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Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations

by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers

Race for Relevance provides a no-nonsense look at today's realities and how associations operate and what they need to do to remain relevant in the future. Based on more than 40 years of combined experience working with more than 1,000 organizations, the authors examine 5 key areas where the traditional approach that organizations have taken in the past needs to be altered. (ASAE/Jossey-Bass Series)

Whether you are considering an entirely new direction for your chamber or you just want some guidance in asking the right questions to make sure you stay current, Race for Relevance provides a thought-provoking framework.  In covering governance, staff empowerment, market awareness, program alignment and technology, the book takes on business-as-usual by building a strong and provocative case for change.  From the start, it had me hooked; so much so that we have used it at both a committee and staff leadership team level to shape meaningful (and ongoing) discussions about our chamber’s future.  A must read for any chamber evaluating their business model. 

Recommended by Tom Baldrige, CCE
President, Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry

From the publisher:

Old ways of doing things in associations have a way of hanging around, even though trends such as rapid advances in technology, higher member expectations, increased competition, and diverse member markets have rendered these ways obsolete. Race for Relevance presents the radical change that is required to maintain influence and thrive in the new environment and avoid challenges associated with old association models, such as loss of market share, increased competition for members time, and shrinking revenue sources. Authors Harrison Coerver and Mary Byer present five radical changes that will energize and position associations for better performance. Based on 40 years of combined experience with more than a thousand associations, they present new ideas in governance, management, and strategy that will enable associations to better capitalize on the new environment. The book includes case studies that show how some things are working and how some are not. It also includes a workable guide for implementing these changes without sacrificing influence or sanity. Finally, the authors provide worksheets and questions that both seasoned professionals and tomorrow's leaders can use to stay focused on the what, the why, and the how. The five radical changes that the authors propose are

  • Overhauling the governance model and committee operations
  • Empowering the CEO and enhancing staff competence
  • Rigorously defining the member market
  • Rationalizing programs and services
  • Building a robust technology framework.

The results of these five changes include streamlined and nimbler governance; staff that is challenged and that works in true partnership with volunteers; a realistic, well-defined member market that s easier to find and market to; products and services that members feel are desirable and beneficial; and increased financial and resource capital in short, an association that can succeed in a brave new world.

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