It is usually nations who are the main actors in the theatre of war. Corporations generally take on a supporting role – such as when Steinway & Sons dropped pianos to troops during World War 2.
The war in Ukraine represents a significant shift. For the first time companies are acting on a large scale to influence an outcome. By collectively withdrawing their business from Russia they are dealing significant blow to the Russian economy – and the Russian war effort.
Companies are openly harnessing their power to create an powerful impact. Many of these are doing so by following the principles of the Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) approach. This movement is only getting stronger.
So what does this mean for associations?
There is an increasing expectation that associations expand their outlook beyond just “creating value for members”.
This isn’t about conforming to a trend. It’s about survival. The younger generation are the future leaders, staff, and members of our associations. And, overwhelmingly, younger people want to align with organisations who embrace ESG principles.
If your association isn’t going to deliver, they will happily look to another who will. Or start their own.
Strategic planning needs to catch up – and quickly. Don’t start your strategic planning process by looking at the past. And not by looking at the present. Instead start by getting excited about the future. Explore the possibilities by asking “What powerfully positive impact could we create for our team, our members, our sector, and the world?“.
And think big! Associations are well placed to harness the latent power of the large communities they nurture. The potential is enormous. Are you making the most of yours?
I will be attending the Association Leaders Exchanges in Melbourne and Sydney later this month where I look forward to robust conversations about this and a range of other issues affecting associations. I hope to see you there.