launch of .orgCommunity’s Innovation + Disruption Conference — the beginning of answers to how associations can tackle and get in front of disruption.

We have worked with the .orgCommunity “Think Tank” in workshops to challenge our thinking of what would happen if associations didn’t exist and the future of work.

The program today is just the beginning of the content and programming .orgCommunity will be bringing to the association community this year.

Kevin and I have been in the association technology space for more than 25 years. Like many, during our careers we helped associations build the first online presence, managed technology teams through the fear of Y2K and through the “.com” boom, and experienced early technology software mergers and acquisitions in our industry.

While these activities seemed disruptive to some at the time, they didn’t have the tremendous impact associations thought they would have on their organizations.

However, we know that the next wave of technology will happen quicker than ever and have a huge impact on the way we work.

Knowing how slow many associations are in making decisions or selecting the right tools, we started asking ourselves, how will membership organizations continue to exist? What is the future of associations?

This led us to asking the questions:

  • Why does any association exist?
  • What would happen if they didn’t?
  • Will membership organizations continue to exist in the future?
  • Are you asking yourself, how would I answer these questions and who do I turn to have these discussions?

This is why .orgCommunity exists.

When I was 28, I had been promoted a couple of times at my organization in a very short span of time. I quickly moved from overseeing a developer and web designer to managing 32 IT and marketing staff. As the team and responsibilities grew, I sought out advice where I could. I had no background in IT, marketing or business development but responsible for it all.

At one point, I sought advice from a woman in our organization about a difficult employee situation. She was not the first person I wanted to turn to but she was my only option that day. During this conversation she says to me “the higher up you get, the less friends you have.” While I could see she didn’t have many friends, her point was that I could no longer confide in many others with delicate situations in the organization. Wow, that struck a cord with me and in reality, it was one of the only reasons I approached her for advice. I have never forgot those words and ever since I have had a passion for connecting association leaders with others who can provide advice or just be a sounding board.

As I observed throughout my career as people were promoted they certainly became “lonely” at the top for a variety of reasons. I was happy that I had network and ability to connect folks and help my lonely friends at the top.

I started the .orgSource consulting business 11 years ago. Through this consulting practice, I gained relationships which turned into spending many hours of coaching, mentoring, lunches with CEOs and connecting my colleagues and friends to the right people at the right time.

We knew that we had become a trusted resource.

At the same time, we were witnessing many organizations dealing with declining or diminishing revenue sources,

·      Major changes in technologies that will be impacting their members,

·      Scrutiny of the membership model,

·      Customers and members demanding more for less,

·      Customers desiring a high level of customization and immediacy,

·      Staff talent becoming challenging to gain,

·      Governance structures often hampering the ability to act quickly,

·      Technology that doesn’t support new business models associations need,

·      The explosion of information and “free” content in a connected world where value is created across ecosystems.

While we were identifying the problems, it also inspired us to help solve them. It is after all core to what we do every day as consultants.

We started asking, what is the future of associations? What will the future look like?

Will some of our friend’s organizations go out of business? Should they go out of business?

Was there a way that we could better share our connections and knowledge with others to help them succeed?

What could we do to reach more organizations and discuss how the next wave of technology will effect on their staff, their members and their organizations?

We already tried to launch .orgCommunity online 10 years prior but it never took off. It simply wasn’t the right solution or the right time. So what would make us think it is the right time now?

Just as we have done in our Think Tank this past year, we started asking ourselves the question what would happen if we don’t create an offering like .orgCommunity? After many debates and discussions with our colleagues, we decided to give it another shot.

Many of you know me and Kevin….once we made the decision, we were off to the races, called our lawyer, set up a bank account and started calling our supplier friends to get us started. We had identified a need and decided to create an online and offline environment to help connect our colleagues with the right resources both online and face to face. We were ready to launch within three months and this was the rebirth of .orgCommunity.

We have had a lot of lessons learned over the past 18 months. We not only knew we would make mistakes, we wanted to try new things to be able to share these lessons learned with our network from social media techniques, email marketing, using data, gathering prospect lists and more.

Our journey this year led us to interviewing some of the most transformative association CEOs. We have interviewed more than 20 association executives and have learned about how they have led their organizations to success and how they are envisioning the future. We are excited to be able to share their stories in a book that we hope to publish this summer. Through collaborative efforts, we will share the experiences and knowledge of a collection of successful association CEOs which several are in the room today including our keynote Abe, Steve Lieber and Steve Welch along with Mark Thorsby, Gina R, Bernadette Patton, Stuart Meyer. They all have great stories to tell.

Our book will take you through a process on how to help lead your organization as we move into the forth industrial revolution, which Kevin will talk more about in a minute. We will then have a second product that will provide a model for creating your future association or what we call, “Building Association 4.0”. And we will launch new products and services along the way help your organizations be innovative and disruptive in your industries. We will help you identify how you can take the right steps to succeed in this exciting world with endless opportunities.

Our focus is helping YOU shape the future of your association. While we don’t have all the answers of what the future will hold, we are a supportive network of sharing and learning.

As you are going through professional or personal challenges, .orgCommunity is a safe place to ask the hard questions, challenge the status quo and learn from each others successes and failures. Through our community we will have several executive resources that are able to provide executive coaching, mentoring and company training. We will continue to be dedicated to content and resources to support you as you lead your organizations into the future.

Most people say they never knew that they would work for an association. While I may not have known where my journey was heading, I did know that I wanted to work for a cause since I was 14. These drove my decisions through school and my career. I didn’t think I would end up here today but I am glad to have this opportunity! My passion and my cause is YOU. It is our goal to help you be successful personally and professionally. My journey has led to us establishing .orgCommunity to help all of you as you lead your organizations!