Looking Forward – Q & A with Association Laboratory’s Dean West, FASAE
Earlier this year, three AMC staff members took part in an educational session at the Association Forum led by Dean West, FASAE and President of Association Laboratory in Chicago. Dean’s session focused on Association Laboratory’s latest whitepaper, an environmental scan of the association industry entitled Looking Forward 2016.
AMC: In the session, you talked about how three out of four association CEOs are concerned about member time and money. How does that manifest itself in the results of the survey and how associations need to move forward?
Dean West: Time and money are the building blocks of engagement. If members are unwilling to devote time and financial resources to the association, successfully achieving sustainable growth in support of the mission becomes much more difficult.
AMC: You also discussed how strategic differentiation is the most substantial challenge facing associations. How so?
DW: Competition for the limited member resources of time and money, combined with direct competition, leaves associations struggling to differentiate themselves. With key revenue streams being threatened, associations will have to work harder to ensure growth and market attractiveness in the future.
AMC: Would you share more about the three essential priorities associations must commit to: future-focused information, making better decisions, and having a market orientation/creating customized engagement models?
DW: Future-focused knowledge is critical. The less you know about the future, the more difficult it becomes to adapt to the future. Associations need to improve their processes for identifying and providing information about the future environment. Only by understanding the environment within which association members will operate can association leaders design strategies to help their members succeed.
Associations need to improve the ability of volunteer leaders and executive staff to make sound decisions. Associations waste too much time managing the governing process and producing tactical or even misguided decisions. A leadership team that works effectively to make objective decisions and is held accountable is necessary to prosper in a dynamic business environment characterized by increasing competition.
Finally, to be successful in the marketplace, associations need to employ customized engagement models: identify their primary target audience, prioritize the most essential benefits, and then customize how they configure and price these benefits. Only by providing customized engagement models can associations differentiate themselves in a highly competitive marketplace.
AMC: What are the biggest takeaways for association leaders in this latest whitepaper?
DW: Although the environment facing association members and the resulting implications on association strategy is challenging, there are solutions that help leaders face these challenges. Many associations are successfully addressing them and creating innovative solutions to the needs of their members.
Through their efforts, these association leaders are truly transforming their organizations and creating the next generation of association business models. With the right solutions in place, the future looks great!
Thanks to Dean for sharing his time and expertise with AMC!