Most associations rely on informal processes for moving innovation forward within their organizations finds a new study, Pathways to Innovation: Shifting from Informal to Intentional. The majority of new ideas and initiatives come from staff with the CEO and senior leadership leading most efforts. Many of these ideas are adapted from other organizations.
We are innovative
It was surprising that most of the association executives who were interviewed described their association as innovative. This runs counter to the prevalent narrative that associations struggle with innovation and change, Yet few organizations are taking a member-centric approach to creating new programs and services that meet their members’ unmet needs.
Informal market research processes
The majority of associations interviewed also rely on informal market research processes. As other studies have found, they have few formal mechanisms for regular review of their portfolio of offerings and find it challenging to sun set programs and initiatives.
Three primary foci of innovation projects
Current innovation projects of the associations interviewed clustered in three primary areas: upgrading internal technology systems, building online learning programs and shifting to shorter, more targeted events.
Download the full report, Pathways to Innovation: Shifting from Informal to Intentional.
Take Imperfect Action
I took a workshop once during which the trainer said that “take imperfect action” was her mantra. I have adopted it as one of my own since starting my consulting practice.
I talked to a lot of consultants before I got started to hear about their journeys. Many of them said, ‘they just fell into it.” I knew this was not going to be my path. I am too much of a planner. So I also read every book on being successful as a consultant that I could find.
Taking the plunge
But finally I had to take the plunge. All the reading and talking to people was not going to make it real. It got more real when I was taking care of my dad in his final months. Sitting next to him in his wheel chair, I thought – “what will I regret when I am in my 90s and sitting in my wheel chair if I have never done it?” One of the things that came to mind was never shifting from planning to action on creating my consulting business.
So start I did. Step by imperfect step.
Keeping ‘take imperfect action’ front and center helps me free myself when I get stuck in overwhelm or in analysis paralysis.
‘Take imperfect action’ frees me from worrying about whether I am working on the “right” thing.
It reminds me that there are lots of possibilities and many of them are likely to be “right.”
It helps remind me I am a flawed human and cannot know what the future holds, all grand plans aside.
Celebrating small wins
In a world that only wants you to ‘play big or go home’ I have been focusing on the small. Small steps, small wins. Part of this practice has been writing down my small wins at the end of every day.
‘Bird by bird’ as Annie Lamott says. Trusting that these small imperfect steps will add up to progress.
What imperfect action will you take today?
My passion is helping nonprofit organizations and associations have a greater mission impact.
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