My grandfather was 92 and working in his Japanese-style garden when he passed away. My grandmother passed away at a similar age in a nursing home where she had been for a few years battling Parkinson’s. If I could pick my path, I’d like to follow my grandfather’s example and live to a ripe old age while continuing to potter about doing the things I love to do.
Recently I heard a doctor use the term “health span.” Having a long lifespan is not essential when your health span is short. Languishing for years is not what most of us want.
The same is true for associations. Most associations are not in jeopardy of going out of business today, or tomorrow, or even five years from now. We have fat reserves to carry us through tough times. We don’t need to worry about our organization’s lifespan as much as we need to think about its health span.
When we focus ourselves, our staff, and the board on the association’s lifespan we orient decisions around what is economically good for the association. What is financially good for the association in the near-term may not be beneficial for our members in the long-term.
On the other hand, if we focus ourselves, our staff, and the board on the association’s health span we become more member-centric. Member engagement becomes the focus. What makes an association healthier? Productive and happy members and a healthy, growing industry or profession.
The health span orientation forces us to get very curious about our members, think about our members’ success, and do things that outsiders could perceive as not great for the association in the short-term but is great for the association and members for the long-term.
How does the conversation change at your association when you start talking about your association’s health span?