Association Transformation

The emerging trends and priorities in 2023

January 22, 2023 Brewer Pratt Solutions & Elevated LLC Season 4 Episode 67
Association Transformation
The emerging trends and priorities in 2023
Show Notes Transcript

What are the emerging trends and priorities impacting membership bodies in 2023? Elisa and Andrew take a look at the challenges and opportunities which they suggest leadership teams should be exploring in the year ahead.

Unknown:

Well, hello, good morning, Mr. Andrew Chamberlain. How are you?

Andrew Chamberlain:

I'm good. Liz. How are you? Good morning.

Unknown:

I am well I'm Well, welcome to the second episode of association transformation. 2023. Excited. He's here in the new year.

Andrew Chamberlain:

Season Four. I just wanted to just this season for season four we've just started. Wow. Yeah. Wow. Yes, I know, I just want to just say that because it's like, this gentleman says like, we know a lot of stuff that you know, we don't I mean, we

Unknown:

keep we keep showing up. And you know, people keep joining us we keep winning awards. I mean, this is you know, nothing to snub your nose at Association transformation is the place to be. And maybe all the more appropriate as we embark on our fourth season to take a look back. Yes, this was today's our opportunity to look back and and share lessons learned from 2022. And maybe make a few predictions here at the beginning of the year. For for 2023. So we can hold ourselves accountable next year and see how full of crap we are. Yeah, I do have one. I do have one prediction that I'm pretty confident in. Well, that's the Chicago Bears will absolutely not God be in the Super Bowl anytime soon.

Andrew Chamberlain:

God, God, don't even get me started. You know, when you message me on a Sunday, and you say, and you'll give me an I have to tell you don't tell me the score, because I'm gonna watch it tomorrow morning. Why don't you message me back and tell me not to bother watching it on a Monday?

Unknown:

Because you told me not to tell you. It's so depressing.

Andrew Chamberlain:

Every game we lose by about four or five points. It's

Unknown:

sorry, I'm sorry. Well, you know, okay, so in addition to disappointments of the 2022, NFL season, I found a lot of disappointments, surprises, points of optimism in the association landscape of 2022. I thought we could share with each other some, some aha moments or lessons learned from these these last 12 months?

Andrew Chamberlain:

Yeah, I think I think you know, just generally speaking, I think it's quite I think it is quite easy the wrong word. straightforward to really pinpoint some highs into a tool. But I also think equally, when I reflect on what, you know, the way the sector, the way the industry sort of move throughout the EU, I think there's some real for me some worrying lows. Absolutely. And that's, that's, you know, great to celebrate the highs. Let's do that. Let's talk about the good stuff, of course. But I am a little bit concerned as we start 2023 I don't quite have the same level of optimism I had into it as a start at 22.

Unknown:

Well, you know, well, one of us has to be the optimist. I already claimed the pessimist. I'm the glass half.

Andrew Chamberlain:

I know. And this is it. So this is me being optimistic.

Unknown:

Oh, this is you being optimistic. Oh, dear. Okay. All right. Well, then let's talk about some positives. I definitely got the sense not only from my own experience, but that of colleagues and clients that 2022 we were back to full speed. The year felt like it flew by the nature of busyness and travel and the speed of of life seemed to be back full speed ahead. And, and as uncertain as things may have been, it was it was full speed ahead.

Andrew Chamberlain:

Yeah, definitely. Definitely. I think those kinds of the worries that we experienced in the previous years about, you know, will member will mean will membership survive. Actually, I think those were probably dis were dispelled because you're right. And I think for me, that kind of the, what really epitomise that dark energy was, when we spoke in August about the ASAE conference in Nashville, you know, you went it was just pumping. It was just absolutely jumping down. It wasn't not just a thrill, but it was just people just wanted it needed and the people

Unknown:

who say Oh my gosh, the hunger the hunger for in person. Yeah. i From what I understood and heard anecdotes of people brought their meetings back in person after two years off two years virtual and there was such a push, you know, record numbers and and groups and communities and societies coming back together in person and there was just such a hunger and appetite for human connection. Getting back together.

Andrew Chamberlain:

Yeah, but you Fantastic when we spoke a couple of weeks ago with Laurie paska, from the National Council of Social Studies, and they were saying, you know, you know, cultivating community is such a big one of their strategic themes. I would say that's pretty much true of everybody, you know, the cultivate in the community has is no, I think that people who when I think communities were nurtured throughout 2020 2122, I really saw it grow. So community really come back with a big bang, not just obtaining our numbers, but actually grow in our communities was a real, there was a real energy around that. And I love that. And I hope to see that continue.

Unknown:

Now, the flip side of that, if we're going to put our pessimist hats on, I was saddened and disappointed by some of the disastrous hybrid experiences, I know coming out of COVID. You know, and having gone virtual, and and done, you know, live feeds and and all of it, that you can't walk back from that you can't take that away from your membership per se. But I know so many organisations and clients that really struggled to put on both an in person and then a virtual experience for for their members trying to be accessible, trying to extend the exposure of their events and their their programmes to a large audience and offer both both formats. It's expensive, it's hard to do both right. And I just don't think 2022 was, it didn't get us to where I thought we would be?

Andrew Chamberlain:

Well, I mean, I think we should walk back from it. I think we shouldn't back from it, I think you say you can't walk back from it. But actually, you know, I remember way back in the day series, season one, where you were talking, quite rightly, about sacrificing those sacred cows. And, you know, to me, I'm a little bit concerned that hybrid is a sacred cow, potentially, or could be viewed as a sacred cow. And it's not, it's just an old nag that just needs

Unknown:

to hop your centre, sleep, you know, it just needs to be because you're sending hybrid to the glue factory.

Andrew Chamberlain:

It doesn't work. Yeah, I'm sending hybrid physical. In fact, if this was, I don't know, in the UK, we used to this programme called room 101, where people, you'd have celebrities, and they would like, talk about the things they would want to put into room 101 All the stuff that didn't like and for me hybrid is one of those things doesn't work. Digital, have digital experiences definitely have in person experiences, definitely. But the mashup, it's like some awful episode of Glee sometimes when you're going out with these, these hybrid events, you know, as as as sort of renders mash up, it doesn't work. And so do what both from it do.

Unknown:

It's not that I think you're right. I mean, there was some nuance in what you said, and I agree that you can't walk back from from virtual as a standalone as either on demand, you know, a virtual recording an archive of live events, or virtual specific and online digital webinars and courses and things of that to increase accessibility, to increase the equity of your offerings. But yeah, trying to do them at the same time. You know, live broadcasts of in person events, we have to stop pretending that we can ever deliver an in person experience and a virtual experience that are the same. Yeah. That that's, I mean, if anything else, 2022 taught us that that's not possible.

Andrew Chamberlain:

And I would gladly welcome any listener who is able to prove us wrong, I would gladly welcome and be proved wrong. I would love to see, I would love someone to come on. And so actually, our, you know, our events team, and our digital team combined. And we did this amazing, you know, amazing. I mean, it's got to be slick. Yeah.

Unknown:

My first question would be What was your budget? Yeah, well, yes, that, you know, if you don't have the money to blow this out of the water, then I would say don't don't try do do them separately, as best you can. But hybrid is dangerous. Hybrid is a trap. And I think it sets a lot of staff up for extreme stress, extreme budget, overage and, and a lot of member disappointment.

Andrew Chamberlain:

But I think the digitization of the industry, I think we saw progress in last year, and I think that's the the, which I think was driven by that need to have virtual experience on it. But I've seen that in 22, I saw a much more sophisticated understanding. I may not yet have seen the realisation of people's efforts quite fully yet, but I'm really when I when I'm sitting around with board tables, and I'm sure it's the same with you when you sit around with boards of directors or senior management team senior leadership teams. There is now a very definite acceptance, understanding, willingness and desire, you know, gone through those stages of oh, we've got to do it to actually what not this is how this is the world in which we all know operate. This really strong,

Unknown:

maybe this is one of the few areas where COVID has out of necessity evolved us to a better place. And that's the digitization, the on demand virtual platform and access of value and programming and education, that associations and nonprofits are so vital for AI. On the other hand, I've see so, so many organisations rolling backwards. Now that, you know, we're post COVID Now that things are, quote, unquote, back to normal. There, it's like they've forgotten how to be nimble, and they've forgotten how to innovate, and they've forgotten how to push change, and they almost are just exhaling and they're comfortable going back to the muscle memory and what they were before and almost relieved to be there.

Andrew Chamberlain:

Well, but that's, yeah. And, and I understand why not that it's not an excuse, because I understand the reason why, because it's comfortable. When people are, you know, people aren't tired people are, you know, a generally a, you know, everybody in the industry is feeling tired, not just, you know, the end of the year, but just genuinely, I think the end of very, of several very difficult years. And so I understand that kind of, lets go back to our comfort zone, because we can almost cruise on autopilot, as it were, I agree with you, I agree on I've seen it as well, where that comfort zone is a little bit too comfortable. It's a little bit too familiar. And we've pushed ourselves pushed ourselves pushed ourselves to the point when actually, we're tired mentally, as well, as you know, in terms of resource thin. So let's go back to what we know and what worked well. And that, for me is really the nub of where I'm feeling particularly worried for 23 is that if I kind of

Unknown:

one this is this is I mean, maybe you can help me understand this i I see the world more aware of and willing to talk about mental health and balance and you know, the new the new realities of work and remote and prioritising vacation and yet at the same time, as much as that's a part of our lexicon more than ever before. I like you and 2022 saw more burnout than ever, ever,

Andrew Chamberlain:

because I think not just the lessons of pandemic or being forgotten. I think generally immuno, if you think about that, like I said, the stuff that we started talking about three years ago, when we started recording this pond, we were talking about, you know, beaten the need to be nimble, need to be efficient, they need to be flexible, responsive, not reactive, the need to be to sacrifice those sacred codes to be focused on the one thing you do amazingly well. And yet, you know, those were lessons that people weren't learning. Right, always. And none of that is still true. All of that is still true. And I think one of the things I've had a lot with clients recently, and I've had to say to clients COVID is a convenient smokescreen now. It's done. It's done. I don't know it happened. Yeah, lots of fallout from it lots of residual impacts on our businesses, boss just now, that's just business as usual. So let's stop using the pandemic as a smokescreen to hide or to use it as an excuse for deficiencies in some of our other practices.

Unknown:

One certainly not deficiencies that continue if you're talking about a blip on the screen in 2020, or 2021. It is definitely use it as an a context for for a data point. But you're right, it can't continue to be a crutch. I think the phrase smokescreen is perfect, it can't continue to be part of your, your your fear or your hesitation or your your limiting of expectations because of because of COVID impact. You're right that that is over and, you know, when we talk about 2023 predictions, you know, I don't want to be the sky is falling pessimist but this year in terms of economics and recession and all of it I mean, there could be as much risk financial risk in the future in the cards for organisations this year as there was during COVID

Andrew Chamberlain:

more. I think more because I actually think the same more. We are in more uncertain. socio economic times then we were at least two, two years ago or three years ago. We were all in the same boat or we were all sinking in the same boat but we were all trying to work it out together. There was a global skill, there was collaboration, while now socio economic circumstances or this political circumstances are thus, that it's an incredibly uncertain period that we're now working in. And it's not COVID related.

Unknown:

Oh, my God, this is we're getting really depressing. We should do this as a drinking, we should do this as a drinking episode next time.

Andrew Chamberlain:

These are the things that I talk about when I'm with boards, you know, these are the large macro scale issues that are impacting our businesses. And you come

Unknown:

in in like a hood and a sickle, like, do you?

Andrew Chamberlain:

Some of them go in a box? Definitely. But you know, I'm looking back, right, as we're talking, I'm going up on the screen and list of our very, very first podcast, leveraging purposeful abandonment,

Unknown:

still more necessary than ever. And that is actually,

Andrew Chamberlain:

if you look at our pod data, that's still our number one, downloaded download, which is fantastic, because it's utterly, utterly irrelevant, who is a member of 2030 still massively important, engage in the senses and the case for investing in immersive experiences? Absolutely critical. Now, we're

Unknown:

pretty darn relevant,

Andrew Chamberlain:

you know, fast track, fast tracking innovation, right? Okay. Now, we call it leveraging COVID to fast track innovation, but the reality is just leveraging your external circumstances, fill in the blank here to fast track innovation. These are all still highly relevant partnerships, leadership, governance, none of this, none of this that we spoke about was unique to COVID. At the time, we contextualised it, because that's what was going on. But the reality is, as we started 2023, all of these are still utterly, utterly irrelevant. And they're not issues that are necessarily seeing, always a willingness for people to want to discuss,

Unknown:

no, they're not easy. And that's our commitment to our association transformation audiences that we will, we will rip the band aid off, we will take on these topics and be the ones to start some of these conversations. When I think about where organisations are at the beginning of this new year, I find a lot of my clients in a lot of associations to to need that purposeful and strategic abandonment more than ever before. Because coming through the last three years, they were afraid to say no, they said yes, they added things, they took what they originally had, they added more to it, they added the virtual the hybrid, the extra this the extra that to try to make everyone happy during this time of disruption during this time where membership was being questioned and value was being more harshly evaluated. And now organisations have overgrown gardens, more so than ever before. They now have these duplicity, these double menus, they're, they're competing with their themselves, they're doing more they're chasing more they're, I just think an evaluation of what is aligned with your mission, where you can be a superstar, you know, what are those fewer things that you can do best? Not better? Best? And how can you then sunset the rest? So many organisations are going to drown under the weight of their own benefits menu?

Andrew Chamberlain:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I'm sitting thinking, I'm just trying to think of the company and my current sort of slate of clients, and a couple of them, I'm looking at it thinking, you know, who's buying this stuff? Oh, well,

Unknown:

the unsustainable

Andrew Chamberlain:

is, and it's, you know, and it's always the same. It's like, was this you know, this 10 or 20 or 30. Members you like, out of how many crawl percentages, not even full percentage of members that we respond well, that, arguably we react into. And it's, it's, it's it, and like I say, I think the smokescreen now is being lifted, and we can't hide from it anymore. And I think when I think about 2023, you know, we have to say, you know, it's true, we are in the turbulent 20s That's an understatement. Suddenly, I saw somebody coined that phrase in 2019, you notice, is it going to be the turbulent 20s? Well, isn't understatement. But you know, I think, you know, not we can't navigate the turbulence simply by by Lee and more and more and more weighing ourselves down is not to ensure that we don't topple over. Right.

Unknown:

It's yeah, so when you think about 2023, what, what would your predictions be for for this, you know, the association community and some of some of your clients. I mean, I either aspirational or realistic, what's what's a 2023 prediction that you have?

Andrew Chamberlain:

I think, I think one of them is really interesting. I think if I look at them as sort of themes, if you like, I think people and culture is going to really emerge as a priority for organising as in as it as associations as employers. Yes, I think you guys, you know, we, quite rightly, you know, we spent a lot of time talking about the members. But just as you would expect any business to talk about its customer focused on his customers, but also to recognise its resources and its assets, ie the people who work for that business. I think we really are going to see this come to a head in 2023. Where this this, this lien on, have more and more expectation responsibility from leadership is going to come into explicit conflict with employee expectation, when we had that pod, we recorded that pod back in, I think, November, where we spoke about the four day week, we spotted the Royal Society of biology talking about pretty much going to do it, you know, it's, you know, the four day week is, it's real. You know, you mentioned earlier on, you know, flexible work and remote work. And, you know, these, you know, and actually, as we see the big corporates, you know, what did I read yesterday about Twitter and someone else,

Unknown:

they're all rolling back their firing and their,

Andrew Chamberlain:

to them and look what's happening to them. Shareholder confidence is shaken. Employees deciding to walk away, you know, I think people are becoming more as staff, as staff, we are becoming more aware of the value that we give the author of the association, and therefore, our value within the association is becoming more understood and more clearly pronounced. And as leaders as boards, we need to recognise that. And I think I think if I think back to our Gosh, when did we talk about? I'm trying to think when did we talk about the great resignation? When was that because that's our second most listened to podcast. Okay,

Unknown:

it's still so relevant. Now. There's the resignation, there's the silent, quitting, quitting? Yeah. And I think it all rolls into the new reality of work that burnout piece, and how much we're trying to take on the expectations that we need to manage not only with our membership, but the focus and prioritisation, we need to have, you know, a lot of this, I think was enabled because of the market. The market spikes during 2020 2021 year after the initial drop, everyone's portfolios went gangbusters during, you know, during that second half of COVID, as things recovered. And then, you know, we started to see the downturn in a crazy market year in 2022. And you saw boards start to pull back as those investment accounts and those reserves started to shrink up their stomach for and their willingness to continue investing in innovation, and evolving and trying new and pushing forward. started to dry up and my fear is that organisations will lose their courage and lose their their willingness to explore risk or to innovate as the 2023 market, economic markets continue to be so volatile. Boards get really tight and really scared when those investment accounts start dropping by double digit digit percentiles.

Andrew Chamberlain:

Yes. Yeah, understandably,

Unknown:

they do. So that's that's a fear I have for 2023. You know, I also have a maybe bold prediction. I am predicting that the new Indiana Jones movie that's coming out in this summer is going to be bad.

Andrew Chamberlain:

Um, I don't think that's a bold prediction. The prediction, I think, as a prediction. Yeah. Yeah. I think yeah, yeah, I think you've caught me off balance now. Because I don't know what else is coming. We're

Unknown:

ready for my nerd my nerd prediction. Are you such a nerd?

Andrew Chamberlain:

Honestly, I have something really good to say then you're just completely cool. Honestly. Yeah.

Unknown:

Do you have a nerd prediction? Do you have a nerd prediction?

Andrew Chamberlain:

No, because you're the nude. I'm not good. God. You're

Unknown:

right. You're the cool kid.

Andrew Chamberlain:

I am you just Yeah, you can't You're the one who dressed up like a bloomin Jedi from my Star Wars thing a couple of years ago.

Unknown:

You know what may the fifth is a legitimate does anyone know what the fourth sorry, may the fifth is my wedding anniversary. All right, so maybe I'm a fraudulent nerd. Okay, fine. Fine, but, you know, 2023 is gonna have some exciting things. I think if nothing else, in the sense of in in terms of optimism, I believe that because of what We've survived because of what we've been through, I have more confidence in our ability to make it in our ability to get through and to continue to deliver relevance to our members to our audiences. I mean, if we if we've made it this far, it means we can, it means that there is a durability and a sincerity to our missions and our visions that push us forward no matter what the circumstances.

Andrew Chamberlain:

I'm not there yet. I'm not. I need to have this conversation this time next year, as we're talking about 24. Before I am convinced that that's the case.

Unknown:

So you're assuming 2024 is like the it's the horizon? It's it's the you're trying to just get to 2024?

Andrew Chamberlain:

No, no, what I'm seeing is you're seeing you're seeing the you know, we've all we've demonstrated our durability, but I'm not convinced we have, I think we've demonstrated our ability to survive, which is not the same thing at all. Okay, and so I think this year is the year where we, where we see organisations demonstrate their durability. And for me, for me, and I really want to focus on our pods this year. For me, that is very much about leadership. I have in the latter, in the latter months of 22, I saw some incredibly poor examples are actually some very good examples of poor leadership, and your poor leadership to the to the detriment of, you know, the membership body's long term success. And so for me, I'm not yet convinced. And, you know, you'll forgive me for saying the demise after 90 years, the demise of the Institute of leadership, the Institute of association leadership, rather, has left a bitter taste in my mouth at the moment.

Unknown:

It's sad, it's a sad, symbolic reality.

Andrew Chamberlain:

Yeah, no. Yeah. And I think that that is leaving a big open question mark, for me about the durability piece. So again, I want to be I want to be I want someone I want to don't want us to have this conversation next year. And you tell me what I told you. So that's what I want to have. I'm

Unknown:

going to tell you that whether I'm right or not less anyway, but let's commit to each other and let's commit to the association transformation audience that we will go out and find the best examples of what's possible, what's happened and bring those voices and those leaders and anecdotes and examples to to the microphone this year. Let's do it. Alright, go get them Tiger.

Andrew Chamberlain:

All right. Okay, that's so Okay, so I'm going to do that now. Okay, well I'm

Unknown:

I'm that's how I suddenly tasked you with all that but no, thank you so much to great podcast to kick off the year. Very excited. Again, Elisa Pratt Brewer Pratt solutions here your your favourite co host, the nerd of the house. And Andrew Chamberlain. Elevated. How are you? Are you okay? You're still with me here. I'm trying to thank you. I'm gonna stand I'm not even paying attention. I'm

Andrew Chamberlain:

I'm I am. I'm already scouring the interwebs for for guests.

Unknown:

All right, we're doing our best. We're gonna do our best for you. Andrew will do even better. He'll work harder. He'll try to be better be fair,

Andrew Chamberlain:

calm too much bliss.

Unknown:

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us on this episode of association transformation. Reach out. Let us know any thoughts you have for topics or if you are one of these inspirational leaders and would love to share your story. Please reach out you can find Association transformation wherever you get your podcasts. Make us one of your favourites. And until next time, put your members and your mission first.