Associations connect mentors with mentees, offer professional development and continuing education courses, write rules and regulations for their industries, and innovate every chance they have. But what does it mean to truly innovate? Innovation is a word heard frequently in conversation with association professionals, but do we actually understand the importance of associations driving this innovation?
Let’s start with the basics.
“Innovation isn’t solely represented by new devices, ideas or methods, but also by the process of uncovering new ways to do things,” says Forbes. “It can also pertain to modifying business models and adapting to changes to achieve better products and services.”
Forbes also says “Innovation is achieved by providing something original and is often seen to produce efficiency, leading to an idea that significantly affects the general society.”
Innovation is change. It is creating value for the future of your industry. Without this change, associations and their industries run the risk of becoming stagnant and resistant to true innovation. But it’s not enough to just participate in change, associations need to lead it.
So, why should associations drive innovation?
As leaders in professional development and continuing education, associations have the unique ability to influence not only governmental and industry standards, but also the responsibility to take innovation into their own hands and use the resources available to pilot the advancements of their respective industries.
“This is part of what associations are built on,” said Donna Oser, President and CEO of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. “We would rather determine industry best practices than to have the government tell us. We believe we know better than they do, so let us do the work and then we will share that information.”
Having connections to every professional level in their industries, associations can take their insider knowledge, data, and ability to get industry specific feedback and use it to transform and innovate for the betterment of the entire industry, not just associations.
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Ashley Neal joined the Sidecar team as Community Coordinator in March of 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic began to shut down life as we knew it. Having to adapt, overcome and predict the changes needed to survive in the new normal, Ashley now has the skills needed to juggle any obstacle thrown her way. A soon-to-be graduate from Southeastern Louisiana University in the field of Strategic Communications, Ashley spends her days balancing her work and education with her love of dogs. Taking her three dogs — Scooby, Pipsqueak and Moose — to restaurants, hiking trails, vacations and even participating in dog shows and sports is the highlight of her weekends.