Innovation is relatively new in the association industry. A recent association industry benchmarking report notes that 73% of associations have started their focus on innovation within the last 5 years (27% within the last year). Evolutionary-type innovation has probably been happening in pockets within the association for quite some time. It’s the whole association-wide focus on innovation and revolutionary-type of innovation that is very new to us.
There’s a pervasive industry feeling that associations are lagging too far behind. So there’s mounting pressure to change but with change comes worry.
Many association executives embarking on new innovation projects say they worry about:
- Having enough resources to innovate when times are tight
- Being innovative enough, fast enough
- Reverting back to the status quo
- Not realizing success with the new innovations
Whether you are just getting started with a new focus on innovation or have been innovating for a few years, innovation it seems is fraught with worry.
On the other hand there are a few associations, highly innovative associations that have been innovating for decades. Interestingly they don’t worry as much about innovation. Maybe it is from experience. Maybe it is because they have seen so much success. Maybe it is because they have a process that works. Maybe because they have a stable, forward-thinking, innovative culture. They don’t feel worried. In fact they say things like: “we are confident about this direction” and, “being innovation focused is the right thing to do” and, “we are positioned really well”.
It is oddly comforting to know that in our early attempts to focus more on innovation we can expect some pain, bumps and uncertainty. This is totally normal. Eventually though we’ll be come pros, we will see success and we will feel far, far less uncertain even with far, far more change.
If you haven’t already, dive into the 2016 Association Industry Innovation Research Study sponsored by NBAA and conducted by me and let me know if you have any questions.