Change is the Only Constant

Change is the Only Constant

By Sue Farrell Stock, Director, AMC Catalyst Consulting

Creating value is often about embracing change. It’s about exploring options in relation to an organization’s overarching business goals. Here are a concrete example and a number of considerations about how change permeates all of what we do in associations.

Product Development Example

When talking about product development, change is surely a constant. In fact, advancing growth through product sales by creating a marketing/outreach strategy may be the right growth vehicle for an organization. Conversely, creating the SAME marketing/outreach strategy that you’ve used historically (that perhaps was very successful) may not result in success. Why? Because what worked in the past doesn’t guarantee future success, and doesn’t take into account the change that has occurred since it was last utilized. Regardless of the approach you take, change is a constant which impacts future sustainability of organizations and relationships.

We use historical data as the driver of future products – yet past practice isn’t always a predictor of future performance. What questions must association professionals ask themselves prior to launching a new business or product strategy?

  • What unmet need will be served by this new program/product or service?
  • How will we measure success of this launch?
  • How well do we understand this market/audience?
  • How well do we understand competitive threats?

Growth Considerations

Associations grow (or don’t) based on their ability to use and adapt to new information and new realities: about audience/customers or the marketplace; about industry trends or influences; and due to the ability of volunteer leaders to define strategy or policy that will advance growth objectives; finally to the staff who will operationalize those objectives.

Resource Considerations

Change often requires big resource investments – time, money and human capital. Often, when change is recognized as “needed” there is still great resistance. Why? Because the resource commitment of doing something differently is greater than staying the course. So if change feels overwhelming, might an organization consider a smaller, incremental approach rather than a major restructure, and will that result in an improved outcome?

Cultural Considerations

Cultural shift has to occur for change processes to be successful. Consider the impact culture has on change. Culture is a powerful, sometimes invisible structure that can advance or thwart change in an organization.

Opportunity Considerations

Associations often don’t consider opportunity costs – the financial impact of not doing something; or doing the right things; or doing them in the right order/timeframe. Opportunity cost is often viewed in hindsight, and it’s through this lens that it can become clear that “we could have” increased revenue through some action. The action could be reducing or eliminating complimentary meeting registrations, capturing thought leader presentations for future digital products, or a wide variety of other things.

When considering “opportunity” as an avenue to increase revenue or reduce expenses, a key invitation to change comes to mind through a simple question: Where is our opportunity to improve? Taking some small action can prove to be the key to big changes down the road, which can result in new opportunities for success.

So no matter how you look to create additional value for the organization and its members, keep in mind that things never stay the same – there is constant change that requires diligent consideration to create the future you and your members want to see.


Sue Stock serves as Director of AMC's Catalyst Consulting team. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . If you have thoughts or ideas you'd like to share about this article, be sure to check out our Facebook page and provide a comment.

Photo Credit: “Seasons Change” by Ian Sane is licensed under CC BY 2.0.