The Reverse Flow of Future Organizational Development within Associations

August 19, 2008 at 10:43 pm Leave a comment

As associations, I belive the time is fast approaching, if not already here, to begin turning our organizations upside down.  To the CFOs and Board members out there, take a deep breath as this isn’t what it might sound like.

Traditionally, the development of formal organizational structure often began as a Board mandate to create a particular layer or level of organizational bureaucracy.  Leaders were identified, appointed and charged with the responsibility of creating a critical mass.  Staff typically join in this process as well.  By its very nature, traditional association structure carries the air of exclusivity for its strong reliance on established networks of insiders to manage the work.  Newcomers have always faced a daunting journey into the inner core. 

Moving toward the future, we stand on the brink of a greatly improved method not only to build organizational structure but to do so with expanded participation, self-identification and inclusivity which translates into ownership, engagement and loyalty.  Thanks to the rise of social networking and media, new groups will emerge on the strength of their own shoulders organically.  Communities of Practice become an incubator for expanded organizational structure.  Even more, smaller and more narrow niches can reach a critical mass largely without the need for staff resources.  On the other end of the spectrum, emerging specialities and focus areas can hone mass participation into formal organizational structure without.

In essence, our associations stand the chance to become true member-driven democracies, making participation, volunteerism and cohesion between like-minded members easier than ever.  To get there, the governing mentality of associations must reverse its conception of the way their organizations are grown.   We must plant the seeds, step out of the way and see what grows.  We cannot be afraid of loosening control.  SM

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Entry filed under: Organizational Management.

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