A Rock and Roll Guide to Organizational Awareness

By: John Ricco, CAE

If your members were asked to look 20 years into the future and pick a song to describe your organization, what tune would they pick?  Another One Bites the Dust? We Are the Champions?

The song they choose largely depends on how well your organization’s staff helps your leadership identify opportunities to meet today’s and tomorrow’s needs of your members. So how do you ensure your organization doesn’t go the way of one-hit wonders like Vanilla Ice, The Knack or Gnarls Barkley?

Ensuring that you meet the future objectives of your members does not require Starting Over from scratch. Often times the answer is right before you.  One simple way to remain relevant to your members, today and tomorrow, is to keep your Eyes Open and have a heightened awareness of the environment in which your members are operating – an environmental scan of sorts. Consider asking some of the following questions:Guitar.jpg

  • Is there anything going on today (in the news. . . in another part of the country or world . . ) that can help me serve my members better tomorrow?
  • Apart from advocating on behalf of the membership, are there any legislative or regulatory changes that may spur opportunities for my organization?
    • Is there education or awareness that could be conducted?
    • Is there specific training on rules or laws that we can offer?
    • Are there opportunities to collaborate with like-minded organizations?
    • Are there opportunities to build bridges and collaborate with groups that perhaps we are supposed to be at odds with?
  • Is there a “crisis” or Turmoil in the marketplace that could result in heightened awareness about what members do or their role in the community? Similarly, could this turmoil lead to a new offering — a new product or service to our members?

As an example, one organization I am familiar with had a loan program for their members to buy large equipment and make capital improvements.  When a natural disaster affected some of their membership, they immediately streamlined the application process, reduced fees and slightly loosened their underwriting criteria, all with the objective of getting cash into their members’ hands to help them recover.  In the process, they created many supporters for life.

So, don’t lead your organization down the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Ensure it has a Bright Future by being more observant about the trends and challenges your members face, flip those challenges onto their head and develop programs that address the immediate and long term desires of you members.

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