2020 Vision of Excellence for Association Learning

If you were charged with taking your association’s education and meetings to the next level, would you latch onto the latest gee-whiz technology to deliver education or would you take a strategic and systems view of what might be possible to go from good to great?

I am consulting to a major national association exploring a mutually beneficial model for member education and meetings for the association and its components that achieves the dual goals of excellence and profitability.  As I have talked with people inside and outside this association about what the future of association learning could be, I am discovering an implicit understanding of the attributes of excellence that need to be made explicit in a vision for association learning.  We need to change the conversation from keeping up with the latest tools to getting a solid business model for a learning culture.        

An ideal model for association learning:    

  1. Supports the current and emerging continuing education and lifelong learning needs of members.
  2. For professions with a defined academic preparation program, connects to and builds on these experiences in meaningful ways.
  3. Offers multiple modes of delivery and matches the format and media to the purpose and content of the education experience.
  4. Addresses different learning styles and levels of knowledge and expertise in a way that is transparent and useful for learners, instructor and facilitators.
  5. Provides mechanisms for ongoing assessment for individuals and the profession that make it possible for people to continuously improve their knowledge, competencies and skills.
  6. Maximizes accessibility and affordability for members, consumers and other interested stakeholders.
  7. Promotes collaboration and sustains profitability for the association and its provider partners, including chapters, special sections, affiliates, academia and other essential providers.
  8. Intentionally fosters a love of learning and awareness of how to be more effective learners as individuals, organizations and professions.
  9. Embraces a learning culture that turns every association experience and resource into a learning opportunity for members. 

What else would be on your list of attributes for an ideal model for association learning?

How is your association living this vision today and how can you build on these strengths? Where are you weak and what are the potential consequences? What should you start doing today to work toward this vision?

I am finding very few associations that are living up to this ideal so let’s make it a 2020 vision. This gives us 10 years to get serious about making learning the priority strategy for creating associations that members value and our world needs.