Wednesday, February 5, 2014

CalSAE Association Executives Name 6 Big Trends for 2014

Things are going great...
and they're only gettin' better
I'm doin' all right
Gettin' good grades
The future's so bright
I gotta wear shades......Timbuk 3

I am lucky enough to get to play along with the California Society of Association Executives (CalSAE) IDEAL(TM) learning laboratory.  Recently we sat down and spent five hours digging through 2014 trends, running a context map exercise and coming up with what these awesome association executives think are the top 6 association trends for 2014.  Read on!


This force is driving all aspects of your association’s membership experience, i.e., membership itself, professional development programming, communications, etc.. Associations must boil each experience down into digestible chunks, place those chunks in an easy to understand and access sequence and give members a way to demonstrate they performed/understood/accomplished specific chunks.  Call it Hansel and Gretel association management - leave that bread crumb trail out and your members will be able to find the gingerbread house.

Impatience and Immediate Gratification

The overall impatience of society in general is contributing to a disturbing trend in associations.  In 2014, you can expect to see more interpersonal conflicts among staff members, board members and volunteer leaders.  However, general impatience is also leading to innovations in terms of providing members with experiences that are highly personalized and compressing the time it takes to volunteer with or interact with your association. Micro-volunteering is a “trend within a trend” and is a direct response to this larger societal condition.


People are overwhelmed by change, technological advances and an increasing flood of cultural noise.  A renewed focus on helping members be mindful, peaceful and centered is a way to help combat the stresses of the world and help them feel safe and more secure with themselves and with each other.  Additionally, the intense focus on community has been omnipresent in the association community over the past few years but now there there is an increasing realization that members need to be recognized and honored as individuals as well.  In our zeal to create collaborative experiences, we sometimes overlook providing opportunities for solitude and to create space for introverts to excel in our association structures.


This force is driving several conditions within associations and the educational system itself. The days of simply “picking topics people are interested in,” are rapidly being replaced by an impatient constituency that wants to know what competency they should be developing, how your program gets them there and how their peers will recognize their accomplishment.  A bachelor’s degree doesn’t tell anyone anything about what an individual actually knows and neither do some certification programs.  Chunking, impatience and competence are driving the badging movement in the K-12, post-secondary and workforce development arenas and creating new opportunties for associations.


External and internal localities continue to create disruption for both communities and individuals. Globalization is accelerating with no end in sight, while at the same time individuals are acutely aware of the need to improve their immediate surroundings and circumstances. There is a dynamic tension created between this sense of connection with the larger global community and reacting to global economic and workforce shifts, while at the same time providing members with tools and ideas to use and apply in the direct vicinity of their daily lives.


The last decade was the decade of social and this is the decade of gaming. Far from being a “fad,” game mechanics have been a key social innovation from the beginning of human civilization. Gaming is related to learning, developing trust and social cohesion.  Serious games are being used to explore all manner of complex, wicked problems. Running scenarios are a great way to test out potential solutions before the conditions present themselves allowing for quicker action when they do. Gaming mechanics include keys for membership, professional development, participation and engagement for your members, volunteers and staff alike.

There you have it....6 Big Trends for 2014 in the association community.  Stay tuned for more on these coming soon!  Do you see a big trend that we missed?  If so, please put it in the comments, we'd love to hear from you!


  1. Shelly, I think you would really love the work of Dr Jason Fox who I recently saw speak here in Sydney on his new book Gamechanger - check him out.

  2. Robert - Thank you so much! I will definitely check him out! Hope things are going well for you!


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