Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Who will create the Fosbury Flop for Associations?

Photo of Courtney Anderson of University of South Florida

A photo of a high jumper in the NCAA finals sent my mind drifting back to the early 1960s.

Prior to 1965, the "best practice" in the high jump track & field event was the straddle jump.


Then, along came Dick Fosbury.

Given the new technology (deep foam matting had replaced sand pits as the landing area), Fosbury ignored the old best practice for high jumping and created what became known as the Fosbury Flop. He first used it in 1965. Then he won the gold medal in the 1968 Summer Olympics.

The rest is history. The flop became the dominant style of the event and remains so today. In fact, this new “best practice” for the high jump is so dominant most people no longer call it the Fosbury Flop.


High Jumps & Associations


It seems as though associations are in the position that Dick Fosbury and high jumpers were in back in the mid 1960s.

Advancing changes in technology and generational changes offer association executives the opportunity to experiment with new ways of doing association work.

If the association community clings to the old “best practices,” it faces the possibility of a Dick Fosbury creating an entirely new way of doing association business.

What can association leaders do?


  1. Monitor ongoing trends within the association community ... what are other associations doing differently?
  2. Look for trends/ideas beyond the association community ... what changes are effecting our members and potential members?
  3. Experiment with new programs, services, practices. See the video of Mary Byers, CAE, interview with Dr. Robert Meiches, CEO of the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA), about the organization’s decision to suspend its House of Delegates until 2016 so that the organization can pilot a new governance structure focused on developing additional ways to engage members.  
What is your association doing? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comment box at www.scdgroup.net.

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