Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The END of Associations

Hold your ground!....I see in your eyes, the same fear that would take the heart of me.  The day may come when the courage of men fails.  When we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day!  An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of men comes crashing down...but it IS NOT THIS DAY.....Aragorn - The Return of the King

Ok, it's a little dramatic.  I'll give you that.

But I have had it up to here with the constant barrage of negativity in our association community.  All the navel gazing we are doing over the question of our relevance is exhausting me.

Relevance is not the answer, but neither is radical reinvention. Is this truly the end? Only if by END you mean - Education, Networking, Democracy

At the END of the day, associations are here:

  • to ensure individuals have access to the training, education and networking they need to find a good job, provide for their families and live a good life. 
  • to defend the middle class from the incursions of poverty and decline
  • to ensure our collective voices are not drowned out by big money in the democratic process
  • to lead the charge on changing our industries and professions for the better, and 
  • to create a sustainable future.

Are these ideas truly outdated? Are we too cool now to care about jobs and education?  Has democracy really become passe? Is the sustainability movement somehow not our problem? I submit to you these ideas are more important than ever.  When did we stop actively working on these critical issues and start wandering in this buzzword infested wilderness instead?

We didn't lose our relevance - we lost our way.

Are we really facing extinction? I, for one, am not buying it. I believe that in the END, our quest for clarity can be found. We actually have more opportunities now to create positive solutions to complex problems than we have ever had before. We have to get serious about reinventing how we deliver education, community and advocacy - not reinventing who we are.

The only thing that will ensure associations become irrelevant is the constant questioning about whether they are or not.

So this day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West! 

Here is the link for those who can't see the embedded video.


  1. The relevance conversation has never been about extinction. It's been about making sure we don't fall asleep at the wheel and wake up to find that our influence has been diminished by competitive forces that are challenging associations like never before.



About This Blog

This blog explores my interpretation of association management theory as seen through the lens of popular culture and media.

I am a media child whose Sundays were spent feverishly listening to Casey Kasem "countin' em down" and earnestly promoting my dubious babysitting skills to those neighborhood parents who had MTV. Star Wars was less a "movie" than a watershed event forever hooking me on cinema and imdb.com is my "Bartlett's" in terms of quotations. Required reading = Rolling Stone.

All of these loves/events/obsessions color how I see the world and how I see my work. I am betting I am not the only Executive Director who was listening to Ratt on the way to the interview (you know who you are, time to get out of the closet!). Yeah, association work is serious work and I've spent two decades immersed in it - but there is life outside of the board meeting so let's play with how they intersect.....Ready? Set? GO!

Brothers, Sisters...Come Together!