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Vision 2000.

Roughly 22 months ago the American Society of Association Executives assumed the challenge of visioning - rethinking what the organization is about - with determination and curiosity, perhaps with even a little skepticism.

Thanks to ASAE's members and leadership, our efforts are paying off generously. The brainstorming process itself, which already has involved 800 members in more than a dozen meetings, has been both reconfirming and revelatory.

Ideas came tumbling out of the ASAE visioning that would have surfaced slowly, if ever, in conventional long-range planning. One value articulated through ASAE's visioning is the importance of better integrating associate members - our suppliers - into ASAE's educational and governance process. Another is the need to galvanize ASAE's allied societies structure to provide grass-root government relationships activities.

Visioning stimulated the opportunities for broad input and created the forum in which these and other values were freely expressed.

Still more member response to the vision is now being sought. Members of the ASAE Board of Directors are using a slide presentation to explain the vision and a questionnaire to gain member response from a groups throughout the country. The results of these efforts will be provided to the ASAE Planning Committee, which has the responsibility of using the results from the visioning process to revise ASAE's strategic plan.

The visioning process has been spontaneous and member driven from the outset. The result will be significant changes in ASAE's direction, based on the thinking of hundreds of members. For many of these members, this is their first opportunity to participate in determining ASAE's future.

That simple statement defines the yearlong iterative and inclusive process that the American Society of Association Executives undertook to reinvent itself to better meet the opportunities of the 21st century. The visioning activity was led by 1990-91 ASAE Chairman Kathryn E. Johnson, CAE, president and chief executive officer of the Healthcare Forum, San Francisco. Through visioning sessions at ASAE board, council, section, and committee meetings, some 800 volunteer leaders took part in the process. ASAE's new vision is "to be a worldwide leader and catalyst in inspiring association executives and their organizations to build and renew society." And it lead logically into ASAE's mission, "to promote excellence in association management and to work to increase the effectiveness of associations worldwide to better serve members and society."

Challenges for the 1990s

To fulfill the mission and realize the vision, obviously ASAE must capitalize on opportunities and overcome barriers. Clearly identifies trends for the 1990s will, in and of themselves, radically alter the way associations do business. In fact, the very term business as usual will likely no longer be usable in an era when the only constant is change. Some of the contributing factors to that change were identified by particulars in the visioning process (see sidebar, "Winds of Change").

Given these trends, what are just a few of the barriers facing ASAE and all associations in the 1990s? * possible loss of not-for-profit privileges such as tax-exempt status or subsidized postal rates; * competition - such as splintering, regionalization, or competition from for-profit organizations - that will dilute the focus of the national organization; * inability to keep in touch with rapidly changing technology; * uncertainty about how to respond to societal and environmental issues; * decline in volunteerism; and * increase in member attrition caused by our ineffectiveness in understanding the shifting needs and desires of members.

It was within the context of change and the potential dangers to associations as we know them that ASAE undertook the highly participatory visioning process with one overarching objective: that ASAE and the association community remain actively involved participants in shaping the results of change, rather than becoming casualties of change.

Scrutiny brings reaffirmation

Where will ASAE find its strength and potential for achieving value and growth? The participants predict that with vision ASAE can turn threats into opportunities.

They agree that in the 1990s, society will be in need of leadership and ASAE can assist in filling that void. Global changes, telecommunication technology, education, and training: All are arena in which ASAE can excel and guide. Increased competition can motivate ASAE forge joint ventures and partnerships to both support and integrate the influence others. And it can empower ASAE to exert its own influence in building understanding and respect to associations, worldwide; in increasing our visibility and viability; and in solving social and economic problems.

To ensure these outcomes, a relatively new process - used at the time by fewer than 200 organizations - was undertaken. In the September 1990 issue of Association Management, visioning expert Michael Doyle explains that "organizational visioning augments more traditional planning methods. It explores such hard-to-answer questions as these: * What is the essence of the association? * What are its core values? * What does it do best, and how does that relate to what the world needs? * How can the organization really make a difference in the lives of its members and in society?

"In short . . . visioning is a comment to rethinking and reviewing the organization . . . . Creating an inspiring vision energizes members and builds their investment in the organization by helping them contribute to a purpose larger than themselves."

The outcomes

After evaluating massive amounts of data related to the threats, the societal shifts, and the potential opportunities, participants in the visioning process identified the core values of ASAE and the strategic thrusts for ASAE in the future. These fundamental precepts form the center of the vision.

Core values

Visions are values projected into the future, and core values - at the heart of the organization - are integral to defining what it can become. Visioners identified these ASAE core values: * helping association executives reach their fullest potential, * promoting volunteerism as a force for positive change; * inspiring associations to effectively link self-interest and public interest; * valuing and encouraging diversity; * changing lifelong learning and development; * promoting environmental and global sensitivity to the needs of a healthy environment; * recognizing and nurturing innovation, new thinking, and outstanding practices; and * acknowledging and honoring the leadership impact of associations on society.

With these core values clearly in mind, it is possible to look at where ASAE can really make a difference in the lives of both its members and society. The result of that discussion is the articulation of 10 strategic thrusts that underpin the vision.

Strategic thrusts

1. Providing leadership: ASAE is a leader in improving the effectiveness and championing the interests of voluntary associations in the world. ASAEm inspires new models for the field by identifying and demonstrating best practice; serving as a state-of-the-art marketplace for ideas that empower individuals, associations, and members; and being the comprehensive source for the programs and services needed by associations. In the process, ASAE defines the comprehencies of the ideal association and association executive. We continue to foster the evolution of both by providing cutting-edge ideas. Our issues management program recognizes and articulates major changes in the values of society at large and creates the connection between those changes and our members by showing associations how they can increase their positive affect on our society. 2. Promoting volunteerism: ASAE promotes volunteerism as a positive force for societal change and renewal. As a result of our efforts, the United States enters a new age of volunteerism, unparalleled in scope and impact. ASAE increases the visibility and recognition of associations and the contributions of millions of volunteers to improve society and educates government and society about the vital contributions they make collectively. ASAE's Associations Advance America program is the key vehicle both to promote volunteerism as a positive force for societal change and to increase the visibility of these efforts with the association community. 3. Influencing public policy: ASAE strives to enhance the effectiveness, credibility, and image of associations. ASAE also increases its legislative activity on issues that directly impact association executives and the associations they represent as a community. ASAE helps shape public policy within the context of what is in the public's best interest. Associations are the key strategists advising government, corporations, and educational institutions. Acting as consensus builders, they help individuals and organizations contribute to a better world. 4. Facilitating member enhancement: ASAE significantly increases its member service and quality. ASAE listens carefully and frequently uses state-of-the-art survey and market research techniques to be more market driven, member/customer focused, and sensitive. ASAE serves as a hole model for all associations, emphasizing continuous quality improvement in all that we do and providing mechanisms through which members can identify use vendors. 5. Providing education and professional development: ASAE enables its stakeholders/members CEOs, association executives, staffs, associates, and volunteers to achieve their full potential. We create new learning pathways, curricula, and courses for our members. Inspired, our members create and lead learning organizations directly involved in the retraining of America. By providing a marketplace of ideas where association executives, suppliers, and volunteer leaders can come together in an integrated way to find solutions, we promote cutting-edge thinking, best practice, and models. We also provide physical and electronic forums for the exchange of ideas, services, products, and solutions. 6. Enhancing our society: ASAE supports the efforts of association executives to increase the socially responsible behavior of the associations they represent. By encouraging the pursuit of both public interest and self-interest, we create a community of associations that help set social, political, and economic agendas. We propose processes that encourage associations to articulate ethical values, promote self-regulation, develop strategies that respond to societal concerns, and take positions on specific social issues. We influence associations worldwide to be more socially and environmentally aware. Our multicultural profile also provides us with a distinctive advantage. Our staffs reflect the diversity of our country's population and because we are highly inclusive, we cultivate and celebrate the best in each individual. 7. Fostering partnership: ASAE forters collaboration and increases synergy with its constituents and partners. ASAE improves communication between itself and association executives, the ASAE Foundation, allied societies, associates members, and volunteer leaders. In turning outward and becoming more collaborative and inclusive, ASAE seeks out and establishes strategic alliances. Such strategic alliance create a valued partner relationship that emphasizes how the strengths of each complement the other. A benefit from such partnerships is that these key stakeholders support the achievement of our objectives and offer ongoing advice and counsel. 8. Championing informational technology: ASAE champions information and communication technologies. Cutting-edge information is the heart of our business, and we capitalize on technology to become an association without walls, accessible to our members 24 hours a day. We help members stay in the front of technology by serving as a bridge and test site for new information and communication tools to better serve members as they serve their own constituents. We define association technology needs and making these need understood by vendors; providing technological leadership; and creating a centralized interactive information resource to allow stakeholders to jointly solve problems, share solutions and resources, and form joint ventures. 9. Embracing globalization: ASAE embraces the global image, role, and effectiveness of associations worldwide. ASAE is internationally focused and acts as a facilitator among associations, helping the leaders of societies of association executives from other countries to better understand the importance of associations. ASAE has global scope and influence as a transnational clearinghouse and testing ground for new ideas. We help place association executives on international economic, social, and education development boards and are founders of an International Federation of Associations. As Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union are democratized, associations play a vital part in the process. 10. Supporting applied research: ASAE leads in futures and action research and is in the vanguard of new thinking. ASAE members benefit from a foundation that is an action-oriented think tank, funded by major grants and endowments, nurturing creativity and acting as a catalyst for innovation that will move us into the second half of the 21st century.

Member involvement

These core values and strategic directions evolved from the ideas of ASAE members. They describe an ASAE that doesn't fully exist yet, but they provide the goals to be used in developing a strategic plan. What will those changes likely be over the next five years? More of everything. More innovation; market research and understanding of member research and understanding of member needs and values; empowerment of ASAE member; enhanced roles of allied, sections, the ASAE Foundation, and associate members; responsiveness to members; emphasis on ethics and socially responsible behavior; collaboration with other groups and emphasis on partnership; emphasis on technology; visibility and name recognition; emphasis on quality; interactive forums, both physical and electronic; international focus; and access to programs and information members need.

A lot of change will be required to make the vision a reality, and the first step is moving the vision into the planning process. That begins by establishing priorities and allocating resources. It is followed by linking the plan of work to the goals of ASAE, then building the methods to monitor the execution of strategy. The process will move through 1992 and be continually evaluated. It is the way the vision will be transformed into a reality that has meaning and impact for all members.

That's what ASAE Vision 2000 is all about - looking beyond today and beginning to manage tomorrow's change. And the reward of successfully managing change is a vision made reality.

Winds of Change

What are the key trends in the 1990s? * Education and training. Education will be a high priority at every level; associations will increasingly become learning organizations; a strategy will be needed for retraining the work force. * Worker shortages. Competition for volunteer time will be even more intense; we will see both increasing specialization and a need for workers with broad-based experience and skills. * Demographic influences. Baby boomers will dominate the workplace; society will become increasingly diverse; entry-level workers will be less well-educated; diversity and an aging population will increase. * An information society. Computers will be easier to use and link together; data superhighways will come into being; information will be increasingly tailored or specialized. * Globalizaion. The economy will continue to become international, and global competition will intensify; associations based in the United States will grapple with foreign ownership of member companies., * Domination of technology. Advances in communication will drive the need to manage the technological explosion; there will be a growing gap between the information haves and have nots. * Size and role of the government. Power will shift to the states; governments will have insufficient money to operate; more public and private partnership will emerge. * Shifts in societal values. A quality revolution, consumer protection, and emphasis on grass roots all will intensify. * Crises facing humankind. We'll continue to experience nuclear threat; a growing gap between industrial and third world countries; breakdowns in morality, education, and literacy; increasingly complex health issues; terrorism and violence; and accelerated change.
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Title Annotation:American Society of Association Executives' brainstorming
Author:Bower, Catherine D.
Publication:Association Management
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Previous Article:Leadership training games.
Next Article:An economy in transition.

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