Time For Associations To Trade In Their Past?

Linton Weeks at National Public Radio has an interesting take on the future of Associations. In it is a quote from Jim Carroll, author of 
Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast (quoted below). Hey AIC and ALA executive committees, you should read this article.

In 2010 Carroll wrote that many of the trade groups “remain stuck in a rut of complacency. They deliver the same old program. They focus on the same old issues, generate the same old knowledge, plan the same old conference, and have their agenda managed by the same old membership has-beens.

“Meanwhile, they bemoan the fact that membership is declining; that the Millennials seem to have little time or inclination to join them; and that the world is just becoming, well, too complex to deal with.

“So they form a committee, hire a consultant, study the issue, and lull themselves into a false sense of future-security.

“By doing so, they are almost guaranteeing themselves a march into oblivion.” If an association “doesn’t evolve at the same pace,” Carroll says today, “or doesn’t keep up, or doesn’t define the future, it risks becoming obsolete.”

via National Public Radio

What do you think readers? What is the value of a trade association membership?


4 Responses

  1. Interesting article, thanks for sharing Beth. I think one of the biggest challenges is that in the past one had to be a member of association to get access to essential information. That has changed dramatically since the mid-90s when the Internet took off and more and more information became available online, and easier to find in some respects. Add to that the 2.0 aspects of listservs such as the DistList and others that provided a direct way for peers to interact regardless of location or affiliation and the growing “open access” movement. Responding to this has been a challenge for many organizations who struggle to find a way to redefine the benefits of membership… There was also an interesting article in ’09 along the same lines at http://thinkingrecords.co.uk/2009/06/03/the-impact-of-the-web-2-0-world-on-the-records-management-society/ .


  2. Thanks Peter, the link you provided is a good read, too. I would love AIC or ALA to talk more openly about the impacts of dwindling travel budgets and how allowing distribution of presentations online could benefit the community. I’ve spent years asking why we can’t do this and get a variety of answers, some of which are compelling, some are simply not.

  3. AIC has ramified from monolithic to specialty group identities. Such progressive revamp may not be that corrective of ceremonial or organizational inertia. Perhaps a nimble monolith, quick to convene teams on timely topics, would add excitement.

    A good example of a timely topic is the quickly progressing displacement of print collections in university research libraries. A recent CIC meeting on preservation and access implications of shared print repository produced a very productive, on-demand, meeting.

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