Tuesday, July 7, 2015

End of an Era: What Does It Mean for Associations?

Various association professionals have been commenting and discussing on whether millennials and Generation Z will impact the future of associations.

One “side” talks about the huge possible impact from two totally different groups (Millennials & Gen Z),while the other “side” states that people – no matter what generation – need associations.

As a college junior, I participated in an “field trip” of Chicago that included stopping at the Chicago Board of Trade. As an executive of the American Soybean Association, I participated in several meetings at the Board and with leaders of the Chicago Board.

So, it was interesting when I read the USA Today article headlined, “End of An Era as Chicago Pit Trading Ceases.”

The Board of Trade is an “association-like” entity that has existed for more than 170 years. While its trading functions remain, technology – not generations – have curtailed the outcry trading system.

This change – to me – illustrates the multiple challenges associations face over the next 10-15 years.
  • Part is generational. 
  • Part is technological. 
  • Part is the challenge to continue evolving. And, in fact, the function of the Chicago Board of Trade remains, it is only its public outcry system that is going away.
As we worked with our clients, we often shared with them a quote I heard years ago (that is often attributed to Henry Ford) ...

“If you always do what you've always done,
you'll always get what you’ve always got.”

This advice seems to fit regardless of where you are on the discussion of the impact of the retirement of Boomers and advancement of Millennials and Generation Z.

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