There is a very big range in the potential health of any association isn’t there?
Association A: You might work for an association whose industry is being completely upended by technology or regulations. You might be facing competition, so steep members are leaving by the hundreds. Or maybe your member’s organizations are consolidating, or maybe they are in the middle of a cyclical industry downturn.
Association Z: Or maybe every indication says everything is great at your association. Your financials are strong, and there is plenty of money in reserves. Membership is growing. The last product launched was a huge success. The profession is on the rise, and oh, the industry is growing too. Maybe someday there will be competition to worry about so we will use this time to prepare.
Logically we know that in Association A’s strategy will look nothing like Association Z’s. But in the heat of the moment, it is easy for Association A to try to use Association’s Z’s strategies to dig themselves out. If this strategy and these tactics are making Association Z successful, we should do that too, so the thinking goes.
The problem is Association Z has a lot of built-in latitude. They have more resources. They have more time. They have room for error. When it is time to talk about strategy Association Z is talking about what they would like to do.
Not Association A. Association A can only prioritize what they must do or should do. There’s no room. Time has run out. Every conversation, every plan, every action should be about what is essential. Yes, it would be nice to do this activity, but this year, unless it is critical, we move this action to next year.
Is your association more like Association A where you need to focus on only the goals that are essential? Or is your association more like Association Z where you have the luxury of planning what you would like to do? By the way, make sure your board knows where you are in this range too.