Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How Often Is Your Association Asking "What if ..."

During her presentation at last week's NE-SAE conference, Shelly Alcorn, CAE, said her appreciative inquiry project with association CEOs lead her to believe that associations need to create a culture for change. (See her book Provocative Proposals for Future Change.)

She urged us to begin imagining answers to big "what if" questions.

Some examples:
  • What if … associations replaced membership with participation and involvement? 
  • What if… associations had access to a pipeline of staff talent composed of individuals who are well-trained, acquainted with the association world and had temperaments conducive to success in this profession? 
  • What if… the CAE or other association credentials were legally bound to common standards of ethics and performance? 
  • What if… associations created a collaborative platform to publicize their achievements and their impact on the public good? 
I agree about asking "What If" questions!

In fact, I would add at least two more questions:
1) What else ...
2) How else ...

Too many boards and staffs stop at the first right answer ... And miss what probably is a better answer if we keep asking.

Which begs me to conclude this blog by asking ... What am I missing? What else should I have added that would stimulate your own thinking helping your board create a culture of change?


  1. Gosh, thanks for the shout out Steve! I like your additional questions about "what else" and "how else"...they add a nice spin!

  2. Thanks Shelly.

    If associations can answer those three key questions before jumping into new projects or services, they would be better. By the way, one question I often use in board strategy sessions is "If our organization did not exist, would we create it and, if so, what would it look like?"