Presenters who illuminated the future. Industry partners who are inventing tomorrow. And, the best and brightest colleagues in the association community—that was Solutions Day.

.orgCommunity’s year is book-ended by two signature events. The wrap party for Solutions Day is over. But before we roll up our sleeves for the Innovation Summit (February 28, 2019), we’re taking a moment to recap the exhilaration of a great learning experience.

When I needed help with the Solutions Day launch video, I turned to the techie I can always count on to get me up-to-speed in a hurry—my twelve-year-old. Watching my kids dive fearlessly into the deep end of technology is always an inspiration. Their enthusiasm is one of my big motivators. It challenges me to think differently about association management and keeps me eager to investigate new ideas that can revolutionize our industry. .orgSource has been helping associations through our consulting work for over a decade. About four years ago we realized that we could have a greater impact. That idea was the seed that grew .orgCommunity, Solutions Day and now .orgCompanies.

Being a nonprofit executive was one of my early ambitions. What I didn’t know was that along the way I would also become an entrepreneur. This didn’t happen because I founded a company. The company was the result of seeing myself in a new perspective. I started searching for opportunities, believing in my ability to create change and discovering that making a difference is an addictive experience. Anyone can develop this entrepreneurial mindset. We all have the capacity to dream big, be curious and solve problems. This is what drives .orgCommunity, and it is the spirit of Solutions Day.

Innovation Awards
A highlight of the event was recognizing the special people and teams for whom entrepreneurship means doing business as usual. If anyone thinks that associations aren’t amazing, the Innovation Awards are proof that creativity is thriving in our community. This was a tough contest. Winners had to introduce a product or service that advances a cause, grows revenue, boosts engagement, increases efficiency and decreases costs. The following companies met that high bar:

  • The American Association of Diabetes Educators for the DANA website—the online destination for all things related to diabetes technology
  • The American Society of Anesthesiologists for Anesthesia SimStat—high-fidelity simulation education in a 3D virtual online environment.
  • Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research for Swimming with the Sharks: How Anesthesiologist Inventors Can Move Their Ideas Forward—a session, modeled on the TV show Shark Tank, designed to help entrepreneurs gain support from venture capitalists
  • Ohio Credit Union League for DoYourDiligence.com an online review site

Outstanding Nonprofit Leader Awards
Our goal for Solutions Day is to inspire association executives to work with creativity and passion. We don’t just want to offer what’s best practice today, we want to showcase the strategies and tools that you’ll need for tomorrow. If you asked me to name the thing that’s added the most value to my professional life, I would point to my many colleagues and friends. I have a network that includes mentors I can call on for guidance, experts to inform me on a myriad of topics and advisors to talk me through challenging problems. You can’t put a price on that amazing resource. The three outstanding executives who were recognized for the leadership awards exemplify our brand of collegiality and expertise. It was a pleasure to honor:

  • Rupa Brosseau, Director, Foundation for Anesthesia Research
  • Stephanie Mercado, CAE, CEO and Executive Director, National Association for Healthcare Quality
  • Robert Vitas, PhD, CFRE, CAE, Executive Director, American Academy of Periodontology Foundation

Celebrating Associations Award
We also presented the Celebrating Associations Award to the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research for its philanthropic impact.

This year’s speakers addressed many of the issues that Kevin and I highlight in our new book Association 4.0–Positioning for Success in an Era of Disruption. Tom Morrison, CEO at the Metal Treating Institute kicked the day off with his presentation Unending Uncertainty–Seizing opportunity in a world of the unexpected. Tom reminded us that members support an association’s mission, but they buy its value. He provided great advice for building the concrete benefits that drive member engagement. He cautioned that it’s difficult to plan for an unpredictable future. Success requires a proactive strategy. Leaders must Identify where they want to go, and set the course to get there.

Tracy King, Founder and Chief Learning Strategist at InspirED, is reinventing how associations think about and deliver continuing education. She described disruptions that are already changing the industry. Instead of letting these roadblocks turn your programs upside down, Tracy advised on how to navigate change and thrive.

Thad Lurie, Vice President Business Intelligence and Performance at Experient, capped off the event with a fascinating discussion on the practical and psychological impact of big data. He talked about building context behind the numbers and using the facts to sell new products or initiatives to naysayers.

This is a snapshot of a very full program. I’m going to use future posts to get to the meat of the important messages we heard. The leaders who will be successful in uncertain times are those who can integrate strategies for dealing with risk and change into their culture. Whether you head the organization or play on one of its teams, I hope that you found the inspiration at Solutions Day to discover a new vision for your work and your association. .orgCommunity’s goal is to motivate you to reinvent your reality, blaze a different trail, create something that didn’t exist before, and to make the leap to Association 4.0.