Today, Labor Day in the states, I am addressing association transformation. This is a new
initiative I am leading, putting resources and news online at the new
Market conditions are changing rapidly now. A lot of the trends that
are disrupting associations have been around for a long time. But
because the market disruptions are speeding up, things like
breakthroughs with Internet technology, social methods for interacting
like Facebook, private sector companies providing education for free as
a loss leader—all these are beginning to stack up and accelerate.
My idea is to build a community of visionary leaders, people who are
focused on crafting the future. I have put together a group of Guiding Lights, association leaders recognized for
forward thinking drawn from a number of professional societies and
I have the help of Ron Nicodemus, co-founder of BioAgenda and a
thought-leader event specialist who has put together hundreds of such
professional gatherings, bringing together the best and brightest in
multiple sectors for such luminaries as Disney Institute, NFL Superbowl
Marketing, PBS, and many major networks.
Our idea is to build a community of visionary leaders, people who are
focused on crafting the future, to come together, to work together, and
to provide them with the stimulation and research that they need in
order to think together and influence and shape the future of
professional societies and trade associations. That’s why I’m creating
The benefit that can come from this is enormous. There is immediate
payoffs in the cross-fertilization of ideas among people who are truly
visionaries, so they can instantly transpose things that are working
today to their own organizations. But even more than that, there is
this sense that they can productively interact and generate from their
own business acumen and experience new ideas for how to help their
members and their organizations thrive in the twenty-first century,
which every year is dramatically different than the last year.
So, the benefit is both the immediate ideas and tactics but also
supporting entire industries. These industries are the fabric of
America. That is why I am writing about it today – a public holiday
held in honor of working people.
These are the professional disciplines and the business leaders of
American society. There is an ongoing need. America is not going away.
Our professionals and business owners still need this ability — now I’m
talking about the members, the professionals as well as the trade
associations – still need a place that they can count on that will help
them navigate the future.
I believe a community of visionaries who are practitioners in the field
of leadership – these are the CEOS and Executive Directors of
associations – provides a forum for the future to be charted and
What’s the evidence that I have? I’ve been involved in several
initiatives that have been highly successful in completely different
sectors. At the World Bank I was part of the team that built 120
communities in about 18 months over 75 percent of which are still in
existence, over 17 years later.
I was part of the small team that was a convener and a facilitator and
a catalyst for these communities – we were able to bring together the
cr�me de la cr�me, the thought leaders in their respective fields, to
talk about the critical issues, to grapple with the challenges, to
construct solutions, and to cross-fertilize and build bridges to the
new world, which was the future of their own discipline. That
experience taught me the power of bringing practitioners come together.
Another experience I had was working with Shell and building
communities of people who could help to birth technological
surveillance underground in oil and gas fields, and seeing how these
engineers, asset managers, and strategists were able to think together,
work together, and build solutions that had global impact in what is
today the largest energy company in the world.
Association Transformation will serve individuals in the CEO/ED role by
focusing on what it will take to successfully lead their organizations
through today’s changing landscape. We will host our first event, the
CEO Workout, on October 28 & 29, 2013, in Washington, DC. It’s an
invitation only event limited to association CEOs and EDs. If that
describes you and you want to attend, drop me a line. We are only
taking 30 CEOs and already have more than 50% on board.
There’s more information at AssociationTransformation.com.
leadership is to find, recognize, and secure the future.
– Joel Barker