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If a Monarchy Can Modernize, Why Can’t Your Association?

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 more than a decade ago, 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 skill sets.

In stark contrast, the Talent Economy is characterized by innovation, empowerment, globalization, inclusion, collaboration, and purpose. Associations are uniquely positioned to help their industries address the talent shortage and reverse the trend of the 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.

The global Membership health matrix

Let's take the pulse of how members think of different association practices. You can use the insights to stop declining memberships and engage existing members better.

I’m a fan of stories about the British Monarchy, and I’ve enjoyed 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. One particular episode in season two illustrates that anyone (or any institution) can embrace change.

In this episode set in 1957, Queen Elizabeth gives a tone-deaf speech at a factory, setting 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 suffered from a disastrous incident regarding the Suez Canal.

This outspoken lord recommends saving the monarchy. It needs to evolve. What he suggested seems trivial by today’s standards but was a significant shift in thinking and behavior for the Royal Palace. Several of his recommendations were implemented quickly, and eventually, all his ideas were realized.

Few institutions are more steeped in tradition, stringent hierarchy, and strict rules than a monarchy. Now, if a queen, with centuries of tradition to consider, could embrace the future and be open to change, our association leaders can too.

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