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Want to become essential? Stay one step ahead of your members

Driverless cars and the potential for hacking into increasingly connected cars have been identified as two issues Allstate believes could threaten its business. In a recent Chicago Tribune article, an Allstate representative said, “…driverless cars or technologies that facilitate ride or home sharing, could disrupt the demand for our products from current customers…” Just one year ago, however, Allstate viewed these issues as opportunities in a letter to its shareholders.

Many organizations THINK about future opportunities and threats but very few are nimble enough to do more than just react to trends. To successfully advance the industry and achieve your goals, your organization must stay one step ahead by knowing the industry better than anyone else – including your members.

HIMSS is one of the exceptions. A global, cause-based, not-for-profit organization focused on better health through information technology, HIMSS leads efforts to optimize health engagements and care outcomes using information technology. It was a belief that HIMSS must know its industry better than anyone else that helped it grow more than 1,000 percent over the past decade. “Years ago, HIMSS knew who our members were, but we didn’t really know their business,” said Steve Lieber, CAE, President and CEO in my book, The Art of Membership. In response, HIMSS asked two important questions: 1) How could HIMSS know the industry better than anyone? and 2) What did the industry need that currently did not exist?

In the association world, nothing is more important than understanding, at a very deep level, what your members need and want in the context of their existing and potential challenges. In sports, success of the field isn’t the results of talent or strength alone; rather it comes from being able to pick up on visual cues, combined with the knowledge and experience to anticipate what will happen next.

Skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it’s been. – Walter Gretzkey, father of Wayne Gretzky (former professional hockey player, head coach and leading point-scorer in NHL history.


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