As football season started this past weekend, one commercial jumped out at me (and it wasn’t even the Superbowl!)D

The world of sports isn’t the only one.

Associations Need Creators.

Membership needs more than another long list of benefits. Marketing needs more than another email sent out to the masses, with members tasked to find their value perspective. Meetings have to be more than coffee and pastries followed by a long opening association speech followed by another lecturing keynote followed by long expo hours, then rinse and repeat.

Innovation isn’t a one-off; it comes from intentionally seeding a system, staff and culture of continual reinvention and creation. If we want creators, we need to seek and grow them. We need to recognize both those who are blazing new trails of how we serve members and our industries, as well as their ideas, whether or not they always hit the mark. How do we find creators for our organization?

ASK AND ACKNOWLEDGE

Ask your current staff not to just accept the status quo but to tackle the same old-same old with a fresh lens each cycle. Knowing what is, ask what could be, ask what should be. Form a forum for those ideas and acknowledge those behind them. Empower creators to share those innovations and invest in their pursuit.

HIRE WHO SOMEONE IS, NOT ONLY WHAT THEY DO

Skill sets are essential for any position, but they can also be learned. If you want to see a culture of creation, then prioritize it as a key element in any new hire. Don’t just ask what someone has done, ask how they would approach an opportunity or a hurdle. Before hiring them, offer to pay them as a one day contractor, and bring them in for a day to tackle one issue and work with team members.

INSTILL CREATOR EXPECTATIONS IN VOLUNTEER POSITIONS

Yes, our volunteers are our workforce we could never afford, but they are also our industry visionaries. Within their insights and perspectives lie the blueprints to how an association can be the ultimate community and solution provider for their professionals. Explicitly ask your volunteers to help explore uncharted territory, at once working on what is needed now while creating the pathways to tomorrow.

As the commercial says, “Be the next. Do something different.”

Associations need you.

Lowell Aplebaum, CAE is the CEO and Strategy Catalyst of Vista Cova – a company that partners with organizations on strategic visioning and planning, creating stronger stakeholder connections, and reimagining value and engagement. Lowell frequently provides dynamic sessions to organizations – conducting deep-dive interviews and getting members and volunteers involved through experiential learning approaches. He currently serves as the Chair-Elect for the overseeing commission for the Certified Association Executive certification, and Chaired ASAE’s Task Force on CEO Pathways. He is the creator of a master-level learning series called Through the CEO Lens and Association Charrette – a co-creation retreat experience. His work on global efforts for associations has included experience across five continents, hundreds of volunteer groups, and all 50 states in the U.S.

Lowell Aplebaum, CAE is the CEO and Strategy Catalyst of Vista Cova – a company that partners with organizations on strategic visioning and planning, creating stronger stakeholder connections, and reimagining value and engagement. Lowell frequently provides dynamic sessions to organizations – conducting deep-dive interviews and getting members and volunteers involved through experiential learning approaches. He currently serves as the Chair-Elect for the overseeing commission for the Certified Association Executive certification, and Chaired ASAE’s Task Force on CEO Pathways. He is the creator of a master-level learning series called Through the CEO Lens and Association Charrette – a co-creation retreat experience. His work on global efforts for associations has included experience across five continents, hundreds of volunteer groups, and all 50 states in the U.S.

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