Great Change Means Great Opportunities for Growth

Now is not the time to play it safe. We must explore new opportunities to grow and change our organizations.

By Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE

Perspective

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

We survived 2020. But not just that: We have all upped our tech games, launched and attended virtual events, searched for solutions to new problems — even met our coworkers’ pets through video calls. So much has changed since this time last year, and it’s painfully obvious that things will never truly return to what they were.

The pandemic has changed us and our organizations. At the very least, it has brought us perspective. At the very worst, it has brought us grief.

For businesses and organizations worldwide, the pandemic has ushered in uncertainty. The association community has felt this across the various industries we represent. Association Forum has felt it too.

But, there is hope and opportunity in change. Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel famously said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

Now is not the time to play it safe. We must explore new opportunities to grow and change our organizations. If you’re an employee, strive to be an “intrapreneur,” or someone inside an organization who pushes the status quo and is willing to take calculated risks. If you’re a CEO, give your people the space to take risks — your organization depends on it.

We plan to stay focused on the people who have made our organization strong for more than a century. We’re dealing with a new paradigm, but our organization is leading with the same heart.

Association Forum’s Board of Directors recognized that this global shift warranted a new business model for the organization. This model adopts a startup mindset and looks at how we can exploit the organization’s strengths while also exploring new opportunities.

Our mission to serve the association community remains unchanged. But, we know that in order to stay relevant during these times, we need to make fundamental changes to run more like a business. Those changes are being made at the highest levels of our organization’s strategy and will trickle into everything Association Forum does. We will ask our members what resources you count on from us and dig deeper into those areas. And we will explore new frontiers — new revenue streams, new media, new technology.

All the while, we plan to stay focused on the people who have made our organization strong for more than a century. We’re dealing with a new paradigm, but our organization is leading with the same heart.

Thank you for coming on this journey with us. I hope that you’ll find some ideas within these pages to spark change for your organization. Together, we can find opportunities within these times.

About the Author

Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE, is the President and CEO of Association Forum.

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