Monitoring and Leveraging Changing Environments


It's easy to be so busy with an association's business not to get around to dialing into what's happening around us. The cyclical nature of governance practices, the operation of major programs, the rituals of staff, etc., can cause us to miss consequential changes happening within the various environments we operate. Not good. I liken this to what happens when characters in a movie get into a deep conversation or argument while riding in a car. As the observer, you start watching for what is sure to be an impending calamity as soon as you notice that none of the characters are paying attention to the road. But the characters continue with their distraction, hurling blithely to their misfortune - an oncoming car, obstruction in the street, washed-out bridge, whatever it may be. Likewise, successful navigation of associations demands that we continually monitor our environments, avoid misfortune and adjust for optimal outcomes. 

To help you develop or refine your scanning system, this edition of the Executive Brief includes various articles and a video on environmental scanning. Of course, the process looks very different from one association to another, but a few broad considerations are: 

Matching the rate of change -  Scanning frequency, intensity, and method must match, or exceed, the rate of change within our respective industry(s).  

Habit stacking to ingrain scanning - Leverage existing strong connections and rituals to embed scanning into the association's regular practices. This could mean conducting a scan in an annual member survey or at a yearly gathering, quarterly board meetings, or monthly leadership team meetings- or all of the above.  

Using the business intelligence - Information gleaned from scanning should inform all aspects of decision-making. It should shape the association's value proposition, inform staff assignments and competencies, and governance form and practices.  

Resources to support scanning include:

A well-thought-out, ingrained, and responsive system for regular monitoring of the environment is a hallmark of high-performing, innovative associations. Please drop me a line if you'd like to share how your association monitors change or if you'd like additional environmental scanning resources.