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You don’t need a crystal ball, just crystal clarity

crystal_ball_for_saleSometimes, even though change is generally uncomfortable and often avoided, when it actually does happen, it feels as if the changes happen overnight. But rarely is this the case. It is usually the convergence of a number of factors, over a period of years, that creates seismic changes in a field.

In the health care community, there have been many indicators that the practice of medicine is undergoing a major change. Although I can still remember a time when my doctor worked in a small private practice, the number of physician owners or partners who have become employees has grown dramatically over the last six years.

Did you know the Association of American Medical Colleges expects a shortage of 124,000 full-time physicians by the year 2025? And don’t forget about health care reform. This has undoubtedly had an impact on the practice of medicine and the employment of physicians.

Although the changes I’ve just mentioned are in health care, every industry is undergoing changes that are bound to impact the profession and the workforce. From consolidation to the emergence of new technology – the world is changing. Is your membership model designed to meet the needs of the workforce?

Obviously, you cannot predict the future or the future needs of your members, but there are a variety of things you can do to ensure your association is positioned to take advantage of change.

Conduct an environmental scan and update it on an annual basis. Develop a market research plan to ensure you understand every value-creation lever offered by your organization – from the perspective of your members. Ask members questions about their current challenges when the join and when they renew. Look at the history of your organization and your industry. Begin the process by asking the question, “How did this happen and how did we get here?” Use existing data to identify future needs.

The following is an excerpt from The Art of Membership: How to Attract, Retain and Cement Member Loyalty (ASAE Series) published by ASAE and Jossey-Bass (January 2014).