There is something association leadership can learn from the British monarchy about shedding the fear of change and taking action to save their association.
The End of Membership as We Know It was released in 2011, yet interest in the book is growing again. The book, written by our CEO, Sarah Sladek, warns associations about the trends and demographic shift that was to hit the workforce. Some adapted. Others are slowly changing. Some are now waking up to the realization their existence is in peril.
Those that don’t evolve and continue to hold on to “old” ways of doing business and thinking risk irrelevancy. The Industrial Era relied on processes, hierarchy, life-long careers and specific skillsets. In stark contrast to that, the Talent Economy is characterized by innovation, empowerment, globalization, inclusion, collaboration, and purpose. Associations are in a unique position to help their industries address the talent shortage and reverse the trend of declining importance of associations.
Now is the time to embrace the future and be open to change. But, we are human; and we often dislike disruptions.
I’m a fan of stories about the British Monarchy, and like hearing about royal weddings, corgi pets, and births. I’m also a fan of Netflix’s historical drama The Crown which captures the biographical story of Queen Elizabeth II. There is one particular episode in season two that illustrates anyone (or any institution) can embrace change.
It’s 1957 in this episode, and Queen Elizabeth gives a tone-deaf speech at a factory which sets up a public attack from an outspoken lord. The Queen and monarchy are accused of being too uppity, arrogant, and out-of-touch with commoners. Technological shifts were happening, and the military and country’s morale was suffering from a disastrous incident regarding the Suez Canal. This outspoken lord recommends, in order to save the monarchy, it needs to evolve. What he suggested seems trivial in today’s standards but was a major shift in thinking and behavior for the Royal Palace. Several of his recommendations were implemented quickly, and eventually all his ideas were realized.
There are not many institutions more steeped in tradition, stringent hierarchy, and strict rules than a monarchy. Now if a queen, with centuries of tradition to consider, can embrace the future and be open to change than our association leaders can too.
The End of Membership as We Know It: Building the Fortune-Flipping, Must-Have Association of the Next Century (2011) is available to order on Amazon or the ASAE website. Contact us for more information about our consulting services and how we can help you recruit and retain younger members and bring more value to your membership.