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We're working on our bylaws. Some of you may think that is the equivalent of watching paint dry, but I beg to differ. It's been just over a year since the Board of Directors committed to working through MSAE's governing documents to set the association up for success. In that time, the Board has engaged in really thoughtful exploration and dialogue around what a vibrant and relevant MSAE looks like and, equally important, what governance structures need to be in place to support it.
Central to that exploration has been asking ourselves some critical questions. Why does MSAE exist? Who do we serve? I hope you're still with me because this is where the magic starts. Asking the right questions allows us to focus and direct our energies - to get clarity on how to create value for our members. As association leaders, who are attentive to disruptive change and actively seek to ensure the relevance of our organizations, it is incumbent upon us to partner with our volunteer leaders to explore the right questions.
Peter Drucker's work in this area has withstood the test of time. Think about using Drucker's Five Questions as you work with your Board on organizational, strategic self-assessment. Deceptively simple, these questions cut to the heart of our work:
1. What is our mission?
2. Who is our customer?
3. What does the customer value?
4. What are our results?
5. What is our plan?
I'm a huge fan of the full body of Drucker's work. He passed away some years ago but remains a legend in management consulting. His book, The Five Most Important Questions, is available in print, audio, and digital versions. It's a quick, thought-provoking read. This book is the tip of the iceberg though - Drucker's body of work is extensive and pertinent.
I'll leave you with one of Drucker's most famous quotes, paraphrased for associations:
The sole purpose of an association is to create a member.
Hhhmm. Guess we'd better get to it then.
Image credit: "Qing Magnifying Glass" by Gary Lee Todd, Ph.D. is licensed under CC PDM 1.0
More than 175 industry professionals joined us for the Safe Meetings in Michigan Virtual Conference, held June 16-17. It was a truly fascinating learning experience, which sought to discuss and address the gorilla in the room; what would the future of conferences and meetings look like for the rest of 2020 and beyond?
How will association revenue be impacted by COVID-19? Membership? Revenue from education and meetings? We're all asking these questions and modeling various scenarios as we work through budget projections and chart the path forward. MSAE recently partnered with the Association Societies Alliance and Dynamic Benchmarking on a COVID-19 Impact Survey to get some perspective on these questions.
The survey focused on four key areas: staffing, professional development budget, gross revenue, and membership. Here's what stood out to me as I reviewed the results for the US and Michigan:
Planning to get through a crisis is one thing. But planning for business after a crisis is something else entirely. It's not yet possible to accurately project or assess the economic impact of COVID-19, yet it is safe to say this is like nothing that has hit the association industry before. At MSAE, we've run and re-run end-of-year financial estimates and cash projections so many times it's dizzying. I thought some of our lessons may be insightful to you as you work through what tomorrow looks like for your association.
Take a look at your business model from a 10,000-foot view.
COVID-19 has completely changed how members view meetings and events. For as long as there are still new cases across the country, potential conference attendees are going to hesitate to join a few hundred (or thousand) of their peers in a singular location and sit in big rooms with other people. While we’re certainly headed in the right direction in many locations (particularly Michigan!), we’re not anywhere close to being out of the woods.