Sunday, March 3, 2013

3 Steps Association Boards & Executives Can Learn from Driver’s Ed

Moving eyes from close (left), far (center) and rear (right) helps drivers and associations
While driving a crowded street the other day, I was thinking about the lessons of my driver’s education class from high school.

The instructor shared a “3-step process” for driving with our eyes:

  1. look at the road just in front of you
  2. look up high to see the road way out ahead of you
  3. look in the review mirror to see what is coming behind you

These three rules are pretty good for association leadership.


Whether you call it environmental scanning or market research or benchmarking, you should use all three steps to provide executive leadership and guide your association board’s work.

Step 1: Look just ahead. See what is happening now. Make needed adjustments to impact your short term goals. Just as you do to avoid an auto accident, be flexible enough to adjust to immediate needs.

Step 2: Aim high. Look far into the horizon to see what is happening that might impact you. Look for trends, opportunities, threats. Just as when you are driving your car, if you see challenges coming, you can help your association adjust.

Step 3: Take a quick look in your organization’s rear view mirror. Not so much as to see where you’ve been but to see what is coming up behind you. For an association, this helps identify competitors as well as seek potential escape routes in the event of danger.

To be successful, you need to keep your eyes moving through all three steps. Accidents happen when you focus on only one view. 

This column titled “Cable’s is taking the fast train to oblivion” helps illustrate an industry that is too focused on the short-term and not seeing the longer view.  

Is your association using all three views in its environmental scanning. Are you urging your boards to look near, high and behind as your association focuses on its operations?

Our association boards valued this type of environmental scanning as a tool to keep moving forward. 

Are you?

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