Future of Association Work and Survival

Written by Sherry Budziak on December 19, 2017

Stuart Meyer hasn’t worked in an office setting in eight years, including the last two years as CEO of the National Barbecue & Grilling Association. He serves as a virtual CEO of an entirely virtual organization.

Since NBBQA changed its business model in 2015, the association has seen lower operating costs, more focus on strategic business priorities, higher productivity and an increase in customers.

While a remote workforce may not work well for every organization, operating trends and customer demands require associations to be more agile and take more risks, in order to stay relevant, responsive, and adaptive in Industry 4.0.

The Trends

Industry 4.0—or what some people call The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Internet of Things—is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It is the new era of interconnectivity. It is the convergence of the digital, physical and biological worlds that are influencing the way associations work and the nature of the work they do.

There are four major aspects of Industry 4.0, or impacts on the future of work, that will affect all associations:

  1. Demand for mass quantity with high-quality, customized service
  2. Formation of new partnerships and collaboration beyond sales and marketing to innovation agreements—where the offline and online worlds work together
  3. Transition of operating models to digital models, leading to more platform-oriented solutions and organizations (e.g., Uber and Airbnb)
  4. Products enhanced by data that are continuously improved (e.g., sensors providing constant feedback)

These trends are challenging traditional and strongly held beliefs about core value propositions as well as content and delivery in associations.

How to Thrive

To thrive in this new world of work, associations must think like entrepreneurs and execute like Fortune 100 companies, yet continue to provide purpose. Associations must:

  • Broaden their value proposition to compete for members and customers
  • Engage new and different audiences
  • Cultivate staff talent with for-profit marketing and product development business acumen
  • Change governance structures to reflect the markets we serve—develop leaders who look like the people we serve
  • Adopt new business models for education delivery and community
  • Determine new ways to cultivate resources—people, financial support and technology

Thriving and surviving requires a new way of doing things – as Meyer explained to a crowded room during our co-presentation on “Association 4.0: New World of Work” at ASAE’s annual conference earlier this year. NBBQA’s success is largely attributable to clear processes, use of cloud-based management tools for team collaboration, and a culture of transparency, open communication and accountability. Everything it does is designed to facilitate connections, identity, and a sense of belonging on a daily basis.

Your association may not be ready for a 100-percent virtual operation or a freelance workforce, but the time is now to embrace strategic thinking, nimble decision making, and risk taking. The paths this might open up for you are the ones heading towards the future.

This article was originally published on .orgSource and can be accessed here.