Leaves change. People change. And yes, businesses change.
But what about associations?
Most of us realize innovation is key to driving a business forward. New ideas, new inventions, new strategies, new operating plans. The options are limitless – even for associations.
Associations aren’t often regarded as agents of change, but recently, Marketing General Inc., in conjunction with the National Business Aviation Association, polled association professionals to learn how they set innovation goals, how they support innovation, what rewards and recognition they offer and how they set metrics for innovation.
Nearly 350 associations participated in the Association Innovation Benchmarking Report, which found most associations are at least moderately innovative. That’s a recent development, however, as most didn’t start focusing on innovation until the past five years.
According to the survey, association innovation tends to focus around a few main areas: website and social media; conventions, conferences and seminars; education programs; and membership, technology and marketing (56 percent each).
In addition, associations reported that innovation flows from the top down, with CEOs and other leaders serving as the primary drivers of new thoughts and ideas. In addition, collaboration and communication and encouragement are the most common ways associations support innovation.
And it seems there’s not much middle ground. Associations either fully support innovation or not at all. At the same time, there are challenges – lack of resources being No. 1. Also, most associations don’t set goals to achieve innovation and often, there aren’t reward programs for striving toward and achieving innovation – perhaps because it’s an expectation, and, in some cases, a culture.
Other key findings:
- Changes in the industry or profession and technological developments are the biggest motivators for adopting innovation.
- Among organizations that have rallied around innovation, communication has been key to getting everyone on board. Permission to take risk also plays a major role in getting personnel on board with innovation.
- Those organizations with a specific system tend to handle new ideas in a variety of ways: 50 percent rely on staff initiative; 48 percent have a special committee or group; and 41 percent develop new ideas with the CEO.
- Increased member engagement is the most common way to measure innovation efforts.
- In those organizations where innovation is not supported, respondents cite departments and people being very siloed as a principal cause for the lack of support.