There was story in the local paper recently about a government commission which hadn’t met for 12 years. No one noticed it was dormant until someone pointed it out. Then there was this hubbub about getting it going again. Why? No one noticed it was dead. Isn’t that the classic definition of irrelevance?
Lots of big challenges abound in both books. I’d bet that the biggest one for associations is the “stop doing list.” The meaning is straightforward. But doing it is really hard, especially for associations which are member-driven and not necessarily good at being results-driven.
When I worked at for-profit companies, the ultimate test was whether a project or product would make us money. Either it does, or we think it will, or it won’t.
In associations, we talk about “mission.” We ask whether it creates “member value.” If we’re sloppy about defining it, then anything can be rationalized. The costs are lost focus, and frazzled staff pulled in a million different directions.
In the end, members always notice. They will see that things happens slowly, or not at all. Or they will notice when things are done sloppily just to get them done. Or the VIPs will notice that they have to be the squeaky wheel. We may think we’re fooling them, but we’re not.
None of that’s good.
We all have these kind of projects or products. If we stopped doing X, would anyone really notice? Continuing to do X may be the greatest barrier to greatness in associations.