Today I spoke to over 100 executives as part of the American Society of Association Executives Leadership Forum. The venue: Quebec, Canada. The topic: Breakthrough Innovation.
When I asked the audience how many of them have experienced disruptive change in their markets and organizations, every hand in the house went up.
In addition to sharing thoughts from my recently published article 6 Ways to Create a Culture of Innovation, I also shared the Intuit Catalyst Toolkit, a resource that the software company encourages everyone at all levels and in all functions to use to innovate. I provided the story of the nonprofit HousingWorks, which revolutionized the nonprofit thrift store model by creating stylish destination stores with the unique look of a designer boutique.
Even though associations aren’t “for profit”, they can (and should) innovate like anyone else (however they decide to define innovation).
Emerging technologies and market shifts have disrupted many organizations, and associations are no exception. The flip side of any threat is opportunity. Associations have the opportunity to innovate, and it starts with these questions:
- What is the game changer that gives us our raison d’etre? (I had to throw in the French since we are in Quebec after all)
- What are the metrics of success that will shift behavior and reinforce innovation?
- What pilot projects can help get our feet wet through experimentation?
- How can we push the thinking and boundaries of our staff by exploring new member needs, markets, trends and business models?
- How can we create a true culture of innovation?
Change is everywhere and impacting everyone. Disruptive innovation isn’t just for companies like Apple and Netflix. Whether you’re a membership association, professional society, visitors’ bureau, or tourism board, the burning platform is the same: to disrupt or be disrupted, that is the question.