Sunday, August 16, 2009

Building Your Organization for the Future — ASAE ’09

Well, ASAE kicked off it’s 2009 Annual Meeting & Exposition in style this morning with a Keynote presentation by Gary Hamel, highly touted author of the successful book, ” The Future of Management.”   The Wall Street Journal recently ranked Gary Hamel headshotGary Hamel as the world’s most influential business thinker, and Fortune magazine has called him “the world’s leading expert on business strategy.”  Among his other accomplishments Gary authors a blog for the Wall Street Journal which I read regularly.

I must preface any further comments by sharing with my you I am not attending ASAE. This article was generated by participating in a live Twitter stream using the hashtag “#ASAE09.”  All of the information presented is based upon tweets posted during the session.  The experience was really amazing!

Gary Hamel’s message to ASAE attendees was crystal clear… Associations must quickly change their leadership model.  They must embrace their staff and members, encouraging them to become fully engaged in the evolution of their organizations.  “Every association is successful until it’s not.”

Gary Hamel talked about enormous change in the world, “20% of what we know we learned in the past 5 years.”  Hamel wonders, “how do you thrive in a world where change is shaken and not stirred? ..  The pace of change is hypercritical.”  He says, “The world is becoming more turbulent faster than organizations can become adaptable.”

Future of Management copyHow does an organization become truly adaptable? The companies that figure it out will thrive in a rapidly changing world.  Adaptability means being opportunity driven, not crisis driven.  You must track the route of new ideas in your association … where can you improve the process? Speed it up? New sources must be cultivated!

“The role of leadership is to create an environment in which people will bring their best,” Hamel says.  “If you haven’t already thought about how to change your business model it may be too late… Organizations [which can’t adapt to change] have a low corporate sperm count.”

Current CEOs/Boards learn about change from 3rd world countries.  Gary challenges, “Does your business model resemble the governing body of a third world dictatorship … it’s convulsive and disruptive instead of thoughtful. To change, you need to fundamentally alter your view of leadership.”

Here are some synthesized thoughts on what those changes should be:

  • Leadership models must be reinvented to leverage initiative, passion, and creativity …  soft skills are instrumental to the role of a new leader.
    • The “Knowledge Economy” is gone. We’re now living in a “Creative Economy.”
    • Organizations need people with initiative, creativity and passion.  Knowledge, diligence, and obedience are commodities, not key differentiators.
    • New thinking: spend half your professional development time innovating instead of attending a seminar.
  • Approach strategy development as being Participatory, like a family picnic!
    • everyone participates and brings a dish. (smorgasbord of ideas)
    • don’t forget to ask young people to participate!
  • Finding a break-through idea is an arithmetic function.
    • You have to consider many different ideas to find that “innovative” one.
    • Don’t allow fear to inhibit idea generation.
  • Large bureaucratic organizations must outsource to themselves the freedom of thinking outside the box.
    • listen to dissidents, challenge industry dogma!
    • Encourage members/customers to submit ideas & collectively rate them. See what floats to the top  … what better way to understand their needs! (same w/staff)
    • Ban the phrase “direct report” and let’s talk outcomes not span of control.
  • Change needs to be continuous, and not episodic — Avoid huge upheavals every 10 years.
    • change is opportunistic: the longer you put off adaptation, the more difficult it will become.
    • it should not be necessary for orgs to have near-death experiences to adapt…resiliency is key.
    • Turnarounds are a poor substitute for true transformations … they are late and expensive.

Imagine an association encouraging free thought and creativity, yet there is discipline.  There are no titles or a top-down leadership structure.  Instead, a group of peers, the members, are fully committed to working together for a common cause.  Does that sound appealing?

Question — How do you envision the organization of the future?  Please share your ideas with us!

Follow Michael McCurry on Twitter

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Lutz August 17, 2009 at 9:56 am

Mike, you’re a terrific writer! Great recap!

Dave – aka @velchain


Michael M McCurry CMP August 17, 2009 at 10:58 am

@Dave Lutz,

Dave, that is a huge compliment, thanks for that!

I am working at it… are you at ASAE?



Dave Lutz August 18, 2009 at 7:39 am

@Michael M McCurry CMP, Mike, no ASAE this year for me. With IAEE/TS2 and DMAI in July, I’m meeting’d out. I’m pretty sure ASAE will be back on my dance card for 2010 though.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: