Agreed: Be Nimble and Go for Global Impact

According to a recent Signature i, LLC environmental scan, scientific and engineering societies are striving to be nimble and govern for greater mission impact and global presence.

Signature i LLC, conducted an environmental scan and benchmarking study to kick-off the 2015 CESSE CEO Midwinter Meeting February 9 in Mobile, AL. We scanned existing futures research by CESSE member associations, crafted 29 statements of change, and surveyed 200 CESSE CEOs about their association’s level of response to these changes. We shared other scan report highlights in last week’s blog post.

Four top changes scored consistently high in the scan survey with every type of CESSE association, so we characterized these as the CESSE community’s consensus good practices.  They agree on these priorities:  

  • Nimble Decision Making.  CESSE associations are breaking out of the lockstep processes of strategic and annual planning and budgeting to be more open to nimble decision making.  These associations are still disciplined, but they are trying to move at the rate of change.
  • Mission/Impact Focused Governance. CESSE associations are obsessing less about how to steward members’ resources to serve their interests and instead are focusing on mission and impact.  Associations are trying to live up to their vision for their profession or field—what they want to achieve in the world.
  • Global Presence/National Community.  Even associations with their early roots in local chapters are now working hard to sustain a national community and create a global presence.  The national community is organized around shared interests rather than geography. And global presence depends on relationships and networks cultivated around the world.
  • Millennial Leaders Rising.  CESSE associations are embracing the rise of their Millennial leaders and the energy and passion they offer to take their associations to new places. 

These priorities can seem rather ho-hum unless you’ve seen how commonplace the behaviors that undermine these consensus good practices still are within associations.  Too many boards can agonize over decisions and senior staff teams can be too timid about getting out in front of board decisions. Associations still find it difficult to ignore the “squeaky wheels” members even if what they want doesn’t align well with vision and mission.  You can still find plenty of US member disinterest in life beyond this country’s borders. And too many boomer board members are still perplexed by their association's rising Millennial leaders.

You don't have to look far to find persistent forms of resistance to these changes in every association.   Use this environmental scan as evidence that a group of respected associations believe this is how a relevant and strategic association should act in 2015.