Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Association 3.0

I just got a chance to read Jeff's article "Beyond Today".

One paragraph stands out to me:

In a long-tail world filled with an infinite number of niches, choice is now a paramount business consideration for all organizations. If Association 3.0 is going to be an attractive and worthwhile opportunity for diverse people and perspectives, we must make it easier for those individuals and ideas to find a home in our organizations. By creating more choices for how that can happen through new forms of collaborative engagement, we can increase the total surface area of our associations and, in the process, make them more inclusive. Rather than being all things to all people, Association 3.0 can be a trusted community in which all interested contributors are welcome to follow their inspiration and pursue their aspirations.

I think this is the single hardest thing facing association professionals right now. How do I avoid trying to be all things to all people, but still create an environment where a diverse body of members can get the information, opportunities, benefits and services they want? And, how do I do this while simultaneously trying to grow my membership? It seems to be a bit of a paradox.

I hear people like Seth Godin talking about pushing past the Dip. Sometimes you have to know when to quit, or when to drop a program. But then how do you stay relevant to the few members who joined just for that program? Yes, you would hopefully have sold them on other valuable member benefits, but sometimes people join for one thing, and one thing only. As you continue to add new programs and benefits, they become harder and harder to manage. But if you don't add new things, you lose members because you aren't relevant any more.

The vicious cycle continues, and we must find a happy medium.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

I think part of the problem is the old-school, central-control paradigm: that the association has to please the member, serve them, satisfy them, do things for them. That is part of it, but there is simply too much value out there in the members serving themselves. If we can give up the notion that we, the association, have to do it all, I think we'll open up new opportunities.