Before and After: Association Futures


Before there was a headquarters in DC or some other big city
Before there was a staff and an org chart and a policy manual
Before there were copiers and computers
Before there was a magazine, a website, and a PAC
Before there were budgets and bills, dues and donations
Before there were webinars and e-learning courses
Before there was an annual meeting, a trade show, and sponsorship packages
Before there were sections, or chapters, or councils, or components
Before there was a strategic plan, a BHAG, or a set of key result areas

Before there was any of what we now associate with an association, 
there was something much simpler, much truer, and much more important:

People who shared a common interest and cared about connecting with like-minded people.

In the end, that’s really all that is required for an association to succeed.

Spirited people once joined together to create.
Spectators now gather to consume or critique.

Such a shame that the essential spark that started it all
is now so often in danger of being extinguished 
by all that came afterwards.

Perhaps the future for associations (and other organizations)
may be found in their original beginnings, 
reconnecting to the power of purpose.


A great summary of Orbiting the Giant Hairball, a book well worth reading, can be found here.

1 comment:

Joan Eisenstodt said...

Smiling at this. And so there were 'chat rooms' on AOL in the beginning for those of us like-minded souls to talk about .. well, anything. And now there are FB, Linkedin, and other groups digitally and then there are 'meet-ups' and one has to wonder if they too will formalize their entities and become associations with rules and dues or remain as needed and then disband. Like friendships, there seems to be a 'life' to some associations (whether they are formal or informal) and one wonders - except for certification, ethics, and some other professional guidelines, what will take their place. In the hospitality and meeting sector, there are many more groups formed now without codes of conduct that are impacting behaviors. Will that matter in the future?