Finding the Answers By Asking the Question

New technologies are popping up every day, disrupting the best practices and processes to which we’ve grown accustomed.

By Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE


Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE President & CEO, Association Forum

You don’t know what you don’t know.


The continuous evolution of our world can be tough to keep up with. New technologies are popping up every day, disrupting the best practices and processes to which we’ve grown accustomed. For associations, the needs and wants of our members are changing swiftly.

But there’s good news: Association Forum is here to help.

The first step is asking the right questions. You don’t know what you don’t know, but the answer is waiting for you to find it. In this issue of FORUM Magazine, we take a look at the power of focus groups as direct avenues into our members’ minds. Over the past year, Association Forum has used member focus groups to assess our content strategy and some of our digital elements. Through the feedback we received, we have made improvements that will provide increased value to our members.

Of course, it’s also important to relay your research to the people who matter. We also look at public education campaigns and how organizations can inform the public on their key initiatives. These campaigns can also be important to raising the profile of your members’ profession.

For insight into some of the research work that Association Forum is embarking on, look at the wrap-up of our Emerging Leaders Think Tank. The Association Forum Foundation Think Tank is an initiative backed by our board of directors that will engage the association industry in an on-going dialogue regarding emerging and disruptive issues in the industry. After a successful and rousing Think Tank in June of this year, we convened a group of young professionals and posed the same questions and issues to them to gain a different perspective from the association and for-profit executives that participated in the first Think Tank.

At the 2019 Honors Awards, Association Forum bestowed the Welcoming Environment Organizational Award to the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). We take a deep-dive into the methods and strategies that enabled ACHE to successfully create a Welcoming Environment.

In addition, Association Forum is in the midst of an in-depth research study around Welcoming Environment, in partnership with McKinley Advisors. Preliminary results of this research will be the focus of our upcoming CEOnly Summit at Holiday Showcase, and more robust findings will be presented at the Welcoming Environment National Summit in April 2020. The goal of these events is to move from conversation to action—having the research is simply the first step in a journey to implement its findings for the betterment of our industry, our members and our world.

At the end of the day, you don’t know what you don’t know, but empowering your association to discover the answers is imperative to being a nimble organization.

About the Author

Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE President & CEO Association Forum

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